Friday, December 03, 2010

GTA Chinatown Wars: How to set a player-defined waypoint

Figure 1. North Holland
Short answer? Tap the map. If that doesn't do it for you, read on.

GTA Chinatown Wars features a global positioning system (GPS), which can be toggled on and off, and which can be used to drive along plotted routes to known (or discovered) destinations — or to places on the map which the player has never been to. (No driving in water; you need to find a boat.) You can also mark a place and "add it to your Favorites."

Well, dudette, it ain't that simple if you've just picked up the game and slotted it into your DS. After hours of playing time, I can report that all that promised stuff is possible. I've done it. What I can't say is exactly how I did it! For some reason, it gets confusing...

So, its a project with me. I'll try to identify all the widgets and whatsits involved, and how to use them. E.g., in the bottom window, bottom left, we see the Radio Tuner. This goes from the BL corner right to the Helicopter Camera toggle. The radio is only active when you are in a car, as is the helicopter view camera. The three icons to the right of the radio are Brief, Email, and Stats. Tapping the About button (upper right corner, looks like a cameltoe) reveals that I am playing Version 534 of the Badger OS, which probably explains why my email and stats buttons look slightly different from Figure 1.

Ignore the gun and grenades icons, and also the cash on hand dollar amount. Throwing a grenade, Molotov cocktail, bundle of dynamite, etc. is explained during one of the missions. The numbers under the gun seem to reveal the amount of available ammo divided among available clips.

If you are just starting the game, the cash on hand will be close to zero. You need to slavishly follow the story line to get a little cash ahead. After that, your options open up somewhat. Short of drug dealing (you'll need to complete a particular mission to activate that), your cash options are: murdering pedestrians (or picking up stray cash on the street left over from muggings or hit-and-runs), rampages at various places around the city, the deadly-deadly HoboTron on Colony Island, and Scratch Cards.

I recommend Scratch Cards if you have the patience for them; there is no house percentage, unless technically the house is You. The best card, IMHO, is Liberty Lotto, which pays off $10, $100 or $1000 — and the $1000 amount always seems to pay off eventually. With a stake no larger than $250, you can work your way up to $15,000 or more, doubling every 20 to 40 minutes. The green I'm Rich card has a three house payoff, which cab bet you a fancy uptown safehouse. After that, the best it can yield is a $200 payoff — the house icons can't match after the first hit.

The date and time display in the middle of the top edge show game time, not real time. There is also a WiFi connection display just left of the About button, top-right.

There are two ways to get to GPS. Either tap the "radar screen" (round map) with your stylus, or click the PDA button, then click GPS. They both take you to the same global positioning screen, i.e., the entire bottom panel replaced by a map view and many controls.

Clicking the top-left-ish yellow i button ("information") sprinkles this panel liberally with circled yellow question marks. Since we are trying to get information about PLAYER-DEFINED WAYPOINTS, pay close attention to the Help on the top left, and far bottom right.

When the top-left Help says, "Touching this button will center the map on your current position or your GPS destination," the or mentioned here is the exclusive or (L. vel), meaning EITHER your position (Star Trek emblem) OR your GPS destination (the green checkered flag)! Also note that what this button does is CENTER THE MAP — it does not define a waypoint! It toggles between current position and destination each time you tap it, and centers the map. That's all it does.

That's a big hint about Waypoints, and here's another: Suffice to say, it's possible to drop a checkered flag, a "player-defined waypoint," anywhere on the map. It seems to take a double (or triple, or quadruple) tap of the stylus, but after that the path to your destination is marked on your radar screen (and also on the top panel, depending on your PDA settings.) I don't know what causes the delay. Persist.

Once you've got a "player-defined waypoint," examine the Star icon on the left edge of your GPS screen. Your waypoint is listed! Click the blue question mark to add your waypoint to Favorites. From there, you can select it like any other destination with a charted route; or you can delete any Favorite if you feel so inclined. This ad hoc waypoint will vanish when you reach your destination, if you don't save it.

You may also tap any object on the map — such as a blue or green house icon — for a charted route.

The astute reader may notice some details I've glossed over — how to erase a waypoint without going through the Favorites overhead, for example. I suspect toggling the GPS on/off, but I'm sure there's more to discover.

So, meanwhile... Hope that helps!

Figure 2. The Statue of Happiness, on Happiness Island (where else?)

Addendum: In Re Cop Cars

Cop cars have good handling. They corner very well. Good on acceleration and speed. Drive a cop car. The horn button toggles your siren. Select gives you cop radio. If you screw up while masquerading as fuzz and accidentally commit vehicular homicide, any regular cops nearby will probably give you a pass on that. Pretty subjective, I know. BTW, if you act like a bongslacker the cops gang up fast. I took out four or five patrol cars (not counting the one I was in) and still had five on me at the bust. U rok, GTA!



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