For the longest time, the GTA franchise has been held up as the pinnacle of what AAA games aspire to be, and one that has always been at the forefront of technological innovation. To that end, Rockstar Games has constantly strived to be on the bleeding edge, iterating and experimenting with each GTA title. The target being to usher in a new era of games, as they did back in the early 2000s.
It's been a little over than 20 years since the franchise has been around, and rarely has any other game franchise grown in the way GTA has. After a while, every franchise seems to plateau in terms of creativity or sales.
Neither applies to the GTA franchise, as fans have responded quite well to every game, but perhaps some more than others.
GTA Chinatown Wars is held up in high regard by a core, cult fanbase, but never managed to grab a mainstream audience. The game itself, however, was one with a lot of great things to offer and ideas that were bolder than some of the other mainline games in the series.
Is GTA Chinatown Wars the most underrated game in the series?
Perhaps it was down to the fact that the game was designed for a platform that wasn't quite the runaway success that it should have been. Handheld gaming consoles, although deeply beloved for the nostalgic charm that they hold, haven't been nearly as successful as their chunkier, more powerful home console counterparts.
GTA Chinatown Wars was initially released for the Nintendo DS, and then later the PlayStation Portable. The presentation was designed to fit the handheld aesthetic and design, with the perspective resembling the original Grand Theft Auto.
But by no means was the gameplay and design of the open-world archaic or bereft of features that fans had come to expect. The game arguably has the most well-appreciated feature in any GTA game, the narcotics dealing subsystem.
Essentially, the game allowed players to run their own narcotics side hustles and cut back-alley deals with suppliers and dealers to generate profit. That feature alone would go on to justify the game's existence and be considered a solid title.
The game was not nearly as successful as the PS2 era of GTA games, but perhaps it should be able to find new life on another platform.
GTA Chinatown Wars is the perfect mobile Grand Theft Auto experience
The truth is, although the mobile version ports of games like Vice City and San Andreas are functional and perfectly enjoyable, they are hardly the best games on mobile. In many ways, with the technology needed to run those games being readily available for cheap, it makes little sense to be experiencing an inferior version of those games.
GTA Chinatown Wars is the only game designed with handheld consoles in mind. Which is why Chinatown Wars works so well as a mobile game, as it was simply designed to be one.
So, even though Vice City and San Andreas have instant nostalgic value and pull, players should give Chinatown Wars a try. It is perhaps the best GTA game on mobile.