Gaming & Technology

new 'Grand theft auto' at hand

The first Grand Theft Auto game for Nintendo's mega-popular hand-held DS system hits stores Tuesday and promises the same kind of havoc that has made its predecessors so successful.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has been designed exclusively for the DS, says developer Rockstar Games, and takes advantage of the dual screens and stylus.

Among the intriguing uses of the stylus is the ability to tattoo your gang members.

Among the other new features in Chinatown Wars is a different camera view, allowing for a fully rotating look at the action, as well as a cel-shaded animated-like appearance.

Here's a quick primer on the series' past, so you know what else to expect.

Major games

'Grand Theft Auto'

Systems: PlayStation, PC, Game Boy Color — 1997, 1999.

Protagonist: Any of eight characters.

Settings: Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City.

Changes: The original game introduced players to the free-range environment that became one of the brand's top selling points.

'Grand Theft Auto 2'

Systems: PlayStation, PC, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color — 1999, 2000.

Protagonist: Claude Speed, whose goal is to dominate the city.

Setting: Anywhere City (seriously).

Changes: Gang missions added.

'Grand Theft Auto III'

Systems: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC — 2001.

Protagonist: You're an unnamed criminal looking to get revenge on the broad who turned on you after a bank robbery.

Setting: Liberty City (Think the Big Apple).

Changes: The series switches to 3-D.

'Grand Theft Auto: Vice City'

Systems: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC — 2002, 2003.

Protagonist: Tommy Vercetti, a recently released killer looking to rid himself of enemies after a drug deal goes wrong.

Setting: Vice City (Think Miami).

Changes: You can buy stuff like a film studio, a taxi company and more.

'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas'

Systems: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC — 2004, 2005.

Protagonist: Carl "CJ" Johnson, who is searching for his mom's murderer.

Setting: San Andreas (Think Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vegas)

Changes: New side missions, the ability to swim, and more.

'Grand Theft Auto IV'

Systems: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 — 2008.

Protagonist: Niko Bellic, an immigrant chasing that elusive American dream.

Setting: Liberty City

Changes: GTA IV introduced a variety of multiplayer modes and focused more on relationships between characters.

Controversy

The Grand Theft Auto series is arguably the most controversial in the industry's history.

The game has been cited as the motivation behind killings, inspired lawsuit after lawsuit, and infuriated parents when a hacker noticed that a sex game was hidden in the code of a previous version and could be played.

That so-called Hot Coffee game led to a class-action lawsuit and settlement.

So what controversies will the new game bring? We'll see.

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