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June 28, 2006
GTA: Liberty City Stories - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
23/6/2006Take TwoRockstar Leeds1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Strike a pose...
If you own a Playstation Portable then chances are you own the brilliant Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest handheld games of all time and certainly met every expectation placed upon it by eager gamers in the months leading up to release. Realising that not everyone has a PSP, Rockstar decided to port the game to the PSP's bigger brother - the Playstation 2, thus giving the game an additional potential audience of well over 100 million users. It must be said that the developers haven't made any drastic changes to the game - as a result we have recycled some of our PSP review, but have noted any differences between the two titles.

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.

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Just cruising around.
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. Through each of these areas you'll find the usual array of stores including clothing, food, weapons, and of course the paint shop to re-spray the car when you're trying to elude people - most often the cops! 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 fans of the series happy.

In terms of handling the Playstation 2 certainly offers a better, and more accurate experience. The Dual Shock 2 controller is much more accurate, and as much as we loved the PSP's control scheme this just feels so much more natural. As with other games in the series the range of vehicles on offer is impressive. Vehicles, which includes everything from cars, to motorbikes, to trucks and busses aren't detailed graphically but each handles differently - some are fast, while others can take more of a beating before exploding. With around 70 different vehicles there's plenty on offer.

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Graphics are, at times, stunning.
Action in GTA: Liberty City Stories mostly takes its ideas from the previous game on PS2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. While being played from a third person perspective the main character can lock-on to the enemies attacking him in order to target them quickly and efficiently and switch targets with the press of the directional button. As expected the range of weapons is large with everything from axes to machine guns, baseball bats to sniper rifles.

Sadly, while the PSP version featured some multi-player styled mini-games this PS2 game lacks any such features - either split screen or online. The company has stated when it does do multi-player on a major console they want to do it right - and that's a point we're not going to argue with them.

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Run from the police chopper!
There really aren't too many issues with the games in terms of the port from the PSP to the PS2. Technically the game has been wonderfully ported - not unexpectedly given the PS2's increased power, however it's nice to see some of the graphics have been improved slightly. We are a little disappointed though that the developers didn't do a 'directors cut' styled game to improve the story or add some extra missions - hell, they did it superbly with their release of Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition Remix a couple of months ago.

GTA: Liberty City Stories was, and still is, one of the best games in terms of graphics on the PSP. This PS2 version is largely the same however the developers have improved the number of cars cruising around the streets, the number of pedestrians and also the draw distance. The city much larger then that seen in Grand Theft Auto III, and around the size of that in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. There is the occasional frame rate drop, especially when speeding around the city in one of the vehicles.

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Nice car...
Fans of previous titles will be pleased to hear that GTA: LCS includes many radio stations including Head Radio, Double Clef FM, K-Jah, Rise FM, Lips 106, Radio Del Mundo, MSX 98, Flashback FM, The Liberty Jam and LCFR. While the speech in these stations is tremendous and often very amusing we didn't find the music selection anywhere near as exciting as that in the three previous PS2 games. The most notable tracks are from bands or singers including DMX, Redman, Sneaker Pimps, Kenny Knots, Vanilla Smoothie and Randy La Fontaine to name a few. Perhaps it's due to the fact that this game is set a bit before our time, or perhaps some compromises were made on the budget and the licensing of the tracks. I was hoping that this game would include a bit more variety, but staying true to their word this is an exact port. Fortunately the music and effects sound a little better through a decent set of speakers then those on the PSP.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was a great title on the PSP, made even more exciting by the fact that there are few other games that come close in terms of size and scale. Unfortunately that isn't the case on Playstation 2 with several other games surpassing this effort in both areas - as well as technical proficiency. Still, this is a very enjoyable title and while there haven't been many changes to the game - we lose multi-player but gain a bit graphically - it's still great value at only $AU49.95. It's hard to ignore this title and we do recommend you add GTA: Liberty City Stories to your PS2 collection if you don't have the PSP version.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSThe PS2 is capable of better, not as groundbreaking as on the PSP.
SOUNDA direct port of the PSP game. Not as much music as previous titles.
GAMEPLAYGTA all the way. Some annoying missions, but overall it's great.
VALUEAround 100 hours gameplay for only $49.95 - great value overall.
OVERALLGTA: Liberty City Stories was an essential purchase on the PSP and while the game doesn't have the same impact on PS2 it is still very enjoyable, and at a budget price. One certainly worth picking up.

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