If my four-fifth had lips, I'd make it French kiss ya
Cuz no mission's impossible, I carry my Wu-Tang sword
On my back, and attack all obstacles
Burnt down buildings, avenging my father's death
A store for ransom, and snatchin' crystal meth
I pillage, my warpath is unpredictable
Leave 'em dead on arrival, broke up or critical
A 2009 game originally an exclusive for the Nintendo DS (though later ported to PSP, iOS, and Android), this is the thirteenth game in Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series and the first original title to appear on a Nintendo console since the release of Grand Theft Auto Advance on the Game Boy Advance.
Huang Lee, the spoiled son of a recently murdered Triad boss, arrives by plane in GTA4's 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. What follows is a Gambit Pileup as Huang tries to find the sword, move up in the ranks of the Triads and keep all his body parts intact... something not always easy to do in Liberty City.
Instead of the top-down perspective or a view behind the protagonist, Chinatown Wars is unique in the series for its isometric camera perspective. As opposed to the fully rendered aspects of later entries in the series, Chinatown Wars has Cel-Shaded Graphics and comic-book style cut-scenes (though the Cel-Shading was toned down in the PSP version). It also features a number of mini-games that took advantage of the DS's touch-screen interface (replaced by Press X to Not Die in the PSP version.) Also, a large aspect of the game is the Drug-Wars style system of buying and selling various narcotics around the city to build up cash reserves.
As an installment, it was almost universally well-received, though the DS and PSP platform's sales were far below expectations. When it was released on the iPhone platform, however, the sales soared to the top of the App Store's charts.
This Work Shows Examples Of The Following Tropes:
- Advertised Extra: Ling Shan was a common sight within the promotional material (mostly trailers and artwork) and she's on the cover art, yet she only appears in two missions. She meets her unceremonious demise in "Under the Gun" (which is the third mission, by the way) at the hands of a Spanish Lord.
- And Show It to You: One of Zhou Ming's missions has you hijacking an ambulance carrying a Triad suspected of being a snitch and driving it to Zhou. After a short exchange, Zhou cuts out the man's heart with a knife.
- Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: A literal example with mission of all three categories - arson missions to strengthen protection rackets, murder missions to eliminate enemies and rivals as well as lifesaving missions with stolen ambulances and fire engines.
- Batter Up!: Baseball bat is one of the melee weapons.
- Big Bad: The entire plot has been Kenny Lee's attempt to end up as a legitimate Triad boss not ruling from behind Chan's back.
- Bittersweet Ending: Huang is now the head of the Triads, but nearly everyone he came into contact with during the course of the game is dead, rightfully or otherwise, and he learnt that it was his Evil Uncle Kenny that was responsible for his father's death all along.
- Broken Bridge: The first game in the entire franchise to avert this, before Grand Theft Auto V.
- Cassandra Truth: Both Zhao and Chan try to convince Huang they're not traitors when he comes for them. He doesn't believe them. After disposing of them, Wade emails him to confirm their words.
- The Chains of Commanding: It's implied Hsin isn't content with being forced to order the death of his son. Especially considering it was based on fabricated info.
- Cool Car: Although the top-down perspective and the lack of good camera angles make it difficult to appreciate them.
- Cosmetic Award: Chinatown Wars has eight trophies to be unlocked. All but one of them are related to the drug dealing activity in some capacity.note
- Crapsaccharine World: It's not as vivid as the 3D Universe's Vice City or HD Universe's San Andreas, but Chinatown Wars portrays Liberty City in vivid colors like The Ballad of Gay Tony before it. Yet like every other city in the GTA series, Liberty City is still a Wretched Hive.
- Darker and Edgier:
- While previous titles condemn drugs (III, San Andreas) or make drugs trade conducted by the protagonists implied (Vice City, through the boat checkpoint and "ice cream" selling), Chinatown Wars is the first game that made drug trade explicitly possible for the player, and also the quickest source of easy money for Huang.
- The story itself returns to the darker tones established by Grand Theft Auto IV after The Ballad of Gay Tony went Lighter and Softer.
