HomeGenreActionGrand Theft Auto : Chinatown Wars Review for Apple iPhone

Grand Theft Auto : Chinatown Wars Review for Apple iPhone


Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platforms: iPad, iPhone (reviewed)
Release Date: January 07 2010
Price: $5.49 – Available Here

Grand Theft Auto has come a very long way since it was released way back in 1997 on the PC, who would of known that at the time that this franchise would become one of the biggest selling,  most popular title/genre of all time.  Now Rockstar games have brought Grand Theft Auto Chinatown wars to the Apple iPhone / iTouch.

As you might already be aware, Grand Theft Auto : Chinatown Wars initially was released on the Nintendo DS, which is currently the number 1 ranked game on metacritic at the moment.  Then not long after it’s release was also made on the Sony PSP which too was welcomed into 2nd place on metacritic of all time best games on that hand held console.  As metacritic still hasn’t started rating iPhone games yet, it’s a pitty because I believe that GTA : Chinatown Wars would find its place in the number one spot once again.

The iPhone version of Chinatown wars has been labelled the little brother or sister of both the Nintendo DS / PSP version.  As people tend to believe that the iPhone is not capable of handing games of such depth, size and magnitude.  Well this is where your all wrong.  The iPhone version is nothing short of perfect in every way compared to both the Nintendo DS and PSP version, it has the best of both worlds.  It contains tutorial elements that reference the PSP buttons and also some cell shaded graphics then on the flipside the touch / stylus mini games from the DS.  This is taking full advantage and pushing the iPhone to the max.  BUT in a good way.

Now one thing that I have to mention is and we all know too well, that there are no physical buttons or controls on the iPhone, being replaced by an onscreen virtual joystick.  This will take time getting used to, but once you get the hang of it driving, shooting, punching, and doing all those car jacking mini games, everything will become second nature in no time at all.

Travelling on foot is very easy, the control system is responsive and not at all sluggish.  You have three types of actions you can perform :  Punching (very effective), Fly Kick attack, and jumping and leaping over short fences.  Pressing the top right button if you have collected a weapon will allow you to auto target on an enemy and with the same button you use to punch and shoot instead.  The auto-aim works fairly well, if you want to switch between targets you will have to move and face that particular enemy.  As in the DS / PSP you can lock on to targets with the extra buttons this is not an option on the iPhone.  But this is not a problem as the targeting system works quite well.

Jacking cars is also very simple when your close to a parked car or stopped car a car jack button appears in the middle of the screen down the bottom, pressing this will initiate the car jacking where you will either throw the driver out of the car and enter it yourself or begin a randomly generated timed mini game that will get you to hotwire it by pressing specific actions/movements/gestures on the screen before the timer runs out and alarm goes off.


Once in car you have a choice of five radio stations, and a three buttons on the right that will allow you to accelerate, break/reverse and shoot out the window.  There are two available steering styles.  Analog, which is how you control Huang when your’re on foot, or a left/right two button mode.  Both are up to personal preference by default the left/right two button setup is initiated by default.  If you don’t like it, jump into the system settings and change it to analog.  I would recommend trying both and see which one best suites ur gameplay style.  but both work well.

Now what’s Grand Theft Auto : Chinatown Wars all about you ask ?  Well with the title Chinatown Wars the story focuses on an Asian feel as you play as Huang Lee, a son of a murdered Triad boss that comes to Liberty City to present his uncle with a family heirloom, but everything goes horribly wrong as soon as Huang steps foot on American soil, the family heirloom is stolen and Huang barely escapes with his life.  It’s a great opening story.  The game like every other GTA game comprises of missions, side missions, killing, stealing cars, a litte bit more killing, driving people around, and many other illegal activities which makes GTA such an enjoyable game.


One thing I am really happy with is the excellent assistance in getting new players to the genre up and running with a fantastic and very detailed tutorial missions that explain EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING about how GTA : Chinatown Wars works and plays.  From walking, to punching, to car jacking to using the your emails and GPS.  It’s perfect and I think more games should be taking notes on how Rockstar has done this.

Once the tutorial missions are out of the way then that’s when the fun really begins.  As you all know in GTA you can do whatever you want.  If you feel like driving around, killing innocent civilians, you can, you can meet up and do a bit of drug dealing with the local drug dealers, similar to the old classic dope wars game we all use to play when we were young, get tip offs from drugs dealers about whats going cheap buy all of the stash and then rush over to the other side of town and sell it at a high price !! make super big profits and be awarded for it. Just be careful to not get caught with the stash, if you do.  BAM !! you lose it all.


Along with selling drugs, you can also try out some side missions as well such as the classic taxi, ambulance and also firefighter driving missions.  There a truchload of other secret things to find.  There are also lottery shops where you can try your luck with scratchie tickets, scratch and match to win big money.  As in GTA IV you also meet random encounters on the streets who will ask you to do something for them.  The amount of cool stuff in Chinatown Wars is EPIC and the best thing is it’s all available in the palm of your hand. You have all the freedom in the world to do whatever your heart desires.   This is a living and breathing Liberty City the likes you have come to know and love.

There is one issue I have come across with Chinatown wars but is also present on nearly every other game I’ve played on the iPhone and that is, there is no save state to save your game progress if you receive a call or you need to reply to a SMS.  If you are in the middle of a mission and you take that call from your mother or friend etc, then your in big trouble.  Once you go back into the game you will be taken back to the last known good save game in your apartment.  All I can recommend is that DO NOT TAKE THE CALL.  Finish mission, save the game back at the safe house and then call back whoever it was that was trying to call you, they can wait.  Chinatown Wars is more important 😉


Grand Theft Auto is by far the biggest game available on the Apple iPhone,  to sum it up in one word it’s MASSIVE !! The features available on are also well polished, take for example the GPS system when driving works absolutely flawlessly as it guides you around the city to your next destination.  Also the in-game email system and mobile phone messages are great.  Missions get sent directly to your phone, characters notify you on what missions to take next and where the next major drug deal is happening so you can sell that heroin for top dollar 😉

In closing Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars on the Apple iPhone 3GS ran perfectly.  There was no slowdown, no loss of framerate, for a game that is over 600mb uncompressed in size, everthing loads up quickly, gameplay is smooth and crisp and very responsive.  With hours of playtime expect to have your USB charger handy on numerous occasions whilst attempting to finish this game.  Grand Theft Auto : Chinatown Wars is priced at $9.99 US & $12.99 AUDwhich is a 1/3 of the price it sells for on both the Nintendo DS and PSP.  It’s price for an Apple iTunes store application is a little higher than other apps, but look at the big picture, and what your paying for. Grand Theft Auto : Chinatown Wars has quality, fantastic gameplay, massive amount of game time. So I think the $9.99 price tag is nothing but well spent !!


If you’re a fan of the sandbox style open world crime games, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is by far the best available on the iPhone/iTouch at this time. The massive amount of missions, content, graphics, and gameplay will keep you busy for hours and hours.