I'm an American Asian (half-Chinese and half-Japanese). Before you come to a conclusion where this is going, I do not consider myself associated with either Chinese or Japanese culture, so the game's depiction of Asians is not an issue with me. I just want to put this out in the open before anyone assumes that I'm not buying this game because of my race.
A Case of Deja Vu
From the Rockstar Games website:
Following his father's murder, Huang Lee has a simple mission: deliver an ancient sword to his Uncle Kenny to ensure his family retains control of the Triad gangs of Liberty City. Huang is a spoiled rich kid who expects everything to run smoothly, but his trip does not go exactly as planned. After being robbed and left to die, he will search for honor, riches and revenge in the most dangerous and morally bankrupt city in the world.
Haven't I heard a plot like this before? Oh, like, in a million movies! If I would overlook a plotline like this on a shelf of movies, what would make me react any different if it were on a shelf of games? Because it's GTA? While GTA may be associated with quality writing and gameplay, I'm not convinced that I'd find anything better than, "You killed my father, now I kill you."
Just Because It's Red Doesn't Make It Blood
I'm a proponent of mature content in games, but I don't see the difference between trading drugs and trading vegetables. GTA is famous/infamous for its depictions of illicit activities, but I've developed an indifferent attitude towards games of its nature, because I don't see them as particularly new experiences. Call it insensitivity towards violence or drugs, but if you shoot someone or trade a bag of coke in a game, I don't find that shocking.
Haven't We Met?
The DS presents the potential for some interesting gameplay to the GTA universe, but I don't believe the features really use DS capabilities in creative ways. For instance, wouldn't it have been more interesting if Huang Lee was a drug user as well as a drug dealer, and the DS would be used to "shoot up," or perform CPR on someone like in Feel The Magic XY/XX? The DS features in Chinatown Wars feels "safe" in a lot of ways. It's as if the minigames have just been reskinned for an M-rating. I believe the reasoning behind the design of the DS was to enhance immersion, but Chinatown Wars didn't try hard enough to achieve that "I'm a criminal" experience.
This Is NOT A Test
It concerns me when websites regard the sales of Chinatown Wars as a litmus test for mature-rated games on the DS, and regard it as an obvious oil and water issue. If sales improve or not, it should not affect the development of the next M-rated game for the DS. Chinatown Wars does not prove anything. It's just a game.
Why My Two Cents
I wrote my personal reason for not purchasing this game because it has nothing to do with the rating or the platform like the analysts claim; I'm just not interested. Perhaps I'm not alone.