Over the past several years, not only has the Grand Theft
Auto series seen releases on many different console and PC
platforms, it's also become one of the most popular, not to
mention controversial game series in history. Offering the
type of wide-open gameplay most games could only dream of achieving,
the games have gradually become more and more a staple of console
gaming with each new release. With the release of Grand Theft
Auto: Liberty City Stories for Sony's PSP system, Rockstar
has somehow managed to package the majority of the things that
make the GTA series so exciting to play on the console systems,
into a portable version that's not only one of the most ambitious
PSP releases to date, but also a true console GTA experience
that can be held in the palm of your hands and taken with you
wherever you go. But the main question on GTA fans' minds is
just how many corners were cut in order to bring this game
to the portable PSP. And as shocking as it may sound, not many
In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, you take on the
role of Toni Cipriani, famed wise guy for the Leone family.
Having spent the past few years in hiding after killing a made
man, you return to the crime scene to set things straight once
and for all. In a town that's now full of drug trafficking,
homocide, and almost every type of theft imaginable, it's not
going to be easy to carry out the tasks laid out for you by
the Leone family crime bosses. To make matters worse, you'll
have to contend with crooked politicians, trigger-happy mafia
hit men, not to mention one of the most corrupt police forces
in the world. Even with these nearly insurmountable odds, you're
still going to have to fight tooth and nail to once again restore
your reputation within the Leone family and take back what's
rightfully yours in this city of turmoil.
The one thing that makes playing any GTA so much fun is the
wide-open style of play, and this PSP version is no different.
You can do just about anything you want, from stealing cars
to beating poor pedestrians into a coma. The main part of the
game assigns you different missions to complete. As you complete
one mission, you'll return to the syndicate boss in order to
get a new assignment. These assignments can range from taking
out drug dealers who are invading your turf, to rescuing other
members of your gang from harm's way. Along the way, you can
even take on odd jobs, such as driving a taxi, in order to
make extra money. In GTA, you can be sure that you'll never
have trouble finding something to do.
The control system in GTA is very straightforward. You'd think
in a game that allows your character to do so many different
things that control might be a problem, but as in most previous
GTA games, this one seems to pull it all off with great ease.
Everything you do is marked on a tiny map for you that's always
on display in the lower left of the screen. If you ever get
lost and are not sure what to do next, just take a look at
the map. The game also does a really solid job of explaining
all of the different control moves found throughout the game.
As you take on a new challenge that calls for new game play
moves, the game guides you through the steps as you go, making
it easy to get a firm handle on the many different controls
found throughout the game. Everything from merely walking around,
to driving various vehicles in the game is easily done after
a short amount of practice and most controls in the game, no
matter what they are, seem really spot on. Anyone wondering
if Rockstar was going to be able to pull off the wonderful
controls of the previous GTA games on the PSP need not worry.
After a few minutes with Liberty City Stories you'll swear
you are playing one of its console brethren. The bottom line
is that what Rockstar was able to pull off with this PSP version
of GTA is incredible and a true testament to the talent of
their developers and the power of the PlayStationPortable.
As much fun as the single player experience of GTA:LCS is,
the multiplayer games are just as exciting. Using the PSP's
integrated wi-fi, as many as 6 players can hook up and take
each other on in the many different mini-games. Ranging from
challenges in which you have to steal each other's cars, to
driving an enormous tank around the city destroying everything
you can within the time limit, there's tons of stuff to do
with other players. There's even a survivor mode where it's
just one all out war, with every man for himself in a driving,
running, and shooting extravaganza. As if the single player
game wasn't insane enough, leave it to Rockstar to amp it up
a notch with some clever multi-player action. Easily one of
the best sets of multi-player features we've seen to date in
a PSP game.
It was easy to be skeptical when we began seeing screenshots
of GTA:LCS. Most people assumed the worst when it came to imagining
how the GTA experience was going to play out on a smaller screen.