- Deadpan Snarker: Huang Lee's dialogue is peppered with rude and sarcastic remarks, even to his current employers. A lot of the cast members have shades of this though.
- Demoted to Extra: The Russian Mafia, Yardies, Lost MC and Hustlers return, but are far less important to the story. The Lost appear in a few of Lester's missions solely to get killed by Huang, the Yardies appear primarily to be gunned down by Zhou Ming (and have their business disrupted by Huang on behalf of Melanie Mallard in various PSP-exclusive missions), the Russians only appear in a PSP-exclusive mission, and the Hustlers have no bearing on the plot at all.
- Denser and Wackier: While the story maintains the gritty tone established by IV, the game does bring back some of the more outlandish elements of the 3D-era games, like a usable minigun and drivable tanks.
- Dirty Cop: Wade Heston. His only motivation for doing actual police work is Internal Affairs breathing down his neck. Amusingly enough, he's less of a prick than most of the cast.
- Disc-One Nuke:
- Drug trading can build up huge reserves of cash early on.
- The Chinese Sword. While more powerful weapons can be bought from Ammunitation later in this game, this melee weapon can be found very early in the game in a dumpster. It is a one-hit kill and unlike guns, doesn't arouse suspicion from cops (even if said victim is sliced right in front of them).
- Disposable Sex Worker: Unlike other games in the series this doesn't have the "hire a hooker to regain health then kill her to get your money back" trick. However, there's one random encounter in which a hooker you stumble upon assumes this exact thing will happen and (with the assistance of some other hookers) preemptively attacks Huang. He can either fight back or cut and run.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Chan's attempts to convince Huang that he's not the rat are all laughably incompetent, but he very briefly touches upon the fact that he's convinced he'll surely become the next Triad boss, and has no motivation to sell the Triads out to the FIB. The smarter Zhou, who ends up in a similar situation, uses the exact same argument.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Many of the characters can be found in the Grand Theft Auto IV police database, released a year earlier.
- Evil All Along: Uncle Kenny was the man who ordered Huang's father's death. While possessing the family's sword, he manipulated Huang to do his dirty work.
- Evil Uncle: Even putting aside his Big-Baddery, Kenny's a rather massive prick to Huang and uses him to do his dirty work as much as everyone else.
- Fat Idiot: Chan Jaoming is noticeably pudgy and unbelievably incompetent.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: The flamethrower is one of the heavy weapons available. You get it in the mission "Cash and Burn" to torch a construction site belonging to Irish gangsters.
- Friendly Local Chinatown: Not so much with the friendly, but it's a large part of the setting. You even do a dragon-dance mini-game.
- Gambit Pileup: Chan and Zhou are plotting against each other to become head of the Triads, the enemy gangs are plotting against the Triads, the actual head of the Triads is plotting against everybody, and the FIB is trying to arrest everybody. Huang Lee is the one to come out on top and become the head of the Triads - all because he hadn't been plotting against anybody and was generally just doing what was asked of him.
- Gatling Good: One of the options for the heavy weapon slots is a man-portable minigun. Zhou wields it in one mission.
- Genre Throwback: Chinatown Wars brings back the top-down view from the first two GTA games. Even more interesting considering that it came out after Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories proved that open-world GTA games could work on handheld systems.
- Greater-Scope Villain: If we take the Big Bad's comments in the finale at face value - and Huang does, as seen in the replay menu notes - Hsin qualifies as that, since it was his order to get the Yu Jian delievered to him.
- Guns Akimbo: The Dual Pistols lets you do this.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Huang develops these.
- Jerkass: Almost every member of the cast is an unsympathetic jerk to some extent, but Chan Jaoming (the oblivious kind) and Zhou Ming (the arrogant and narcissistic kind) stand out. The two exceptions are Wade Heston and Lester, who both treat Huang with a modicum of respect.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Huang makes a lot of comments about Mel's complete lack of ethics and how some of the crimes of his she recorded were done at her request. They hit too close to home, and she betrays Chan and Huang.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wade Heston's willingness to cut Huang some slack at the end makes him this trope - at least when compared to the rest of the cast.
