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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is a video game for Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, and iPhone OS, developed by Rockstar Leeds in conjunction with Rockstar North. It is the thirteenth game in the Grand Theft Auto series, the fourth released on a Nintendo console, after Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2 for the Game Boy Color and Grand Theft Auto Advance for the Game Boy Advance and the very first for iPhone OS.


Cognoscenti being stolen with a 3 star wanted level

Chinatown Wars has a different presentation from previous games in the series. Instead of a ground-level view behind the protagonist or a top-down perspective, Chinatown Wars uses a fully rotatable aerial camera angled down at the action. Chinatown Wars also uses cel-shaded polygons with black outlines to produce a comic book-like aesthetic — a first for the series. The title takes place in the Grand Theft Auto IV rendition of Liberty City, with the exception of Alderney.

Unlike Grand Theft Auto IV, the player can disable as many cop cars as possible to escape the police instead of leaving a "wanted zone". The more stars the player has, the more cops they have to take out for each level. For example, for a six star level, they have to take out six cop cars to get down to a five star wanted level, and so on. Also unlike Grand Theft Auto IV, when the player is shooting at an enemy, and has killed the person, it locks onto another enemy, instead of still aiming at the dead person. There is also a drug dealing sub plot which allows players to peddle six types of drugs around the city. Players can make a profit by recognizing market conditions and demands based on geography and plying their wares accordingly. CCTV cameras work as this game's secret packages which is destroyable via throwing a Molotov cocktail bottle & decreases the chances of being caught while making a drug deal . Chinatown Wars applies many Grand Theft Auto IV features such as the new next gen HUD. Ammu-nation returns in the form of an in-game website where the player can order various weapons through their PDA to be delivered to their safehouse. Official Nintendo Magazine described the game as "one of the largest, most complex DS games ever made", with over 900,000 lines of code.

Platform Differences

  • The Nintendo DS version of the game takes advantage of the touch screen as controlling elements like the PDA, GPS, the radio, access to the people on the map, or using Molotov cocktails and grenades, The top screen shows the game & story board. and taxi whistling supported by DS microphone.

  • The PSP version takes advantage of the widescreen, showing the weapon & Molotov/Grenade on the top right screen, while pressing Select shows the weapon screen to choose from. The key difference between the DS and the PSP is the touch suggesters that is designed for the DS is somewhat hard in the PSP, mostly using the Analog Stick for these suggesters (e.x. while filling the Molotov bottle's, drawing the tattoo, unscrewing the cars & booms panels, etc.)

  • The PSP version features extra missions and exclusive radio stations not featured in the Nintendo DS version. However, PSP multiplayer supports only 2 players.


While stealing a moving vehicle is similar to that of previous GTA games, Chinatown Wars uses a different system for stealing parked vehicles. Depending on the car, it can be started in one of a few ways. Older cars require a few turns of a screwdriver in the ignition, while other cars require hotwiring. Newer, more expensive cars require the player to "hack" the computerized immobilizer. It is still possible to flip cars or set them on fire. The player is unable to pilot any of the helicopters in the game, but he can still see the ones flying above him.

Social Club

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars uses Rockstar's Rockstar Games Social Club. Players can use this service to upload their gameplay statistics. Competitive and co-operative multiplayer modes are only available through DS to DS local wireless.

The features available through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection include chatting, trading items and sharing favorite GPS markers and stats with other players. Through the Social Club, players are also able to download new missions.


Music for the opening titles of gameplay is the track 'Chinatown Wars' performed by Ghostface Killah and MF Doom and produced by Oh No of the Stones Throw Records.

The DS version of the game features music by Deadmau5 among others.

On top of the soundtrack featured in the DS version of the game the PSP version will exclusively feature music by Anvil, Tortoise, DFA Records, Turntables on the Hudson and DJ Khalil.



The setting of Chinatown Wars is the version of Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto IV, minus the area of Alderney. The map is the same as the previous game, including landmarks and some locations.


Huang Lee, the spoiled son of a recently murdered Triad boss, arrives by plane in Liberty City with Yu Jian, a sword that Huang's father won in a poker game and has decided to use as an heirloom, to deliver it to the new patriarch of the family, Huang's uncle Wu "Kenny" Lee. Shortly after landing, Huang's escorts are killed by assassins and he is shot and kidnapped. The assailants steal the sword and, thinking Huang is dead, dump his body in the water. Huang manages to survive and informs Kenny that Yu Jian has been taken. Kenny explains that he had intended to offer the sword to Hsin Jaoming, the aging Triad boss in Liberty City, as a means of securing a position as his replacement. Kenny is dishonored and reduced in power due to the loss of Yu Jian, leaving him and Huang working to keep their businesses afloat.

Eventually, Huang is contacted by Zhou Ming, a high-ranking Triad member, and Chan Jaoming, son of Hsin. Both men are also competing to be Hsin's replacement, and employ Huang to combat each other's efforts. After Chan hires Huang for a deal that goes badly, Huang is intercepted by LCPD Detective Wade Heston, a crooked cop under pressure from Internal Affairs. Heston offers an alliance with Huang to find the men responsible for the theft of Yu Jian and the murder of Huang's father. Huang agrees and finds that Heston suspects a Korean gang allied with the Triads is behind the events. After combating the Koreans for a while, Heston plants a bug in the Koreans' headquarters, from which he learns that there is a splinter group inside the gang called the Wonsu. Heston determines that the leader of the Wonsu will be the one responsible for Yu Jian's theft, and is also a police informant who has been causing trouble for the Triads.

