Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

excellent
key review info
  • Game: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
  • Platform: PSP
  • Gamepad support: N/a
  • Reviewed on:
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Any immigrant that went to the USA on a boat saw the Statue of Liberty and started wondering about the American dream, the Land of All Opportunities and true democracy. In few words, GTA: Liberty City Stories is the USA of games. There's practically no limit to what you can do, it's a free roaming game, a god game, a shooter, an action game, an adventure game, anything you'd like it to be. Gather all the clich├ęs from the mafia movies you've ever seen and put them in one production. You'll get Liberty City Stories and a serious dose of fun and rampage. Speaking of rampage, perhaps being a gangster is too tough for you and you'll need some cheats to become some sort of Godfather.

Story
Tony Cipriani is the name, killer and mobster is the fame. Liberty City's action takes place three years before the action in GTA 3, that means 1998. You're working for Salvatore Leone, who "owns" New York and you must help him in his task to eliminate any possible adversary. Ascend from the delivery boy to Salvatore's main man and kill a few...hundreds on the way. Battle the Yakuza, the Russians, the police, you might as well battle the aliens if you're there. The Leone family must preserve the supremacy and they must keep it in style. No traces left, no proof for the cops, no one goes behind bars and still the blood is spilled. You'll even witness a cutscene that portrays Tony being promoted in a very classy ceremony. Soon to be cappo di tutti i cappi!

Concept
A free roaming game is not a new concept, but the details make this game unique. Stroll around New York following the standard story mode or begin your own rampage. There are so many things to do that you'll easily forget about the story missions and get lost in the vicious world of Liberty City. The minigames are fun to play as well. Imagine a mobster guy, becoming clean and performing tasks like: pizza delivery, driving an ambulance, a police car or doing vigilante acts. Oh, and I forgot the whole taxi driving minigame. Any customers? This is SureDeath Taxi Inc... There are even races to be completed, motorcycle races or car races. Everything is allowed as you can even shoot out their tires.

Leaving the minigames aside, stick to the story and you'll be done with the game in 10 to 12 hours, but don't get sad, as there's a multiplayer mode to prolong the fun. You'll have a huge map to play on and lots of places to go. There's not much walking to do as everywhere you look there's a vehicle ready to be hijacked. We're talking about boats, trucks, helicopters, vans or motorcycles. Each has its unique features and radio station for that matter. There's no peaceful way of finishing the game, as the gunning will be needed in order to finish missions. You'll get star rankings and climb in the organization, dispatching mobsters from the rival criminal cartels.

Once you enter the vehicle its name will be displayed in the lower right part of the screen and you'll take pride in driving fancy cars or cool bikes. The analog stick will be the means of handling this production and each movement you make. It might be annoying in the beginning, but as time passes you'll get used to it. Are you lost? That was bound to happen, so thank God for the map and the whole menu system. Bring this up by pressing the Start button and you'll see a brief of your mission, the map, controls, sound and video options and more. The same menu shows you the percentage of game and mission already completed, the mission attempts and playtime.

Check out your criminal rating to see how much you've wronged justice. You start with an "upstanding citizen" rank, quite a formal name for a future psycho killer. Driving from one location to another as fast as possible is the main purpose of most of the missions. A new thing, that sets this game apart from the old GTA, it the fact that you can jump from the car, if it catches fire, or just for fun. When dealing with cops, take a good aim and notice the pretty big crosshair with a dot in the middle. You'll be able to use the first person view with some weapons to make things easier. Are you the quiet killer type? Check out the sniper missions or use the weapon for fun whenever you want, not a recommend toy though for close combat. Speaking of which, I was stunned to find out that the game has such a wide variety of weapons, that I even got to use a Katana to do some slicing around. What next? Light sabers and laser guns? There's surely an add-on that has that. Too bad that the aiming system is not that precise. When dealing with multiple targets, you'll automatically take aim towards the closest enemy.

Gameplay
Watch the map and spot the yellow triangle, the indicator of the next checkpoint and mission completion. Step on it and advance through the pretty easy mission system trying to get a high rank in Salvatore's unorthodox organization.

You won't steal the little bucks, you'll go for thousands and more and check out the money meter on the upper right screen from time to time to see the cash rolling. Did you ever see a car in the street and wanted to take her for a spin? Read closely what I said. I was talking about a car and I called it "she". So you might as well call all of those car hijacks...dates. Pick up about 70 or so dates, without their owner's will. Isn't that a cute way of saying grand theft auto? "Gone in 60 seconds" is dead and buried, now cops fear you, as you run around throwing people out of the vehicles and speeding away with the newly bought car. Press the triangle to enter the car. Any comments, dear driver? "Bang!" Excuse me for the mess on your hood, I guess your blood doesn't wash away that easily.

