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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

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Forget it Huang... it's Chinatown.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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 learns that it was his Uncle Kenny that was responsible for his father's death all along.
  • Broken Bridge: Averted, which is unusual for the series.
  • Camera Screw: Averted. When you're driving around, the camera always shows you what's coming ahead and even realigns itself in a snap when you do a sudden u-turn.
  • Chainsaw Good
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Kenny as he gets desperate to to get away with his deeds.
  • Cool Car: Although the top-down perspective and the lack of good camera angles make it difficult to appreciate them.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Not as vivid as the 3D Universe's Vice City or HD Universe's San Andreas, but Chinatown Wars brought Liberty City in some vivid colors like The Ballad of Gay Tony before it. Yet like any and all cities before and after, Liberty City is still a bunch of Wretched Hive disguised as a Sugar Bowl.
  • Creepy Crossdresser
  • 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 done by Huang, and also the quickest source of easy money for Huang.
    • The general tone was shifted back to the darker tones after Tbe Ballad of Gay Tony, being in more in line with Grand Theft Auto IV.
    • Also see Jerkass below and Darkness Induced Audience Apathy in the YMMV section.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Averted: Huang quickly gets fed up with all the stuff people are expecting him to do, and more than once wishes to go back to his luxurious life in China.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Huang Lee. A lot of the cast members have shades of this though.
  • Dead Star Walking: Ling gets a poster in the packaging and is quickly set up as a potential love interest. Then is killed after two missions.
  • Dirty Cop: Wade Heston, though he is more or less a Reasonable Authority Figure for Huang.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Drug trading can build up huge reserves of cash early on.
    • Also 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 run her over to get your money back" trick. However, the one you can pick up instantly assumes that's what's going to happen and turns violent.
  • Dynamic Loading
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Many of the characters can be found in the Grand Theft Auto IV police database, released a year earlier.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted. Most cars take a beating before bursting into flames.
  • The Everyman: Huang, the most Everyman protagonist GTA has ever had.
  • 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.
  • Fat Idiot: Chan Jaoming.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The flamethrower.
  • 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: The plot is possibly the most convoluted of all GTA games.
  • Gatling Good: It's a great minigun.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Dual Pistols lets you do this.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Huang develops these.
  • Jerkass: Chan Jaoming (the oblivious kind) and Zhou Ming (the egotistically dismissive kind)
    • Of course, Hsin Jaoming is this too. Big time. Huang himself isn't the nicest person in the world.
  • Kill ’Em All By the ending, only a couple of named characters are left alive.
  • 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 Jaoming, who acts like a teenager despite being forty years old.
  • Molotov Cocktail
  • 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.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Played with. 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.
  • 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.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Chan who takes every bit of Huan's scathing sarcasm as genuine compliments.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Hsin becomes so frustrated with leading the Tongs that he decides to leave and give the leadership to Kenny.
  • Sea Mine
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Ling. In one of the downloadable mission packs, her brother comes for revenge.
  • 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.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: More focused on their style of organized crime than any other GTA game.
  • Token Good Teammate: How Officer Wade Heston describes Huang.
    Wade Heston: Hell, you might as well take in everyone in this place... except Huang. He's a good kid, for a rich snot.
  • Wide Open Sandbox
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Chinatown Wars


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