Review by Nicomicsrule

"Big Game in a tiny disk"

The Grand Theft Auto series, which has become famous for its free-roaming "do what you want" style, makes its debut on the PSP with a game called "Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories" which is in many ways similar to GTA3 for the PS2. Here's what I thought of the game:

Storyline - 7/10

The story in GTA:LCS wasn't fantastic. I've played through the game several times, and each time around I find myself not really becoming too involved in the story. Many times, I'm inclined to just skip through the scene, and play the mission. I can say that there weren't too many memorable moments like there were in the other GTA's where something astounding will be discovered and shock the gamer. Nope... no real twists or cliffhangers. Sometimes you might find yourself playing several missions to make the story progress slightly, as it feels like the already boring storyline can go painstakingly slow. You'll see later though, how other elements make up for this downer.

Gameplay - 9/10

Personally, I found this to be one of the greatest gameplay experiences I have ever had on a handheld. There's so many things to do in this game that you could find yourself playing it for awhile.

There are many missions to be played, some of which are very short, others that are moderately short. I can't remember all too many missions that were very long... except for a few near the end.

This game, like all the other GTA's offers free roaming which becomes one of the most appreciated features of the game. It's wonderful and entertaining as you stumble upon something new every time you play.

The side-missions in the game come in large quantities. Some of the gameplay of these sidemission can be debated as very repetitive... extending to even that some of the side-missions are identical to eachother but with different names. Sometimes, you might also feel that there are too many sidemissions... kind of makes you wish they would have taken some out to make the main storyline longer/better.

Graphics - 10/10

By far, some of the best visuals to hit the PSP, or any handheld for that matter. The city is feels very alive, and it becomes frequently obvious that the game designers paid very close attention to detail. The graphics of this game can be debated as better than GTA3's. Character models are clean, and nice to look at. Cars are fully crafted and very specific. The only problem with the graphics are that sometimes the framerate can drop when a lot is happening, and also there can be some heavy blurring if your PSP is cold.

Controls - 9/10

Many would say that the controls were bad in GTA:LCS... but I didn't find them to be that troublesome. Obviously, the PSP doesn't have a 2nd analouge nub/stick. Without the 2nd nub/stick, it becomes an issue of exactly how you can rotate the camera, among other things. The camera is rotated by holding L and standing in place... and then moving the nub. It works... but because of the inconvience... you'll probably find yourself forgetting that the option is there. The game offers two different modes for driving. One mode makes it impossible to turn left and right while in a view for driveby's, and the other allows you to move the car while viewing the side, but still proves difficult. You can also choose whether you want to move your character with the D-Pad or with the nub/stick.

All in all... despite the criticism... the gameplay isn't stunted by the challenges.

Music/Sound - 8/10

The "natural" audio you hear when you are out and about in Liberty City is very nice. At any given moment you can hear the honking of a horn in the distance, or an overhead plane taking off. Headphones make the game even better; You can almost feel like the sound is in the real world.

The soundtrack of the game, which can be heard on the radio in cars, or from the start screen, varies depending on what your tastes are. There are probably 8+ radio stations to choose from, ranging from pop music to reggae. Like other GTA games, this offers a talk-radio station too, which is somewhat short, but very funny. Most stations cycle through about 8-9 songs each, some of which are nice to listen to, others which could make you vomit. Again, this all depends really on your taste of music... and for me, the music in the game was on the lower part of the spectrum in terms of all the GTA games.

Replay Value - 6/10

Kind of a difficult thing to talk about. Someone who is going to strive for 100% completion is probably going to stick with one game for quite some time. After acheiving 100% percent, there isn't really much initiative to go back, unless you want to play the missions again (which weren't terribly memorable either). It was a good game, but it's too big for its own good when it comes to playing through it again. It'll take some time for you to want to go back.

Conclusion

GTA:LCS is a great game... held back by a few issues that may or may not be the game's fault but rather the system hardware. The gameplay of the game is very good for a handheld, but probably not as good as its console brothers. If you can look past how it isn't as great as the others, but see it as an amazing portable game, then you'll find yourself having a lot of fun with Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

Overall Rating: 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/29/06


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