Sony has always made it a point to tell the gaming public that
they designed the PSP to be a portable console experience,
and Rockstar has now made it a point to bring that claim to
reality. From the moment you fire up this game you'll know
right off that never before has such a visually ambitious game
been created for a portable game system. All of the 3-D graphics
in the game look spectacular, even competing on some levels
with the sights found in the console games. Everything has
a nice, smooth flow to it that even further adds to the already
realistic imagery found throughout the game's many areas. The
character models in the game all look fantastic, with even
the minor characters strung throughout the streets of Liberty
City having a very realistic movement to them. It's easy to
tell that a lot of time and energy went into the production
of this game, and no matter how many times you play it you'll
still catch yourself shaking your head at just what Rockstar
was able to accomplish in bringing the GTA series to the PSP.
Rockstar didn't get skimpy with the soundtrack
in the game either. You'll hear songs from almost every music
genre you can think of, ranging from beautiful operatic vocals,
hip-hop, and even some rock tracks here and there. It's like
listening to the radio while playing a video game and it really
adds yet another realistic twist to the game. You can't talk
about a GTA game without at least mentioning the voice work.
Once again, Rockstar has pulled out all the stops and brought
together a stellar group of voice actors, and they all seem
to pull off the mafia-influenced vocals to near perfection.
You'll honestly feel like you are right smack in the middle
of a Godfather movie. The sound effects are also worth noting,
as everything from the tires screeching to horns honking on
the streets sounds completely authentic. As great as the visuals
in the game are, the music and sound effects manage to eclipse
If there was ever any doubt of the sheer talent and efficiency of
the Rockstar development team, that's been safely put to rest with
the release of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the PSP.
Not only were very few corners cut in the transition from console
system to portable, there are some areas of the game that are actually
even better than their console counterparts. If ever there were a
game to drive home Sony's claims of the PSP being a console experience
in the palm of your hand it's this one. You won't find a better overall
package of visuals, music, and gameplay on a portable system anywhere
else. Whether you like the GTA series or not, you owe it to yourself
to at least give this game a look, if only to appreciate just how
far portable gaming has come over the past couple of years. And if
you're a fan of GTA, your prayers have been answered because you
can now take the GTA experience, in all its glory, with you wherever
you go. What more could you ask for?
Playing Hints and Tips
- Driving a car under extreme circumstances will become a major
part of the missions in the game so don't be afraid to take the cars
out for a spin in order to get a feel for how they handle.
- Take on odd jobs throughout the game, as it's a great way to make
some extra money that will come in handy later on in the game. Everybody
wants to get rich, and Toni's no different.
- If you're ever lost, always remember that everything is marked
on your map for you. The map will soon become your new best friend.
- It's best to avoid angering the cops during your missions as you're
going to have enough to worry about as it is. Save the cop antics
for when you're just playing around.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
3-D visuals have never looked so good
on a portable game system, and you'd be hard pressed to find
an area that wasn't at least close to the console releases
in terms of quality. Liberty City comes alive on the PSP screen
and proves once and for all that you can get the console gaming
experience, even on a portable game system, without having
to sacrifice the game's visual detail. Absolutely outstanding!
Loads of tunes to listen to while playing
the game, you'd be hard pressed to find this much variety in
any other game's soundtrack. Top shelf voice work, and sound
effects that will make you feel like your right there in the
action, all come together to form one of the best sounding
games to ever grace the PSP.
Every gamer, no matter what your taste
is among the different genres, can find something to like in
GTA: LCS. Tons of missions to take on, not to mention the odds
jobs and free-roaming gameplay, there's always something to
do in this game. Even if you just want to steal someone's car
and take it for a nice leisurely spin around the city at night,
the sky's the limit. Add in the multiplayer portions of the
game and you have about as complete a gaming package as your
money can buy for the PSP.
Because the game tends to play out
like a movie, you'll catch yourself wanting to experience
it again even after you've completed the game. There's just
something about it that just makes you want to do it again
and again. It's like a really great movie that you love.
You can seem to watch it over and over and never seem to
get tired of it. The bottom line is, GTA:LCS is the type
of game that will remind you why you love playing video games
in the first place. If only all games could be this good.