Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Review
Liberty City Stories has its share of minor issues, but it gets enough of the GTA look and feel in there to be an exciting portable game overall.
- Crams all of Liberty City onto a UMD
- Load times are quite manageable
- Good sense of humor from the radio stations
- Captures a lot of the cool stuff from the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Unstable frame rate
- Dull mission design
- Storyline never really goes anywhere
- Occasionally feels more like a GTA III expansion pack than an entirely new game.
Call it Grand Theft Auto Gaiden. While there have been handheld takes on the GTA series in the past, none of them have ever properly captured the things that made the modern installments in the series so popular. Things like the sprawling environments, its fast-action freestyle mayhem, and, of course, the series' great sense of humor just haven't come across on a handheld before. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is not without its problems, either; but it gets enough of the series' signature features in there to do you right.
Liberty City Stories brings you back to Rockstar's fictional take on New York City, first seen this way in 2001's revolutionary GTA III. This time around, the year is 1998, and you play the role of a returning wise guy named Toni Cipriani, who works for Salvatore Leone. Upon your return to town, you get right back to work, because the Leone crime family is about to start getting it from all sides. As you ascend to become Salvatore's right-hand man, you'll start and finish gang wars with other mafia types, a few triads, the yakuza...pretty much all of the usual suspects are present.
If you're familiar with the various mafia presences over the course of the past three GTA games, you'll recognize a few of the names and faces here. But the story stands alone and doesn't require you to remember the various cast members. That's a good thing, because the mafia characters in the other GTA games have been largely forgettable. The game's storyline really isn't up to par with the console installments in the series, because very little actually happens. Even potential plot points, like when Toni finally becomes a made man, are squandered by a bad cutscene that doesn't actually show the ceremony. The game's mission path doesn't deviate into crazy territory, and most of the characters are fairly lifeless. There are no enigmatic weirdos like Truth, the crazy hippie from San Andreas, or Steve Scott, the porno director from Vice City, to break up the heavier-handed mafia tasks. This dulls the game's personality, preventing its characters and events from becoming as memorable as we've come to expect from GTA games and their excellent storylines.
If you stick to the missions and don't mess around too much, you can finish the game's story mode in 10 to 12 hours. But the deceptive game-progress counter will only report around 40-percent completion if you stick close to the missions and don't do much else. The game has some rampage side missions and the standard pizza delivery, vigilante, taxi service, and ambulance missions, too. You can seek out ringing pay phones to get into street races. You can report to car lots to sell cars or motorcycles by test-driving vehicles for prospective consumers. And, of course, there are 100 hidden packages to find. If you get into all this optional stuff, there's a lot more city to see, and plenty of different cars to see it in.
Over the years, the missions in Grand Theft Auto have gotten more complex, but the overall difficulty has lightened up. The missions in Liberty City Stories, however, are extremely simple for the most part. Most of your given tasks are one-dimensional, such as stealing a specific car and driving it back to a location without wrecking it, or taking out a series of gang members and blowing up their prized tank. A few missions get a little deeper, but at some point, the missions just start to all run together because they aren't very interesting. The combat-heavy missions tend to be a little tougher than the driving tasks, because the game's control scheme occasionally gets in the way. The lock-on targeting in GTA games has always been a little squirrelly, but when you add a less-than-optimal target-changing control to that mix (left and right on the D pad, by default), you end up with some frustrating moments. In missions where you're given a large number of targets to take down, you're better off doing it from a distance with a sniper rifle, if possible.
- Player Reviews: 1,034
- Game Universe:
- Grand Theft Auto 2 (PS, PC, DC, GBC),
- Grand Theft Auto III (XBOX, PS2, PC, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto Double Pack (XBOX, PS2),
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969 (PS, PC),
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP, PS2),
- Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, X360, PC),
- Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy (PS2, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2, PSP)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Number of Players: