Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Reader Review
Sony and Rockstar sitting in a tree...Making M-O-N-E-Y.
Alright, it doesn't scan well, but let's face it - the only way Rockstar are going to stop making shedloads of cash is if they suddenly decide to heed Jack Thompson's advice, and start producing pony and fluffy pink bunny sims.
Glad to report that once again a new Sony machine is graced with the almighty presence of Grand Theft Auto, and that the game shoves the by-now de-rigeur 3D world of GTA firmly in your pocket (if you've got large pockets that can take a PSP, of course, and assuming you're the kind of muppet who doesn't wrap their PSP in silk, shove it into a shock proof container and insist people burn their fingerprints off before touching it).
Enough mucking around, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories returns the player to the familiar streets of the titular metropolis, and casts you as Toni Cipriani, man about town, lothario, gunslinger and sharp suited old school gangster. I'll assume by now that you haven't been living under a rock on Mars for the last 5 years and have at least played one or more of the GTA games, and know the score. Several missions are offered to you and you have the choice of completing these, or generally doing extremely bad things that annoy tabloid journalists, and Richard & Judy. It's up to you, as they say. For me personally, I don't think there are many gaming experiences to rival stealing your first car in this, and fishtailing it down the road with the well honed game soundtrack (which is thankfully still intact on this portable format, amazingly) blaring in your little white headphones.
As a man on a mission you will find yourself doing all sorts of odd jobs for the Leone family, as well as others. These jobs can range from picking someone up and scaring them to death in a limo, to taking out rival gangs, to generally being a Mafia dogsbody biding your time until you can become a made man, and take over (perhaps!)
Once again the game is literally raddled with Rockstar's tongue in ass-cheek humour. See that little red circle on the box with the number 18 in it? Heed it well and do not go buying this for little 12 year old Johnny. Little 12 year old Johnny will undoubtedly brag to his friends who will tell their mums who will write to Trisha who will then pillory Rockstar once more for being the bringers of society's downfall. Perhaps for future Rockstar releases, they could make that 18 certificate symbol a little larger? Or have it analyse your DNA to see if you're really old enough to be playing? Or perhaps just tell parents to stop being so damned lazy and take an active part in their kid's upbringing?
Down off the soapbox and we're back into the game. The PSP not only handles the job of bringing GTA to handhelds more successfully than ever before, it sometimes exceeds the PS2 originals in both graphical flair and sheer playability. Given the complete monkey-handed design of the PSP for people who don't have square hands like me, it's got one of the nicest control systems of any GTA game, even when missing an analogue stick.
There are several games you could use to show off your PSP. Number one on the list has got to be GTA: LCS simply because people will not believe that you can run GTA in 3D on the thing until you show them. Coupled with seemingly endless replay value, the possibility of adding in your own custom soundtracks (though quite why you'd want to is beyond me, Liberty City's radio stations are superb! Take that, EA Trax!), and just the sheer pleasure of mucking around in this portable city-sandbox, and you can see why this has become a title that's selling PSPs like hotcakes. Something I'm sure isn't lost on Sony or Rockstar.
9 / 10