Grand Theft Auto. Three little words that have had a huge impact, both
positively and negatively, on the gaming industry. After taking a trip back in
time in Vice City, and then stopping for some Hot Coffee in San Andreas the
controversial game hit the Playstation Portable so that you could kill hookers
during your lunch break. After seeing how well they converted GTA for a
portable system I was heavily considering picking up a PSP knowing that I’d
probably like at least one game. Lucky for me Rockstar has ported the game to
the PS2 with a budget price, an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
So the series is again on the PS2 and takes you back to where it all started:
Liberty City. But with all of the updates that were present in San Andreas is
Liberty City Stories really a step forward for GTA?
Imagine you’ve done a favor for the mob, but the favor you’ve done puts you
under so much heat you’ve got to leave the city and lay low until it blows over.
Now imagine you come back, maybe expecting praise for the job you’ve done, and
instead you’re treated like the ugly step-child everyone forgot about and have
to work for some underling doing crap work. Add to that problems with your
mother trying to kill you, and issues between your boss and his trophy wife and
you’ve got Anthony (Tony) Caprini.
What a lot of the detractors fail to see about the GTA games is their blend of a
good story that’s mixed with satire and various movie references. Liberty City
Stories continues the trend of having a good storyline that’s helped by an odd
assortment of characters, many of them making cameo appearances from GTA3. But
compared to the previous GTA games Liberty City Stories plot fails in a couple
areas, while some unique characters are present (like Tony’s mom) they’re not as
memorable as some of the offbeat characters from earlier games in the series.
Also, Tony is an okay character but also not as interesting. The silent main
character from GTA3 filled the role of a straight man surrounded by a color cast
of people trying to kill each other, the main character in Vice City had the
drive to move to start his own empire, and CJ from San Andreas kicked ass and
took names. Tony…Tony is pretty much everyone’s bitch. He takes crap from
Salvatore and his wife and his mother and keeps on taking it for far too long.
It becomes hard to be sympathetic for the guy when everyone treats him like a
doormat and he does nothing.
So while Liberty City Stories still carries the sarcastic charm of the previous
games, it still falls short by comparrison.
The best way to compare the graphics is to say they are somewhere in between the
graphics found in Vice City and San Andreas. Which would probably be amazong
for a portable game, but when it’s on the PS2 it’s not so amazing. In fact
sometimes it’s downright ugly. While San Andreas can almost be forgiven for the
sheer size of the game, Liberty City is much, much smaller. The graphics are an
upgrade from GTA3 at least, for example the character models have fingers
instead of glove-like hands. Like most GTA’s there’s a good deal of pop-in and
textures occasionally are slow to load till you’re right next to a building.
There’s a lot of gray and brown all over the place which is appropriate for the
inner city but also comes off as being really dull.
I’m sure the graphics are great on the PSP, but when playing it on the PS2 it’s
hard on the eyes when compared to other recent PS2 games. Everything has sort
of a washed out look as well, though lowering the brightness settings helps this
a little bit.
One thing all of the current gen GTA games have done well with is voice acting.
This game is no different, the voice actors are great despite this title having
no major actors names involved this time. They’re spot on for the characters
and really make the story that much better. The music is spot on as always and
the radio commercials are hilarious. My only complaint with the sound is that
occasionally if one commercial starts and you jump out of the car and into
another, that same commercial will start all ovre from the beginning, but that’s
a minor annoyance. Otherwise all of the vehicles, sound effects, etc are dead
on. No real complaints.
I really gotta know, how in the hell did anyone play this on the PSP with only
one joystick and no L2/R2 buttons? Since I used all three a bunch while
If you’ve ever played GTA you know what to expect. Circle for
punching/shooting, R1 for targeting/handbrake, triangle to steal a car, X to
run/accelerate, square to jump/brake-reverse. Right joystick for the camera,
L2/R2 to quickly switch between targets. Much like the graphics, Liberty City
Stories is trapped somewhere in between Vice City and San Andreas. The
targeting is somewhat similar to GTA:SA with the three green triangles, but
without the option to duck/take cover and often auto-aims to the nearest
pedestrian instead of the guy unloading an uzi into you. So a lot of the
shooting is limited to just standing right out in the open and switching targets
as fast as you can kill someone. Punching is back to just jamming on the circle
button, no blocking or grabbing.
Missions are done in the sandbox style that made the series a big deal in the
first place. Choose from various available open mission located across the
city, or go do one of the several side missions that are available.
Again, what translates well to a portable doesn’t translate well on the PS2.
Missions are ultra simple and can generally be summarized by saying Go Here,
Shoot That, Repeat as desired. This might work for short playing periods like
those on the PSP, but after playing missions in San Andreas that were
practically epic in scale it’s like going from advanced trig to taking basic
math. The beginning training missions will be pretty painful for any GTA fan,
after jumping out of airplanes and blowing up dams in San Andreas, Liberty City
Stories challenges you to drive over there. What’s even more disappointing is a
lot of the missions are just basic re-treads of missions you’ve already done in
GTA3. Drive vehicle to 8-Ball’s place, rig with bomb, detonate. We’ve done it
before in previous GTA games, and in practically every GTA
You know how I said most of the missions were a retread that are pretty easy for
any GTA fan? Well a lot of the frustrations are the same as well. Because of
the targeting system it’s easier to just drive over enemies than risk a shoot
out, which will be Deja Vu to GTA3 fans. There are various other minor
frustrations, a lot of which were mostly fixed in San Andreas pop back up.
So except for when you are fighting with the controls most of the missions are
fairly easy, except a couple which ramp up the difficulty out of nowhere. When
that happens you’ll beat the mission and be thankfull you never have to deal
with that again.
Where every GTA game shines. Beating the game leaves you at only 40% complete.
After that there are a tons of side missions to do, several of which are
connected to either vehicles (Firetruck-you fight fires, etc) or outfits (Hockey
mask/overalls for a chainsaw mini-game). Then there are street races, phone
booth missions, and on and on. Never a lack of things to
It’s basically GTA3 with some minor upgrades found in the other games and
It’s a new GTA game at a budget price. There’s an installed fanbase, and plenty
of advertisement, and it’s released at what is typically a time when big names
games aren’t released.
You’ll always want to see the next part of the story…but there were times I
turned the game off because of frustration towards a couple of the
GTA fans have always been divided into different groups. There are still a lot
of people that love GTA3 more than Vice City and San Andreas, since they either
didn’t get the time period references or prefered the Mafia aspect of GTA3 over
the more urban style of San Andreas. Some people didn’t like how large San
Andreas was and how long it could take to drive from one place to another. For
those people GTA: Liberty City Stories is perfect, it’s essentially an expansion
pack to GTA3. That’s not nessicarily a bad thing, for the budget price it’s
worth it to GTA fans like me who want to visit Liberty City again, but with
motorcycles and a much quicker loading time. Whether that’s good enough for you
is up to you and your wallet.
Appeal Factor: 9
Final Score 6/10