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June 10, 2006
GTA: Liberty City Stories - PS2 Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
23/6/2006RockstarRockstar Leeds1$49.95

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Strike a pose...
There is little doubt that in the current console generation Grand Theft Auto has become the biggest franchise on the market. It all started almost five years ago now in late 2001 when Grand Theft Auto III hit the shelves. It was a game which made us re-evaluate the boundaries of what interactive games could be like. To say that Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was one of the most anticipated titles on PSP would be an understatement, and fortunately the game lived up to every expectation. Now, Rockstar is bringing the title to the Playstation 2 and while there aren't many changes it's still a welcome addition to the PS2's library - and at a budget price too.

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Just cruising around.
GTA: Liberty City Stories takes place three years before Grand Theft Auto III. The game centers on an all new character, Toni Ciprini, who returns to Liberty City after laying low for four years after killing a rival mob boss. Upon returning to the city he meets Don Salvatore Leone where he soon enters a deadly lifestyle battling against the Sindacco Family, the police force and the Mayors office

What must be emphasised is that GTA: Liberty City Stories, while taking place in the same location as the first PS2 title, includes completely new missions, stories, characters and events. The city is split up into three main locations: Portland, Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale. Being set several years prior to Grand Theft Auto III the city looks slightly different with some buildings or bridges not yet built and many other small changes to keep GTA fans happy.

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Graphics are, at times, stunning.
In terms of gameplay, well this will be GTA without a doubt. Gamers can either choose to follow the missions set out in the evolving story or, if you just want to chill out for a while, can just grab a ride and cruise the streets. Combat and action in the title is a mixture of the previous games, but mostly takes its ideas from the most recent game on PS2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The main character can lock-on to the enemies attacking him in order to target them quickly and efficiently. As yet the weapons list isn't fully disclosed, but we can expect all the usual items such as handguns, shotguns, baseball bats, sniper rifle and machine guns will all be available.

Vehicles yet again play a major role. As well as cars Toni can drive cars, motorcycles, trucks, and boats to name a few. As yet there is some question about aeroplanes and helicopters being controllable in the game. If there is one thing missing from this PS2 game however it's the multi-player modes which have been dropped. Apparently the company either wants to do it right, or not at all - which is a good philosophy to us.

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Run from the police chopper!
Graphically GTA: Liberty City Stories looks pretty sharp. With a city much larger then that seen in Grand Theft Auto III, and around the size of that in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City the developers managed to squeeze everything onto the PSP's 1.8GB UMD. Naturally that limit doesn't apply to the PS2, but while the draw distance and number of NPC's has apparently been bumped up a bit the graphics remain largely the same. Time will tell if this reduction in visual quality impacts on the game experience much.

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Nice car...
Audio in the Grand Theft Audio titles are always a highlight and while the PSP title was slightly limited in it's range tracks included are from artists such as DMX, Redman, Sneaker Pimps, Kenny Knots, Vanilla Smoothie and Randy La Fontaine to name a few. It is unlikely that this range will be expanded prior to release on PS2.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was a great title on the PSP (you can read our review here) and it's porting to PSP is also quite welcome. Take Two are aiming for a June 23rd release in Australia - let's just hope the PS2 game doesn't suffer the agonizing delays as the PSP title did.