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Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Developer: Rockstar Leeds | Publisher: Rockstar Games
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/24/05 | Genre: Action

Rockstar has made a name for itself ever since Grand Theft Auto III was released on the PlayStation 2. Since that time, two follow-ups to GTA III have been released to massive sales and a lot of controversy. Now entering the handheld arena for the first time with a serious GTA title, Rockstar has released their long-awaited PSP title. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories takes players back to Grand Theft Auto III where players control Toni Cipriani and become the right-hand man to Salvatore Leone in his gang wars. During the course of the adventure, players will encounter a few technical issues. However, overall this is a very worthy title in the GTA series.

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Rockstar went above and beyond during the development of Liberty City Stories by creating a game that looks very good. While it isn't quite as polished and as nice to look at as San Andreas, you will be amazed with what they have done with this first-generation PlayStation Portable title. There are some frame rate issues that plague the title from time to time. Rockstar has been known to push Sony's hardware a bit more than it could reliably handle. But this does not take away from the great animation of the characters, awesome cinematic sequences, and detailed view of Liberty City.

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One of the biggest new features added to GTA: Liberty City Stories is the multiplayer. Rockstar has included support for up to six players in a variety of different gameplay modes. These include capture the flag, king of the hill, deathmatch, free for all, and more. As players progress through the single player campaign, additional characters and locations will be unlocked for use in the multiplayer version. Despite the 'wow' factor of having online play for the first time in the Grand Theft Auto series, the real fun is in the single player campaign.

I was very surprised to see how Rockstar was able to cram so much content on the UMD. All of the cinematic sequences are fully voiced by a great sounding cast. In addition to the audio included in the cinemas, players will also be able to listen to several different radio stations. One feature that was dropped was the ability to import your own MP3 files to Liberty City Stories via your Memory Stick Pro DUO card. Players can use a custom tool to rip your CD's to your saved game. However, it will not work with MP3 files and only on commercial CD's. The lack of a MP3 import tool seems like a big oversight to me though.

Besides the issue with importing your music, there are some really great tracks from the 90's included on the UMD. Of course, the music here isn't quite as memorable as the 80's music from Vice City but it still is amazing to see all the audio content found on this UMD.

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The gameplay is the same formula seen in other GTA titles. This is a little bit disappointing because being forced to always save at your safe house is not friendly for a portable game. Players will also still have to completely start over a mission if they fail. I would have liked to see some sort of quick save feature but fans of this series should be used to how the saved games work.

Liberty City Stories is roughly a 10 to 12 hour game if you play just through every mission without completing any of the optional areas. This is roughly only about 40 percent of the content. If you are the type of player that likes to stick to the story and not run around to try and unlock optional content, you may be sad to learn how short the game is. I highly recommend the optional content because it adds so much more gameplay time.

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Overall, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is the best handheld version of GTA ever. While it doesn't come close the level of excellence found in San Andreas, Liberty City Stories is one of the best games available for the PSP. That is if you are old enough to play it. If this is Rockstar's first attempt at a PSP title, I can't wait to see what they can do with the game once they learn how to use the system's power and learn to conserve the battery life even more than they already have.

By Emily Rutherford - 11/28/05
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
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Screenshots for Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

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