There is plenty to do outside of the main story though. Rampages are back, and scattered around the city. For those who aren’t familiar, Rampages are essentially a mini-game where you are outfitted with unlimited ammunition for a powerful firearm and projectile weapon (hand grenade or Molotov) and are tasked with racking up combo kills and wreaking general havoc in your vicinity in order to score points and earn yourself bronze, silver or gold medals. You can also replay these in order to improve your score, and you will find yourself doing that, given their short yet action-packed nature.
Odd jobs are also back, which makes this reviewer pleased as can be. Next time you car jack a taxi, ambulance, police vehicle, or fire truck, press the Select button and you will start to carry out their missions. This is a great way to earn some extra cash as well as give you something to do during your shorter play sessions, but you could just as easily sit there and get lost doing it on your couch until you complete the Odd Job. Odd jobs are not limited to driving though, as you can also now go into Tattoo Parlors in order to work a part-time job as a tattoo artist.
And that’s where you start to run into some trouble with the PSP version of the game. Chinatown Wars was designed with the DS and its touch screen in mind, and it shows during some portions of this game on the PSP. For instance, you obviously don’t use a stylus in the tattoo parlor, you just futz around with the analog stick in different directions until the tattoo is complete. It’s not as satisfying, and this problem persists in other areas of the game, like finding guns in dumpsters, breaking locks, moving cranes around, or pouring gasoline into bottles for Molotovs. That’s not to say that the analog stick doesn’t do the job–it does–but for many of these little mini-games, the stylus was a superior input method. The good news is that when it comes to hot wiring cars or disabling bombs, the analog stick works fine, and just as well as the stylus, so it isn’t ever a “heat of the moment” kind of issue.
It’s not all bad when it comes to the controls on the PSP though. Tossing Molotovs and grenades, whether on foot or in a vehicle, is much easier now, as you just hold down the Left trigger and press the circle button to gauge your distance and toss. You don’t have to worry about trying to drive with one hand while you direct with the stylus anymore, which was a bit awkward in the original.
Money is at a premium in Chinatown Wars, especially if you rely on missions and dead pedestrians for your cash. What you will end up spending the most time with in order to make a quick buck is the in-game economy. The quickest way to make cash in Chinatown Wars is through the buying and selling of drugs. Drug dealers are scattered throughout the city, and they will sell their products at high and low prices as well as buy them at these price points. The prices are fluctuating, and it’s your job to take advantage of them by buying low, stowing drugs away in your safehouse until someone is buying high, and then make a tasty profit off of someone else’s habits. I would get lost for hours at a time just buying and selling, both in the DS version and in my return to the game for the PSP, sometimes veering from my route because I noticed I was approaching the territory of a drug dealer I had become familiar with.
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