Meanwhile, Hsin enlists Huang in finding the informant, only to then suspect Huang himself and attempt to kill him. Kenny arrives and convinces Hsin to give them time to find the real rat, bringing haste to Huang's mission. Hsin puts Huang on to investigate two gangs who may be housing the rat: the Angels of Death, and the Korean Mob. Huang gets into contact with Lester Leroc, a PI inside the Angels of Death, and performs his own work against the Koreans. Huang is temporarily thrown off course by the intervention of mafia member Rudy D'Avanzo, who tricks Huang into believing the mole is a Messina Family member named Jimmy Capra. Hsin later reveals D'Avanzo's trickery and Huang kills him.

Both the Koreans and the Angels are found to be innocent, leading to a new course of investigation. Heston employs Huang to hack into the servers of the FIB in order to find the informant. The information recovered names both Zhou Ming and Chan Jaoming as having talked to the police about Triads. This is taken to Hsin, who, disgraced that his own son is a suspect, instantly steps down as leader and appoints Kenny as the new head of the Liberty City Triads. Huang then executes both Chan and Zhou, despite each of them denying their guilt. Shortly after the killings, Huang is contacted by Heston, who informs him the information they recovered was fake, and that he has learned of a meeting between the leader of the Wonsu and his allies. Huang and Heston go to the meeting and find Kenny, who admits that he was responsible for the theft of Yu Jian and Huang's father's death. Heston and Huang pursue Kenny across town, cornering him at Hsin's residence. Here Kenny explains that he was tasked by Hsin to retrieve Yu Jian, thus Huang's father would have to die for it to be passed on to him, in exchange for a position underneath Chan. Kenny complied with this, but attempted to have Yu Jian stolen to keep himself from such a dishonorable position and later framed Zhou and Chan to cover his tracks.

After a final confrontation between Hsin and Kenny, Hsin demands the hand over of Yu Jian. Kenny ironically responds by stabbing Hsin with the sword as his way of presenting it to him. With Huang as witness to the murder and truth, Kenny engages in an inevitable final battle with Huang, who is the only one left in the way of Kenny's undisputed rise to power. Centered around a fountain with Kenny slashing away, Huang eventually kills Kenny, fulfilling his promise to avenge his father. Immediately the IAD and FIB arrive to arrest Heston and Huang, however Heston claims that he was in deep undercover and orders the arrest of everyone except Huang. In Hsin's last words, he praises Huang with the loyalty and nobility to become his true successor as Triad Boss.

Completion of the Rockstar Social Club missions opens up Xin's missions where Huang helps Xin steal and dispose of a Rhino for him, after he gets ambushed by the cops. Huang attempts to take him to safety, although he succumbs to his injuries. Before his death, he makes the revelation that he is Ling's brother and Huang mourns for both of them.



In Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars GameStop preorder commercial, the dialog referred to the real-life corporate bailout in 2008. A new gameplay trailer was released on March 6, 2009, showing gameplay involving using a sniper rifle and interacting with keypads with the Nintendo DS' stylus. GameStop had a promotion where they sent around a van letting people try the game before it was released. GameStop in the United States and Game in the United Kingdom are giving away a "credit card" which activates $10,000 of in-game money and earlier access to better weapons. is providing a code to unlock an exclusive bulletproof Infernus with preorders.


Nintendo DS version

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was released to critical acclaim. On GameRankings, it is currently the highest rated Nintendo DS game ever, with an average review score of93.02%. The game hold a 93 aggregate score on Metacritic which is the highest score on that site for a DS game. The game also has the highest rank for the Nintendo DS at GameSpot, with a rating of 9.5/10. Official Nintendo Magazine rated the game 94%, praising the visuals and variety in gameplay, concluding in their review that "Rockstar has captured and condensed the Grand Theft Auto series' high points and crammed them into one terrific title. Think the DS can't handle GTA? Think again." IGN UK gave it a rating of 9.2, calling it a "a masterpiece of handheld gaming" while IGN US gave the game a 9.5 out of 10. Eurogamer gave it a rating of 10/10, saying "Overall this is GTA as it first was, with the inherited wisdom of GTA as it's been since, finished off with all sorts of things that would happily belong in a GTA of the future." gave it a A-, saying that it is "impressive from the start". X-Play gave it a 5/5, calling it a "Must Have" game for the Nintendo DS. IGN US gave the game a 9.5/10.

Chinatown Wars generated lower than expected sales in its first week in the United Kingdommarker, and did not even sell to level with the debut of Vice City Stories, which was Rockstar's expectation. In the United Statesmarker, it sold just under 90,000 units during its first two weeks on the American market. This led Best Buy to sell the game at a reduced price for a limited time; the response to this was very positive.

PSP version

Rockstar confirmed via a press release, that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was going to be released for the PlayStation Portable on 20 October 2009. The game is available on UMD as well as via the PlayStation gave the PSP version an A-, citing the experience is good second time around, and it is efficent for people who are playing for the first time. IGN gave the PSP version a 9.3/10, compared to the 9.5/10 on DS.

Unlike the DS version which reached #5, the PSP game did not chart in the UK top 40 upon release, nor did it chart in the US monthly top 20.

iPhone and iPod Touch version

It was announced that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will be released for the iPhone and iPod Touch via the App Store in Fall 2009.


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