Grand Theft Auto - Liberty City Stories

Review

posted 11/10/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP

Tony Cipriani is not a lovable character … at least, not at first.  For much of the game it’s hard to identify with this guy; he seems awfully distant, just doing what he’s told and rarely talking back.  But as you work your way through the lengthy story you’ll start to appreciate Tony, he’s never the character that Tommy Vercetti or Carl Johnson are, but he gets the job done and fills in some of the gaps between now and his appearance in Grand Theft Auto III.  Thankfully the supporting cast (which includes both familiar faces and brand new characters) is top notch, offering a lot of eccentric players with all kinds of memorable quotes.

Although most of us have already visited Liberty City, it’s hard not to be impressed by this handheld game.  Four years ago when I was meeting Tony Cipriani for the first time, I would never have believed that they could fit an entire Grand Theft Auto adventure on a handheld system; it’s a testament to both the developers of the game and the PSP for being able to pull off such an impressive first-generation title.

Seeing as it’s meant to be a portable game, Rockstar has gone ahead and made Liberty City Stories a little more accessible for those who only want to play for a couple of minutes at a time.  Obviously there are all kinds of short mini games (including a few that aren’t all that short), but even the missions themselves have been condensed to make them easier to bust through for those on a limited schedule.  It’s not that there are less missions to complete in the game, but the missions themselves are often a little simpler (and shorter) than their console counterpart.  You will be doing the same kinds of things you’ve grown used to in other GTA titles, but most missions can be completed in only a matter of minutes, unlike a few of the lengthy challenges in San Andreas.

Another thing you will notice about this portable GTA is that it’s a little harder to control than we’re used to.  The various vehicles still feel the same (for the most part), but some may run into trouble running around town on foot.  A large part of the problem is due to the PSP’s lack of buttons, there just aren’t enough buttons to facilitate a working manual camera system, which leads to some very unfortunate camera angles.  This aspect of the game didn’t give me too many headaches, but it’s clear that it was a problem they weren’t able to iron out before finishing the game.

The loose car controls and strange camera angles are easy to get used to, but there is one problem with this version that should have been the top priority for Rockstar – aiming!  Aiming your weapon in Liberty City Stories is not all that different from aiming in earlier Grand Theft Auto titles, but there are some strange quirks that make it a real chore to blast through hordes of enemies on the PSP.  For one thing, when you pull the R-Trigger to aim it doesn’t always mean you will point your gun at the right person.  You are able to select different targets by pushing left and right on the directional pad, but even that comes with some problems – mainly that you are cycling through tons of targets while being shot at.  Worse yet, you can’t actually run and aim your gun at the same time, which pretty much leaves you as an open target at all times.  You will learn fairly quickly that it’s better to just use large, powerful weapons instead of the small stuff you get early in the game.

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