Grand Theft Auto - Liberty City Stories

Review

posted 7/11/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2

Since this was originally meant to be a portable game Rockstar Games has gone ahead and made it more accessible for people on the go.  For example, the missions are generally shorter than what you would find in San Andreas or Vice City.  The various action bits are on a much smaller scale and aren't nearly as drawn out as before.  All of this makes sense for a portable game, but on the console it just seems too short and easy.

Thankfully it's not all bad for this PlayStation 2 version of Liberty City Stories, many of the game play problems critics (like myself) complained about when it was on the PSP have been ironed out.  The second analog stick makes it easy to look around while you're out and about.  Along with that we are also given a character that is easier to control thanks to all of the buttons on the PlayStation 2's control.  No more being limited by the lack of buttons on the PSP, Liberty City Stories really feels like all of the other Grand Theft Auto games on the consoles.

But not all of the game play problems have been addressed in this PlayStation 2 version.  Aiming is still a major problem in Liberty City Stories.  Although Rockstar Games has addressed the series' aiming problems in games like San Andreas, this port takes us back to a time when aiming was a major chore that generally included a lot of innocents dying by accident.  I also take issue with the vehicles loose handling; it would have been nice to see Rockstar address that problem in eight months they had to take it from the PSP to the PS2.

Another concern I have with this version of Liberty City Stories is the way it looks.  On the PSP the game shined, it was a little rough around the edges, but it was a great example of the power Sony's portable was packing.  Who knew that those small graphics would look so bad when stretched out to fit a full-sized television?  This port looks horrible, the graphics are fuzzy and there's a complete lack of detail.  The characters are all very simplistic looking and the vehicles have no definition to them at all.  The graphics are a mess; it's hard to believe that this game was released nearly two years after San Andreas.

Not only does the PSP version of this game look better (and allow you to add your own music), but it also offers you a lot more ways of playing the game.  The portable version of Liberty City Stories features seven different multiplayer modes, each allowing you to blow up five friends all at the same time.  These modes were fairly basic and limited when released on the PSP … but at least they were there.  Liberty City Stories on the PlayStation 2 lacks any of the multiplayer games found on the PSP; a real loss to what is otherwise a so-so port.  I'm not looking for six player online support or anything, but to simply take out all of the multiplayer modes is a real disappointment.

Liberty City Stories works as a portable video game.  On the small screen it's easier to forgive the shorter missions, lack of detail, and control problems.  As the first Grand Theft Auto game on the PSP fans and critics are more accepting of the shortcomings, Rockstar Games was able to do what seemed impossible only a few years earlier.  But we can't give the PlayStation 2 version the same pass.  On the PS2 it has to be compared to San Andreas and Vice City, two games that are better in nearly every way.  On the PS2 some of game's imperfections are harder to overlook.  With all of the better Grand Theft Auto games on the PS2, Liberty City Stories just doesn't feel necessary.

If you've never played the PSP version of Liberty City Stories then by all means check this PlayStation 2 port out.  However, I found that the PSP version of the game was just a much better experience, not to mention that it features sharper graphics and your own homemade soundtrack.  For $20 the game may be worth buying for collectors of the series, just don't expect anything on the same level of San Andreas or Vice City.




D
Liberty City Stories is a great PSP game that didn't need to be ported to the PlayStation 2. If you're in the market for a Grand Theft Auto game on Sony's current generation console it's better you stick with Vice City or San Andreas.


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