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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