Firearms are a delicate issue in today's society. Even games like GTA were blamed for encouraging street violence and school shootings. Kids with messed up brains shouldn't play this game and we all should realize that is is ONLY a game, a fun one, OK, OK, a violent one, but still fun. As I was saying, you'll go popping everyone with hot lead with the aid of an angry Uzi or maybe you're in the mood for pizza, concrete flavor. Demolish half of New York with the rocket launcher or save the ammo to take down the helicopters that ruin your hair. For the ones that take this game seriously and want to cause the Armageddon, I recommend that Panzerfahrt, a giant black tank that will have quite a few traffic problems in Liberty City.

Video
Everything looks nice in Liberty City Stories, except for the trees and water. Rockstar must have something against Mother Nature, but they seem keen on big cities. New York, New York, what has become of you? All the three islands featured in the game are well drawn, and I'm talking about backgrounds, I mean walls, concrete, traffic lights, the crowd, the skyscrapers and the long bridges. Each car reacts well, deforms perfectly and crashes like it should. I don't quite like the weight concept of the game as you can fall from high above and not get one single scratch. The people tend to look the same, but I wouldn't do Rockstar any justice if I didn't mention the old ladies crossing the street with their huge shopping bags. I stopped my rampage just to watch them cross the street when the light became green. Great pathfinding, poor AI, but who cares when anyone is a potential enemy. The main characters were given a bit more touch than the average citizen on the street and they deserve that.

Tired of the regular outfit? Check out Tony in a nice black suit or the mauve pimp garment, including a feather hat.
I wanted to check out the graphics and physics of the game so I "tuned" my car, the "fist way". I smashed it and noticed the hood opening up, the doors going loose, the glasses breaking and the metal part bending. There is a bit of a camera problem and you'll feel the acute need for a button to change the view sometimes, specially when doing helicopter missions. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the car's back lights shining when I was backing up or braking. What would New York be without a cute, nice autumn rain. It starts all of a sudden, at dusk, the sky becomes gray and everything will get wet and slippery. Great rain effect, great weather effects in general. I might be too much of an observer, but it surprised me to see pieces of paper rolling in the street or on the bridges and that says a lot about the video details in Liberty City Stories.

Sound
Rockstar really made this game incredibly fun by implementing the radio system that we love and we'd never give up. You can download your own mp3-s and drive around listening to church music or God knows what other eccentric combination of tunes. I was left open-mouth by the classical music. All day long, the wise men on TV and those in the newspapers talk about the media that makes you dumb. Imagine a kid (over 18 of course, because of the explicit content) buying this game and listening to Double Clef FM. What will he hear? Pagliacci and Traviata folks, yes, you heard me well. We're going to listen to classical music or maybe we'll change station, but it won't be as cool and things won't seem as cold-blooded.

The psycho guy in the movies always listened to "Ave Maria"! Why shouldn't we do the same? If you're in for a bit of laughs, tune in to the K-Jah and listen to their motto: " You're on K-Jah getting an educatia'" and I have to say that I adore that Jamaican accent. All in all there are about 8 radio stations to listen to, including the ones that have those long discussions between sad couples trying to sort things out. The shooting part is also OK, and by shooting I mean blowing things up, because nowadays we go big, we don't kill people (in games) we blow up entire streets. Cars sound just about right, and you'll be sadistically amused by the people's screams when you run them over. The dialogs are brilliant and once again the cast deserves an A plus.

Multiplayer
Play this game with 5 other guys in 7 multiplayer modes. Choose within a huge array of clothes and characters and find the perfect one to show your friends. The GTA world will be more than enough to satisfy you killing spree, but Rockstar promised new maps for the eager gamers. The GTA fans will recognize the locations and be glad to be reunited in the same line of fire, conquering areas of Liberty city and sharing the clan's influences. There will come a time when all 6 players will interact and hell will break loose. The game flows well, even in multiplayer and "lag" is a word that has nothing in common with this Rockstar production.

Conclusion
The game comes with a poster of Liberty City having on the other side a map of this town of sin and vice. I don't know how the producers managed to squeeze the whole GTA 3 universe in such a small device called UMD. There must be some sort of black magic involved... And what's more, the loading times are not big at all. Here we are gamers, we're enjoying a production where you can pick up prostitutes from the street and crash and flip cars around for points. Gangster, pimp, mobster, Don, king...it's what the people that grew up watching The Godfather will like to become. And please remember...it's only a game!


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story 8
gameplay 9
concept 9
graphics 9
audio 10
multiplayer 9
final rating 9
Editor's review
excellent
 
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