Grand Theft Auto - Liberty City Stories

Review

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

This year the Grand Theft Auto series has come under a renewed battle waged by politicians, parent groups, and a certain Florida lawyer.  These days it seems like Rockstar’s popular gangster-simulator is nothing more than a lightning rod for media attention; a poster-boy for everything that is wrong with modern day video games.  But despite its bad reputation, Grand Theft Auto has always managed to come through with a compelling story, an exciting world to explore, and plenty of immoral activities to waste your time with. 

Completely ignoring the assault against the series, Rockstar Games proudly brings us a brand new Grand Theft Auto game ... only this time it’s for your Sony PSP.  Although this is not the first time we’ve been treated to a GTA game on a portable game system it is the first time we’ve experienced a fully 3D world on the go (both the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance titles used the old-style 2D world).

Right up front there’s a question on just about every PSP owners mind: does Liberty City Stories still feel like a Grand Theft Auto game?  Can they really pull off a full city (with all the music, voice acting, and mini-games we’ve come to expect from the console titles) on one of those dinky little UMD’s??  Thankfully the answer on both counts is a resounding yes!  This is an amazing experience that manages to fit just about everything we love about Grand Theft Auto into one portable game.

As you might guess from the title, Liberty City Stories takes place in the same Liberty City found in Grand Theft Auto III, a faux-New York City complete with three separate islands (Portland, Staunton Island, and Shoreside Vale).  The map itself is exactly the same as it was four years ago when the series made its 3D debut on the PlayStation 2, so veteran GTA fans will feel right at home in this new adventure.

Despite being in a familiar locale, Liberty City Stories manages to weave a brand new web of intrigue.  Set three years before the events of Grand Theft Auto III, LBC tells the story of Tony Cipriani, a mafia-type that gets caught up working for some real rough dudes.  If you’ve played any of the previous Grand Theft Auto adventures you will already know pretty much how the story works -- you start with very little and work your way up spiting anybody that gets in your way.  The theme of the game may not be any different, but there are some nice twists and turns in the story that make it a real pleasure to go through.

The game itself works as something of a cross between Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, combining the best elements of both games to make a real sharp PSP game.  These changes mean that you will finally be able to race through the streets on your own motorcycle, you’ll be able to enter certain buildings for even more exploration, and you’ll be able to choose what get-up you want to wear (including everything from a jogging suit to something that would have been worn in Scorsese’s Goodfellas).  Those who went through San Andreas recently may be disappointed that this game does not feature many of the additions we’ve grown to appreciate – such as climbing over fences, swimming, and flying airplanes.  Thankfully the game is so packed with content that it won’t take long before you’ve completely forgotten about some of those missing additions.

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