First Level: GTA: Chinatown Wars (PSP)

Hands on with Rockstar's latest in the Grand Theft Auto series.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting a PSP version of the hugely successful (and previously exclusive) DS Grand Theft Auto title, and the initial confirmation totally took me by surprise.  Chinatown Wars, a return to the classic top-down format that defined the early GTA titles, is still sitting pretty at the top of the Metacritic chart with 93% making it the highest critically reviewed DS game in existence.

You’d expect, then, the PSP version to be just as good, right?  Well it’s not – it’s better.  Firstly, the visuals are now super sharp, impressively smooth and much higher detailed – the textures are a huge improvement and everything just looks so much cleaner.  The lighting and animation are about the same, but they were areas that the DS version managed perfectly well anyway, so no complaints there.

The mini-games, something that always felt a little bit shoe-horned on the Nintendo platform, work better here too – there’s no switching of the controls to pull out the stylus, everything’s handled in cool little comic book cutaways and require just the analog stick and a button or two, with things like the initial breaking of the car window done with the triggers, and the hot-wiring with a twist of the nub.  Perfect.

All the other controls just seem to fit in fine, too, there’s nothing about the PSP version that feels compromised and things like the Badger PDA seem more fluid and intuitive with the PSP’s widescreen format.  Audio’s just as good, the music’s great and the slightly pulled back camera mean it’s easier to drive at high speeds without hitting anything.  Of course, the story’s exactly the same, but that’s not a negative.

So, yeah, a brief First Level but I just wanted to get this out there before the PSN version went public later this afternoon.  It’s seriously very, very good, at least as good as the DS version and frequently betters it.  There’s a raft of multiplayer options too, although I’ll need to look more closely at those.  If you’ve any questions drop us a comment and I’ll see if I can get the time today to answer your queries.

Well worth the £30 in my opinion, and that’s after dropping the same on the DS version.

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