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Sept. 11, 2005
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
2/12/2005Take TwoRockstar Leeds1-4$89.95

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Hands in the air!
There is little doubt that in the current console generation Grand Theft Auto has become the biggest franchise on the market. It all started with Grand Theft Auto III where we had to re-evaluate the boundaries of what interactive games were like. To say that Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is one of the most anticipated titles on PSP would be an understatement. This game alone has the potential to shift millions of copies, and significantly increase the number of PSP's in homes around the world. This is especially true given that the game is a PSP exclusive.

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Note the small radar/map.
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. In terms of game length the developers are pushing for a game runtime of around 100 hours or so. That alone should put any people considering this an inferior title well and truly in their place.

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Going to the formal Toni?
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.

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Ohhh yar, there's motorbikes...
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.

One concern many, ourselves included, have had with the title being developed for the PSP is the systems increasing noteority for load times. The good news, however, is that apparently the development team at Rockstar Leeds have reduced the loading to only occur at the startup screen, and when moving between each of the three main areas in the game.

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... and plenty of jumps.
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 have managed to use better compression techniques, and slightly lower texture resolutions (which aren't really needed due to the PSP's screen size) to fit the game onto the 1.8GB UMD. One of the most intersting announcements is that the game won't use Renderware to run the graphics engine but rather a new engine built by Rockstar specifically tailored to the PSP's capabilities. Thanks to this engine the game includes realtime reflections and improved particle effects.

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Just cruising around
Music, and the radio stations, have always been a major component of the series and indeed Rockstar are promising a range of music larger then that seen in Grand Theft Auto III although the licensed tracks haven't been announced yet. Apparently if you don't like the music being provided it may even be possible to play your own music off a memory stick although this is to be confirmed still. The voiceovers in the game are also remaining under wraps at this stage.

Get ready ladies and gentlemen. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories has been in development for over two years now and is virtually guaranteed to be a fantastic title. Just how fantastic remains to be seen. While we did expect a release on October 28th, the game has just been pushed back into December due to testing and submission delays apparently (although Europe got their version weeks before Australia!).