- Kill 'Em All: By the ending, only four of the named characters are left alive: Huang Lee, Hsin Jiao-Ming, Wade Heston and Lester, who wasn't present in the final mission.
- Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: See that chick in the purple dress up there? She doesn't last long and never wears that dress.
- Manchild: Chan Jaomin is 40 years old, but acts like an irresponsible teenager.
- Medal of Dishonor: The Wooden Spoon is "awarded" for making a $500 loss in a single drug deal. It's harder than it sounds, since it requires you to either get lucky with a drug dealer's inventory (so that you can buy enough expensive stuff from him and sell it back) or to travel between a dealer that sells high and one that buys low.
- Money for Nothing: The Drug-Wars inspired minigame lets you build up huge reserves of cash with a little investment of time.
- NameTron: The Hobotron minigame.
- Nepotism: The one reason Chan stayed alive for as long as he did.
- Never My Fault:
- One mission has you helping Chan win a street race by sabotaging the other racers. When this gets him kidnapped in the next mission, he blames Huang for sabotaging the race, despite the fact that Huang did it on his orders.
- Another mission from Chan has him agree to meet up with known enemies of the Triad. Shockingly, it turns out to be a trap, and Huang takes charge and pulls him out of the mess. Guess how Chan reported it to his father.
- Mel Mallard ends up blaming her betrayal of Chan on Huang's Jerkass Has a Point comments. In a rare moment of competence, he doesn't buy it.
- A downloadable post-game mission has Ling's brother blame Huang for their death early on in the game. Huang responds by claiming it was the guy's fault for not being there to protect her.
- One where the blame doesn't get shifted on Huang for once: Hsin blames Chan being such a failure on his mother's upbringing. For the record, Hsin is Chan's dad.
- Not with the Safety on, You Won't: One of the characters in a random encounter complains the guns Huang got him don't work. Huang asks if he's tried releasing the safety. He didn't, and that was the only thing stopping him from going on a rampage.
- Only Sane Man: Huang starts off with shades of Honor Before Reason, but quickly becomes jaded enough that he becomes this.
- Perpetual Frowner: A number of the characters in the game always seem pissed off. Special honors go to Huang's uncle Kenny who frowns all the time, even when he's pleased with the results of your missions.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Subverted. The Revolver packs a punch, but the low capacity, slow fire-rate, and inability to move while firing considerably hampers its effectiveness.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Chan takes every bit of Huang's scathing sarcasm as genuine compliments.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When being forced to order the death of his own son for his alleged betrayal, Hsin decides to retire, leave the city, and give the leadership to Kenny.
- Sniper Rifle: Unlike past Grand Theft Auto games, sniper rifles are only usable in select missions, and its design is different in every version:
- In promotional material, it's either a H&K SR9T or an SR-25.
- In the DS version, it's a Sako TRG.
- In every other version, it's an odd AWM/M82A1 hybrid.
- The HUD icon resembles the Carbine Rifle, which is a Super-Deformed M16A2/AR-10 hybrid in Chinatown Wars.
- Taking You with Me: After Huang catches Kenny red-handed, the latter knows he doesn't have much time left, so he runs off to kill Hsin, blaming his orders on this whole mess.
- Tank Goodness: The Rhino tank makes a comeback after being absent from GTA IV. One mission has you stealing one and going on a rampage through the city to keep the cops occupied while one of your fellow Triads conducts a heist.
- Too Dumb to Live: Chan. He is always either drunk or on drugs (or both), which leads to him making poor decisions throughout the game. He ends up getting framed for treason by Kenny, resulting in his own father ordering Huang to kill him.
- The reporter Melanie Mallard decides to betray the ruthless gangsters she was working with by revealing their faces on TV because she was angry Huang insulted her and called out her hypocrisy. It winds up getting her killed.
- The Triads and the Tongs: More focused on their style of organized crime than any other GTA game.
- Vehicular Sabotage: "Pimp His Ride" has Huang doing this to the car of a famous street racer that Chan is set to compete against.
- You Killed My Father: Huang's one and only motivation throughout the game, beyond not wanting to die.
- You Need to Get Laid: Running Gag. Huang never does. It's the last thing he thinks of as the game ends.