An In depth review for Liberty City Stories, on the PSP!
One of the biggest questions on your mind right now is whether or not this is a real Grand Theft Auto game. The answer to that question is a resounding yes, as just about everything you expect from a GTA game has been shrunk down and packed onto a UMD disk. You get the famous living and breathing city, complete with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. You can jack and claim for your own any of the vehicles that you see on the streets from mopeds to ambulances. You get the rampages, secret jumps, races, and hidden packages. And lastly you get the full mission driven mafia storyline. Looks pretty real to me. In Liberty City Stories you are Toni Cipriani, a Mafioso who took a dive to protect his Don, Salvatore Leone. Years have passed and you return to town and are gratefully welcomed back into the family by Leone. As the game opens you are given your first assignment as a mob enforcer and must work your way up to becoming a made man. It's not a very deep or engaging story but rather more of a background excuse for a series of missions, and the missions themselves are pretty much standard, straight forward affairs of the drive this car there or kill those guys variety. It's not that it's a terrible storyline, it's just that you expect a bit more from a GTA game. If you've ever played a GTA game before you'll be right at home in Liberty City Stories. The control layout is virtually identical to that of the PS2 GTA. Control differs on two key points, though. The first is that due to the lack of a right stick on the PSP camera control is a bit tricky. You need to hold down the left trigger and use the nub to swing the camera on the PSP, but the nub is also used for movement and so this is only an adequate solution when things are calm. But the camera thing isn't a big deal, it actually fits in with the mood very well. Under fire it can often be a struggle to get the camera to point where you need it. The camera does swing around on its own eventually, but it takes its time in doing so. Another difference in the control scheme is in the game's targeting system, and in this case the PSP version is superior to its console cousins. Liberty City Stories has a target lock system that you can engage with the right trigger. Once in target lock mode the d-pad can be used to switch between targets. There is also a free aim mode that lets you precisely place your aiming reticule over your target, and if you hold down the left trigger while aiming you'll have finer control over the reticule to allow for even more precision. In terms of gamplay, Liberty City Stories provides more bang for your buck than any other game available on the PSP. In addition to the lengthy storyline, you've got plenty to do striking out on your own and exploring the city.
You'll find races to compete in and rampage challenges that send you on killing sprees. There are 100 hidden packages for you to find. If you jack a taxi, police car, etc, then you'll be able to take on rescue, vigilante, and even benign taxi service and pizza delivery missions. Of course you can also search for the ramps hidden around the city and try to launch yourself into the air in one of the many vehicles that you can steal off of the streets. There's enough gameplay here to keep you busy for weeks, and if you just play the game while you're out and about it could keep your travel time occupied for months or more. As in the console GTA games, there are plenty of cars and motorcycles to steal and drive. While you won't find as many different vehicle types in Liberty City Stories, there's still an amazing variety of vehicles in the game. Each one even handles differently, sports cars drive fast and corner nicely, vans will roll in high speed turns, and trucks struggle to make it up hills. The cars in Liberty City Stories even pick up the trademark GTA radio stations that provide a mix of music and spoofs of commercials and talk radio. Naturally the soundtrack is more limited on the PSP than on the PS2, but it's a treat for gamers to even have the radio stations at all in a portable game. While the gameplay is very conducive to gaming on the go, the game's save system is not. You can only save the game in your safe house and only if you're not involved in a mission at the time. If you're a distance from your safe house, then you'll need to leave yourself time to get back to it and save before you quit playing. Also, the missions often have multiple stages, so you're committing yourself to the time it takes to see a mission through to the end before you can save again. Sure, you can suspend your PSP and it will bring you right back to where you were, but if you need to switch disks or face a battery emergency you may lose some of your gameplay. It seems that every version of GTA released brings something new to the series. In the case of Liberty City Stories the new feature is multiplayer play. Multiplayer games include deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill style games each with a number of options to tweak the rules to your liking. The really cool thing about the multiplayer games is that they take place in free-roaming environments just like the single player game. These environments are a bit too big for two player games, but if you have the game supported maximum of six players the action is a blast. You'll have to get those five other gamers into a room with you, though, because only Ad Hoc mode is supported.
Rockstar has somehow managed to stuff everything that you love about Grand Theft Auto onto a tiny UMD disk. It may have a few quirks, issues, and annoyances, but overall Liberty City Stories provides for a lot of very enjoyable gaming. Suffice it to say that if you're a Grand Theft Auto fan you'll love the game. Even if you're new to GTA, you will probably enjoy it. It is the class of the PSP system and a game that every action fan with a PSP should have in his or her library.