Liberty City Stories doesn't fare too badly on Playstation 2 granted you see it more as an expansion than anything else

User Rating: 7 | Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories PS2
Welcome back to Liberty City, the worst place in America. You might remember that in 2005, PSP owners finally had the ability to play GTA wherever they liked thanks to GTA Liberty City Stories. LC Stories was an entirely new game in the series that had you play as Toni Cipriani who has had returned after serving Don Salvatore Leone a favour. As a prequel to GTA 3, you perform numerous missions to new and old GTA characters alike, leading to the eventual build up of GTA 3 itself and how everything came to be by that point. There were a few drawbacks to Liberty City Stories on PSP but all in all it managed to deliver close to the same experience gamers had with GTA 3 on PS2 four years earlier.Now a year following it's PSP release, we see that Liberty City Stories has graced the Playstation 2 but not as different or improved upon as of hoped.

As far as the game goes much of the design and layout in Liberty City Stories is the same as it were in GTA 3. The three islands Portland, Stauton and Shoreside Vale are back and you'll find your regular Ammunation, Spay 'n Pay and 8Ball's Bomb Shop in their usual places. But there are now bikes to ride (finally!) and a whole bunch of new guns to obtain too like the minigun, Chainsaw, Katana and Magnum. The save locations are also different from the old GTA we know and are designed in a fashion similar to Vice City and San Andreas in which they can be interacted with to hold items and change your clothes.

As you start, you'll notice that is once again impossible to move between the islands and basically you have to play out LC Stories many missions in order to progress toward moving to each one. By doing missions also you earn cash, new costumes and items and occasionally even a car or two to stick in your garage. The missions tend to have you pursuing and assassinating targets or stealing key intel or weapons from an opposing gang. However there is also the occasional mission such as causing as much havoc as possible with a fire-truck that divert from this formula.

Thankfully though, the main missions tend to be varied in that you'll find yourself re-trying them several times with different approaches and tactics which is a relief. There are also your side-missons such as the usual Taxi and Police Car jobs, inspired by Crazy Taxi and Chase HQ respectively and the race missions which can be accessed via random pay phones. They're nothing out of the ordinary for the series, but still entertaining regardless.

Outside of the missions you really have the freedom to do what the hell you want, which is the staple of GTA really. Want to kill that old homeless guy with a katana? Go right ahead. Want to steal a cop car? Consider it done. Want to cause so much chaos that the military will hunt you down? You know it's possible ;-)

Of course, it sucks that there is the lack of the stats system from San Andreas, as well the gang turf system which makes it feel a little odd when you have your mafia fighting another on some of the missions. And once you've actually discovered all of Liberty City it doesn't feel that big any longer, which especially applies to any of the GTA 3 veterans who've previously played in the same city. While they're minor losses with LC Stories, especially considering it's budget value of £15, the glitches are not.

You'll be seeing cars tilt on sides, glitch through walls and get stuck at times during the game. It is despicable and the largest problem with GTA 3 to begin with so time certainly shouldn't of been an issue for Rockstar when fixing up the problems with the game before release. Also the camera can be an annoyance as it moves on it's own and you'll often find yourself wrestling against it with the right analogue stick when trying to aim at a target.

The controls are much the same in LC Stories as with any GTA games on PS2. LC Stories however does have some odd controls despite this, such as manual aim being set to R1 + L3, which feels uncomfortable and inefficient. It is once again impossible to crouch too which can be a bother during a fire-fight. The graphics also haven't been improved upon much either with low poly characters and low resolution textures featured throughout Liberty City Stories. The framerate stutters occasionally as well which is off-putting when the game looks so sub-par on PS2.

The radio stations featured also aren't too impressive either as LC Stories features few licenced tracks in comparison to the many number of them on San Andreas. The voice acting is a mixed bag too as many of the old characters voices have been replaced by sound-a-likes which aren't too great, yet the majority of voice actors in the game do a solid job.

LC Stories is a moderately long release, despite being originally intended as a portable GTA title. The main story will take at least a couple of weeks to play with a couple of hours of play each day which isn't bad considering the game's cost and content on the whole.

So there you have it. GTA Liberty City Stories is a welcome re-issue of a great PSP release that doesn't fare too badly on Playstation 2 either, granted you see it as an expansion rather than a new entry into the series of course.