Outside of the standard actions, you'll also find yourself doing a whole lot of unusual things - from hotwiring cars to rummaging through bins to assembling sniper rifles. On the DS, all of these activities were conducted via the touch screen - a design quirk that I absolutely loved the first time around: one minute you'd be swiping the stylus to smash the lock off a security gate; the next you'd be rubbing the screen in a bid to perform heart massage to a dying man in the back of a stolen ambulance. This PSP version uses a combination of the shoulder buttons and the nub to replicate these actions, and I'm happy to report that they work almost as well. You don't get quite the same feeling of interaction, but you do get the same sense of glee when you make your first Molotov - and that's what counts.
It would spoil the fun to reveal all the things you'll do in Chinatown Wars - and in any case, it would take me ages - but let's just say that the game boasts some of the most inventive missions in GTA's history. Niko Bellic's adventures occasionally leant too heavily on the "go to place A, kill person B" mission template, but here you'll rarely be bored. It's quite a tricky game, however, and you may hit the odd difficulty spike, but there's nothing here that'll keep you stuck for long. When you do fail a mission you're immediately given the option to restart, and there's usually a "skip trip" option to save you traipsing across town. If you particularly like a mission you come across, you can also replay old assignments via a noticeboard in Huang's apartment. This is a long overdue feature for GTA games, so let's hope it becomes a standard issue for future titles.
While we're on the subject, Rocktar, I'd like every new GTA to include Chinatown Wars' drug-dealing mini-game. It's fun, it's satisfying, and it's almost my favourite thing about the whole package. In essence, dealing in this game works a bit like stocks and shares - only you carry the goods yourselves, and the cops will kill you for doing it. Huang is forced to start selling drugs early on in the game's plot, and from that point on it becomes your main source of cash flow. As you explore the city, you'll spot little blue dots on your radar; go and visit them and you'll find a dirty new friend who's eagerly waiting to sell you something. A handy little buyer's guide will tell you whether what you're getting is a good deal, and how much profit you stand to make. Buy low, sell high and you'll make a fat little profit.
As Wez said in his review of the DS game earlier this year, the whole drug-dealing element of Chinatown Wars is surprisingly full-on. You might expect a handheld GTA to be less "colourful" than its home console counterparts, but if anything it's actually more twisted than what we've come to expect. You'll get an email from a friend saying that he and his friends need some coke, so you drive around town collecting as much of the white stuff as you can. Then you head over to your contact, offload the stuff for a massive profit, and use some of the cash to load up on skag. It's immensely satisfying when you pull off a massive deal, and since there's always a risk that the deal will be crashed by the police, you're never 100 per cent relaxed. With past GTAs, being arrested was little more than a nuisance; here it's a threat to your livelihood. Oh, and the banter with your fellow dealers also contains some of the nastiest, most bleakly funny dialogue to ever grace a video game. "I was gonna use the ecstasy for personal entertainment," says one, "but if you want it, I'll just jerk off later instead."
I'm running out of time, and yet there's still a lot of stuff that I've not covered. There's the new wanted system, evolved from GTA IV, which lets you lower your wanted level by trashing the cop cars that pursue you. There's the fantastic soundtrack, now boasting an extra six radio stations exclusive to the PSP, giving us a total of 11 options; each is mixed by a guest artist, and the contributors include Deadmau5, Tortoise and DFA Records. There's the never-ending hunt for CCTV cameras to destroy - Chinatown Wars' equivalent to the obligatory collectibles. There's the new PSP-only character - a deluded reporter with a death wish.
But you know what? I'm not going to say any more. I'm just going to say this: after thinking about it for a bit more, there's no doubt in my mind. GTA: Chinatown Wars is my favourite handheld game of all time. It's funny, it's full of great ideas, and above all else it's wickedly fun. Whether you're a GTA veteran or someone who's never played one of these games before, you should know that this is one of the best titles available for your PSP - or, indeed, for your DS. To miss it would be criminal.