5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Big Cities Come In Small UMDs,
This review is from: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories - Platinum Edition (PSP) (Video Game)
GTA: LCS was released on the PSP (PlayStation Portable) in 2005 by Rockstar Games. Set in the New York-influenced Liberty City it's a prequel to Grand Theft Auto 3 which was released on the PS2 in 2001. It's 1998 and Toni Cipriani, an Italian-American tough guy who you did a few missions for in GTA3, has just returned to Liberty City after spending a few years away due to some complicated issues. Liberty City is in turmoil and several gangs are at war, vying to be THE number one gang in "The Worst Place In America." Toni and his boss, Salvatore Leone, must fight, scratch and claw their way to the very top.
This being a PSP game LCS was always gonna have its work cut out in the graphics department (PSP's graphical powers are weaker than PS2's). Fortunately Rockstar did a very good job cramming as much graphical detail as possible onto the little screen. You can make out the text on shop signs; smaller objects such as lamps and chairs in buildings can be seen perfectly; and the characters' mouth movements match up with the dialogue pretty well. The graphics do have some down points. Sometimes walls of buildings will develop detail after initially showing up blurry; and they stutter occasionally, but only occasionally.
The control layout is excellent given the PSP only has two shoulder buttons and one analogue stick. You can move your character by moving the analogue stick around, and when you hold down the L shoulder button the analogue stick controls the camera, allowing you to see the world around Toni. Left and Right on the D-pad switches your weapons whilst on foot, and switches radio stations whilst in a vehicle. These and other controls, such as running (hold down X) and getting in vehicles (triangle), will be picked up very quickly, allowing you to enjoy the experience quicker.
As usual with GTA games there are several radio stations to listen to, ranging from the dance beat tunes on Rise FM to the old-fashioned classical music on Double Cleff FM. The radio has always been a good part of GTA. Sometimes catchy, sometimes amusing, all the time entertaining; and in LCS you're bound to find your favourite station. Mine? Rise FM. Nothing beats some good old 90's dance tunes.
The best thing about GTA games is that the missions never get repetitive, and LCS is no exception. Every mission you undertake you're doing something different. One minute you're taking a car to the junkyard to get crushed, the next you're down at the dockyard shooting workers on strike. But if for any reason you're not enjoying the main missions you can always take a break and try your hand at some of the non-essential but very entertaining side missions. There's taxi driving, street races, hidden packages to find, and loads more.
Any flaws? Well I've already mentioned the slightly-rough-around-the-edges graphics. But there's also the cast of supporting characters, like J.D O'Toole and Vincenzo Cilli. They're OK, but in my opinion they lack the same charisma as the other supporting characters in the other GTA games. There's also the little annoyances of being unable to swim, and the lack of helicopters to fly around the city.
As for multiplayer fans, you can flick the WLAN switch on and invite some friends to play some muliplayer games, including Deathmatch and Checkpoint Race. But in my opinion this game is better suited to solo players; especially those who like to lie in bed and play on their PSP half an hour before lights out.
All in all Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is an amazing achievement on a handheld console. It lacks the polish of other GTA games, but it's still up there with the best PSP games ever.