Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars [$9.99 / Free] hit the App Store in late January of this year and we absolutely loved it in our review. Prior to its release, there were quite a few good Grand Theft Auto-like games, but none ever really approached the depth and complexity of a true Rockstar game. Chinatown Wars blew everything out of the water with a full Grand Theft Auto experience, complete with tons of missions to complete, a ridiculous amount of cars to steal, and even touchscreen based mini-games for various in-game tasks.

Chinatown Wars worked fine on the iPad, but like so many games with controls designed and optimized for play on the iPhone, it definitely needed some tweaking. Also, pixel doubling wasn't very kind on the game's graphics. Rockstar responded by releasing Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD [$9.99] which is the same game from a content perspective, with completely redone controls and graphics for the larger screen of the iPad. The in-game lighting has been improved, polygon counts have been increased, and explosions even look better.

If you own an iPad, and you've ever been remotely interested in Grand Theft Auto games, Chinatown Wars HD is a game you need on your device. There just isn't anything else like it on the App Store, the higher resolution graphics look great, the controls work well, and overall it's really hard to find anything to complain about other than this it its own app instead of a universal update to the existing Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the iPhone. However, with any luck, Rockstar might just roll these high resolution graphical assets in to a Retina Display update for the new iPod Touch and iPhone 4.

  • Nigra

    When the iPhone version first saw the light a lot of reviews stated than the only drawback was the low quantity of people and cars around simultaneously, as well as the lack of environmental sfx.

    Are these issues present still on the iPad version?

    • swarmster

      Ditto. There also seems to be some confusion as to whether the shadows and reflections from the PSP version are back. Is a more detailed review coming?

    • TheGreenGremlin

      After a quick play session, it does sound like environmental sound fx are back, and the character models look a bit more detailed. However, the reflections and lighting effects (specifically bloom lighting) of the PSP version aren't back. The framerate does drop a bit when there are a lot of cars / people onscreen. Overall, though, the graphics are a vast improvement over the iPhone game.

  • http://theirongeek.com F0REM4N

    Patiently awaiting game center support on some of these "AAA" titles.

  • seleneluna

    Not available in Japan again. Does Rockstar games ignore Japanese market?

    • endekks

      I hear you on that. Hat getting my hopes up so often to be met with NO RESULTS FOUND.

    • matthew

      Same here. No Japan support again!!

  • marco11

    At last, I was waiting whole day for it!

  • dexx0008

    +1 would be nice if retina update came out...

    • PahnCrd

      Indeed, and they should release it with the better lighting from the PSP version since the iPhone 4 is vastly more powerful.

  • sam

    What is that screen shot of Armed Response? I don't remember that from the iPhone one...

  • Mark Wilson

    The framerate can be slow and jittery when driving out into a large intersection. Pretty chunky, hard to ignore unfortunately.

    Having said that, the graphics are nearly all upgraded. Your field of view is larger than on any previous GTA:CTW incarnation, and after you've set the lookahead distance to 7 or 8 in settings, it plays nicely. The control placement is good, with the notorious left and right buttons seeming to fit better here than on the iPhone version. I beat the game on my iPhone and I'll do it again on the iPad now. But I do hope there will be an update that irons out the big dips in the framerate.

  • Peter321

    Retina Display support for us early supporters of the game - PLEASE!

    • http://www.generationstarwars.com John Hood

      Seconded along with a Game Center update.

  • Brinkman

    C'mon guy!

  • omg

    offtopic: site background - set to white, so i can read it whilst the page is loading.

    • Blicked

      I second the change the website background from white. I can't even view this site on my BlackBerry (yeahyeah, I know.. shut up. I love my BlackBerry for work/life, my iPad for games.).

      • Blicked

        er... TO white- not FROM white. Damn pints.

  • Jim

    What about Gameloft's Gangster games.. They look much more like the true GTA PC/Console games... I don't know about anyone else, but the "top down" graphics of the Rockstar game does not look at good..

    • Spamcan

      I can't say I've played it on an iDevice but Chinatown Wars on DS and PSP never felt like a real GTA to me ether. I love the franchise and will still play and enjoy GTA1&2 on occasion but GTA:CW and GTA4 just rub me the wrong way. I wish they'd just port over GTA3 already, it's not like the current gen devices couldn't handle it.

      • mgabrys

        No kidding. I loved Vice City Stories on my PSP - would like to see it (or GTA3 or Vice City) on the iPhone / iPad. Wouldn't care if it was over 500mb. Hell Myst was a gig - I'll take all the crowd and radio please.

    • endekks

      The true original GTA games *were* top down. ^____^

    • Rollon

      Wut. Gangstar looks utterly dire! What is it, 4 cars max on screen at once or something? It looks like someone took a machine gun to the Vice City data files then purposely halved the frame rate and threw it on an iDevice.

  • george

    Not doing it for me :(

  • http://projectnext.info Nigra

    when this coming to Android? ...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    ......................... yeah I know, HAHAHAHHAA XD

    • NiNtee

      Android...god I'm so glad I switched to iphone this year... MUCH better apps and a cleaner OS.

      This game is going on my wish list for when I get my iPad, probably 2nd gen iPad.

  • Brinkman

    Needs retina display update as well as multi tasking.

  • Vic20

    Rockstar stop being cheap by re-releasing your "top down" Nintendo DS game with "improved" graphics and give us San Andreas Stories already.

    Gameloft is dominating you like a gimp wearing a leather hood with a zipper mouth.

  • Mr. Reeee

    I've never played any of the GTA games, and I couldn't resist.
    Bought it. Played for about an hour.
    It looks great.
    The joystick control is very sensitive.
    Can't wait to get into it...

    • Spamcan

      GTA:CW is a horrible way to introduce yourself to the series. The game lacks any of the franchises trademark humor, the excellent radio stations or the more sadistic gameplay elements and rewards that made the original top down GTA games great.

  • jase

    not feelin it. its hard to control with any precision, the graphics are just ok, the main character is as big as a car:/ doesnt play well at all. disappointing for me to be honest. reaffirms my thoughts that main console games dont work well, point and click, stratergy, more pc games translate well, but a lot of console games dont. this is an example. its not the gta i know and love.

    same with skateboarding/snowboarding/shooters. waste of time playing them and struggling with the controls il stick to my xbox for them and from now on play line drawing .point n click games etc that actually are better on a touchscreen, not games that suffer for it.

  • http://twitter.com/eboyfly Ehren Lentsch

    Yeah they really need to update to the retina display on my new iPod touch. i wont even play this game because the retina display makes "un-HD" games look just plain terrible. Oh well though, im definitely willing to wait for a retina update to this amazing game

  • BOB

    lol yeah.. needs retina, i can't believe that non-retina games on iphone 4 look worse than what it looks like on a 2g