Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Review

A Grand Theft Auto game really doesn’t need an introduction. If you’ve never played a Grand Theft Auto game, then you’ve almost certainly at least heard of Grand Theft Auto. So with the series’ first foray into the PSP world, the question is not what is Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, but is Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories any good? Well, I’m here to answer that question for you…

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.

Toni hits the streets of Liberty City.
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, straightforward 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. 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.