So, I'm slightly less hyped about Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars now that I've, er, finished the entire game in a month of big, big bites; given the game's addictiveness and enjoyability, my complaints should probably be taken with enough salt to pay off a centurion legion. Chinatown Wars pays tribute to the old-school GTA games with its top-down view, but also with its fairly crappy third-person shooting controls, and the last stages of the game involve way too much of this mediocre shooting. GTA games are always strongest in their driving system (the Midnight Club experience really pays off in the series' strong car differentiation), and CW is no exception, so I wish they'd built more of the missions around unusual variations on driving, which the engine does really well, instead of on-foot shooting, which it does really badly.
That said, there's a moment near the end that makes me love the game all over again. SPOILERS AHEAD! if you don't want to see them, but...
When driving around the marvelously-rendered city of Chinatown Wars, you'll sometimes see a little icon indicating an optional side mission. I spotted one around the back of a building I was driving past, so I carefully backed the car up, drove through a narrow alley, and found myself in a standard GTA trash-strewn back lot. Walked up to the optional-mission-giver, a tiny little female sprite. Up pops the cutscene (a series of comic-book illustrations), in which the woman asks me if I "wanna have a good time".
Ah, it's a hooker! Well, hookers are a long-standing tradition in the GTA world, one that I've defended before as an important part of the series' satirical perspective. Now, everyone knows what happens to hookers in GTA games. But this time, said hooker *also* seems to know---just as you start to respond to her, she says (I'm paraphrasing from memory here) "Oh I know your type! Guys like you get me in the car, then shoot me to get your money back! Well we're not going to stand for it any more---get him, girls!"
At which point dozens of prostitutes charge you, Sin City-style, exacting vengeance for all their sisters cut down in previous GTA games. Auto-critique plus violence---that's the good stuff!