Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Review

Developer: Rockstar Leeds Publisher: Rockstar Games
Release Date: October 24, 2005 Also On: PS2 and PSP

We all expected it, we all dreamed of it…a full-3D Grand Theft Auto game for the PSP. Heck, most gamers would be happy with a flat port of GTA III and to be quite frank, upon hearing the game’s title, “Liberty City Stories�, that’s exactly what I expected. But would they really do that? Would they release a straight port of a four year old PS2 game onto the PSP?

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GTA: Liberty City Stories is a completely new game, except of course, for the fact that the city is the same as GTA III. You play as Toni Capriani and you have family problems. Not even a fourth of the way through the game, your ma calls a hit on you (you thought your family was dysfunctional). The story really is not the focus of the game as it has been in the past 2 GTA games for the PS2. This game has a story, but most of the missions just seem very random and simple. For instance, you might go to a mission and fight in a gang war, but then the next mission from the same person is about something completely different. But a game is about more than story, right?

GTA: LCS’s engine is nothing more than the Vice City engine with less polygons. Either this game was in development since before San Andreas came out, or Rockstar decided that there was no way they could get the SA engine running on the PSP. Either way, it’s great. You have motorcycles, helicopters, you can shoot out tires, go indoors, etc. But like I said, it has none of the new features from San Andreas; no bikes, no player stats.

The graphics look nice, the faces of main characters are intricate and look better than characters in Vice City, but non-main characters tend to look blocky with blurry textures. The frame rate is what most people worry about, but I really did not notice much of a drop at all, even with many enemies and vehicles on-screen. Unfortunately, you still have to deal with the “Welcome to Staunton Island/Portland/Shoreside Vale� loading screens, and it has to load for a few seconds before and after each cutscene.

For the radio stations, I have mixed feelings. There are a good number of stations, including LCFR, the talk station, complete with Lazlo, but the rest of the stations are, well, not very interesting. There is no licensed music, which means you’ll be listening to generic rock chords, generic hip hop beats, or generic opera music. One other gripe I have about the radio system is the fact that you cannot disable radio completely for when you are not plugged in. When I’m at school or in the car, chances are I won’t want any sound at all, so why waste the battery by spinning the UMD for radio stations if I won’t be hearing it? But wait… could there be a redeeming quality of the radio system? Yes, in fact there is. You can use MP3s on your Memory Stick Duo as a separate radio station, which will save some battery and save your ears from crappy generic rap!

The game length is great; it took me over a week to even get to Staunton Island, which is only a third of the way through the game. This game, by default, boldly uses the analog nub; but to my surprise, I liked it a lot. You have the choice to switch it back to d-pad control, but this game is better with analog control. You have full control over exactly how much you want to turn, for instance. You can move the nub just a little bit whereas with a d-pad it’s either pressed or not.

Most importantly, this game has multi-player! Every GTA fan’s dream has been multiplayer ever since GTA III, and although San Andreas has some multiplayer, it is very simple and is only a little mini-game. In LCS, you get lots of multiplayer modes, and each mode is very unique and fun. The only real downside to the multiplayer is the lack of infrastructure play, but I can see why that would be difficult in a game like this.

All in all, GTA Liberty City Stories is a great new game in the series with its share of new innovations just like the past games. Although the story is a little lacking, the missions are somewhat simple and easy to follow, which is good for a portable game. Speaking of the portability of this game, it’s a joke. You can’t get 2 hours on this game from a full charge. The constant streaming of level and audio content makes it impossible for this game to be what we would consider a battery saver. GTA: LCS is one of the best titles for the PSP and is great for anyone who isn’t offended easily by violence, and almost always has access to a power outlet.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.8
Written by Dave Review Guide

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