Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Liberty City Stories - PSP review

4.5 out of 5
£35

For

Graphics, gameplay

Against

Lack of radio stations, controls will hurt your hand by the time you've finished it, maps could have been bigger

GTA might have won numerous accolades, been nominated for our very own Fluffies and sold over 1.5 million copies on the PlayStation 2, but can the success continue on Sony’s new handheld games console the PSP? We lock ourselves in a room for a whole weekend to find out.

The game is set back in gun-toting, pimp-busting, gang-fighting Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto III, albeit a decade later - the city has changed slightly but the road layout is virtually the same.

The game's very adult content, of crime, swearing and killing justifies the 18 BBFC certificate on the box, and any mum or dad unaware of what their 10-year-old son has asked for Christmas should be aware of this.

The streets maybe the same, but that is as far as it goes and the levels and tasks are all new. Unlike previous versions ported to handheld consoles like the Game Boy Advanced, this isn’t just a straight copy of something we’ve seen before.

So what do you get for your buck? For starters, 3D graphics as good as San Andreas on the PlayStation 2. Whether you’re racing a hot ride or gunning down bad guys to win favour with the mafia, the graphics are very impressive.

Likewise the tightly knitted storyline doesn’t let the side down as you complete short mission after mission. Rockstar has said that to recognise the fact most people will be playing it on the commute missions have been designed to not take quite so long as perhaps die hard fans have come to expect. The average is a couple of minutes and this ultimately means the game is certainly more approachable.

As with all the GTA games, the levels aren’t linear devices to perpetuate the storyline and veering off the beaten path can see you take up a diverse range of jobs from taxi driver to vigilante to even a noodle delivery guy with special missions dotted around the game to find and complete in part of the appeal.

GTA San Andreas owners will notice the distinct lack of role playing element. Unlike the PS2 version you can’t spend most of your time in the fried chicken shop getting fat only to then spend the rest of the game trying to burn it off again with plenty of exercise, but you can spend a whole commute dropping people off at the hospital pretending to be an ambulance driver.

Verdict

This is going to be one of those must have games for the PSP for any adult gamer, as it will happily swallow your commute and some more. We especially liked the continuation of the games tried and tested open-ended free roaming formula so popular in other titles in the Grand Theft Auto series.

The catch for us was two small complaints: firstly that city maps weren't bigger and secondly the lack of radio stations available when you're in a vehicle.

Luckily the second can be fixed with a quick visit and then download from Rockstar's website. The subsequent 911Kb application, will allow you to add your own custom soundtracks to the game from a memory card.

As a PSP title GTA Liberty City Stories pushes the boundaries to the limit. The graphics are great, the storyline even better making this a great game. Top Marks.