As gamers still wait for a true Grand Theft Auto co-op experience, Rockstar Games keeps providing us with smaller snippets to whet our appetite. GTA IV has three co-op missions, complete with integrated story and acting. The latest GTA game, Chinatown Wars on the Nintendo DS, is a bit different. The ambitious series returns to its roots of top-down mayhem, this time in portable form. Sadly, we still don't get a story based co-op mode, but we do get some social co-op options and six co-op scenarios to hold us over.
I love the smell of pixelated blood in the morning.
So, what exactly is "social co-op?" First, some background: as you make your way through the world of Chinatown Wars you'll uncover different missions and options through your GPS. Eventually, the game opens up drug dealing as a meta game and you'll meet dealers along the streets of Liberty City. As you meet these dealers, you can add favorites to your GPS so you know how to get back and get those good prices on drugs. But it's not just dealers you can favorite; perhaps you find a hidden stash of weapons in a dumpster or one of the coveted golden lions after beating the game. It's with these favorites that you can connect via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection (or local) to send them to a buddy for a social co-op experience. Players are also able to trade drugs and weapons back and forth in this mode as well as send text messages to each other's PDA. It adds a unique MMO type feel to the game, and another layer of depth and strategy.
Sadly, the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection doesn't support any of the other multiplayer modes, including the Defend the Base co-op mode. Through local wi-fi, it has players hook up to defend three vehicles from an onslaught of gangs. Players can define times and difficulty options through six different scenarios. The main difference between the scenarios are the type of vehicles you are protecting; gas trucks, hot rods, helicopters, and the map layout. There's a bit of strategy and communication involved calling out incoming gang locations to your teammate, but there's very little depth otherwise. We blasted through all 6 scenarios at 3 minutes apiece in about a half an hour.
It's a shame there isn't a true co-op mode in Chinatown Wars, but what's there is a pretty nice distraction. The beauty of it is that you can hop in and out of it with relative ease through the in game PDA, and once you are done with co-op you can go back to enjoying a truly amazing single player experience. I was amazed at what the DS was able to provide in a completely seamless open world game with plenty of character.
Don't get this game just for the co-op, you'll be a bit disappointed. Get the game for the whole package, it's completely worth it.
The Co-Op Experience: There's a single co-op mode in GTA Chinatown Wars playable only via AD-HOC. Defend the Base – (Co-Op) – This has players in 8 co-operative scenarios where they’ll be defending territory against waves of enemy gang members. As the enemies attack specific targets, each wave will be come progressively harder and harder to take out.Social Co-Op Features:Using the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection you can chat and send waypoints to your friends in game. In this way you are guiding each other through the many things to discover in Liberty City. Additionally players can trade money, guns, and drugs online with whatever they need between their own single player games. This especially useful since the scale of money in the game is much different than most GTA's prior, and players will need to do a lot more footwork for cash.
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