Some critics have talked about Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars as if it's a return to the days before GTA3, when the perspective was top-down, the gameplay was simpler, and the games were supposedly more light-hearted and fun.
They're right. The perspective is top-down. But with the exception of that, and of the absence of voice acting, this is a modern GTA title. Everything looks and moves like the latest games, and the plot, mission structure and gameplay system works the same way. Even the post-GTA3 mix of serious themes treated seriously, satire and over-the-top lunacy is there.
I suspect the reason for the top-down view is technical. The more objects a game has to draw, the more system resources it consumes. With the normal GTA view, the game has to draw stuff all the way to the horizon, or until it runs out of memory. With a top-down view, the farthest thing that has to be drawn is the ground.
The game's pretty fun, in its modern GTA way. I'll be playing it again.