Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP)
I, like most
other PSP owners, have waited many months for a good game.
There have been promises of quality games, but these have led
to nothing. Death Jr. was called the must have game, until it
was released and showed camera problems that would make the
first 3D games look good in comparison. Untold Legends was
nothing more than a pointless hack-n-slash Gauntlet clone.
Let's face it...this little system that does so much just
didn't play good games, due to no good games being
GTA:LCS, we were promised a change. This little game would
give us the console experience in a nice to-go package. That's
what we were promised, at least.
find it fair to review this game until I had played through
the entire main quest. So, after a month of playing through
about 20 hours of game, I am finally ready to tell you how it
nut-shell, the plot on this game is about as half assed as the
first two GTA games (the 2D GTA games for the PC, that is).
You are Tony Cipriani. If you don't remember him, he was one
of the first few mission givers in GTA3. It is also a few
years before GTA3, in game terms. It seems fitting since the
game handles like something that would be older than
GTA3...but that's for another section of this review.
just returned to town after hiding out after killing a made
man. You are finally welcomed back by Salvatore Leone (another
mission giver from GTA3, and the leader of the Leone mafia
family). He wants your help in taking control of Liberty City.
It seems that a couple of other Mafia families are trying to
take the Leone turf, and Sal thinks you are the man who can
turn things around for him.
never really goes deeper than that. You do make some enemies
along the way, and some extra friends. You meet people who you
have no idea how they would even know to contact you. You even
become a made man. However, in the end, this game just doesn't
deliver a plot. It gives some nice insight into some of the
events of GTA3; where does the construction site on Staunton
Island come from? What about the enigma that is Donald Love?
Did the Triads always own the warehouse near the bridge from
Portland to Staunton? You'll learn this type of stuff.
However, if you want to learn things about the game you are
actually playing...well, you're shit out of luck. The story
will be vague up until the very end...at which time you'll
know what happens just by having played GTA3 before (since
it's obvious Sal and Tony couldn't die or be locked away,
some of the plot even seems to contradict what GTA3 showed.
For example, you learn that Donald Love is one sick f#@$er.
However, these revelations don't fit into how he was shown in
both GTA3 and Vice City.
As for the
controls, which are the biggest changes (since the PSP has one
less analogue stick and two fewer buttons than the PS2
controller), they are pretty amazing. Rockstar took made
effort into letting fewer buttons do the same amount of
things. You will have some options to tweak the controls (such
as using X and Square as your handbrake, or using the L button
as the only button to change camera directions in a car...to
do a drive-by). You also now will use the d-pad to select
weapons while on foot. While many of these changes feel weird
at first, they are the best possible solutions for a system
with too few of buttons. Overall, Rockstar Leeds knew what
they were facing in making a portable version of GTA and they
handled this problem with skill.
this doesn't count against the game since it's Sony's fault,
the analogue nub will be a constant source of frustration. In
a game which requires precise movements (like when sniping),
this nub is not welcome. You will find the game easier to
control with a replacement analogue nub ($5 item at EB/Gamestop
for a pack of three) that makes it feel more like a PS2
analogue stick. However, through the entire game, you will
find Tony walking in diagonal lines and cars steering just a
little beyond where you want them to go. So, while this is not
a problem for Rockstar, this is a problem for Sony and for all
As for the
game itself...well, it plays just like any other GTA
game...well, any other GTA before GTA:SA. You can't swim or
climb objects, but you have all of the other controls. You can
freely walk and run around the city. You can jack almost any
vehicle and drive wherever you want, and this includes jacking
motorcycles. You also are able to find countless weapons
(well, about 20-30 weapons) to fill a limited inventory of
about 8 or so weapon slots. This means, like with Vice City
and San Andreas, you will chose what pistol, SMG, assault
rifle, heavy weapon, melee weapon, shot gun, and so forth that
you are holding. However, unlike GTA:VC, you don't need to
fear a rampage, since you will still be holding a weapon after
the melee has ended.
in the past GTA games, you progress through the plot and
unlock new areas by passing missions. These come in two
flavors; side and story. A side mission will just add to the
percentage of the game you've finished and will give Tony a
little more spending cash. The story mission, however, will do
all of that and progress the game. The missions, like in past
GTA games, will test all of your skills. However, unlike GTA3,
VC, and SA, GTA:LCS will not test them with any more
excitement than a school exam.
will, until the very end, play out in one of a few basic
flavors. A driving mission will find you driving to point A
and then to point B. A point C may show up...but that's only
on the more exciting driving missions. A shootout mission will
find you going to a location and shoot everyone that
moves...that's it. Last of all are the combination missions.
In these, you drive a bit, shoot some people, and then drive
away as fast as possible (maybe while being chased). That's it
for missions. They are bland, pointless, and way too short.
For those who argue that a portable game should have short
missions since it's a system meant to be played in short
periods, I simply point out that if you pause the game and put
the PSP in sleep mode, you are effectively saving your
game...even mid-mission. Also, the longest missions you
encounter, until the last hour of the game, are between 15
seconds and 5 minutes long. Also, if you doubt 15 seconds, I
am not being sarcastic...one mission lasted for under 15
that a game with such a lame plot and a half-assed game play
system has the most wondrous visuals you will ever see on a
PSP. The visuals are nothing short of what the PS2 put out in
GTA3 and Vice City. In fact, some parts of this game look
better than Vice City ever did.
look shiny and new, until you crash them (then they look like
they've been put through hell). The explosions look like the
explosions of GTA3, but a little more smoke filled. People
look far more detailed than they did in GTA3. In short,
everything about this game looks better than GTA3. Plus, when
you see it on the sharp and crisp PSP widescreen...damn! If
only the analogue nub was better and the rest of this game
didn't suck, I could've played it, just for the visuals, for
hours on end.
This is the
other part of GTA3 that didn't piss me off. The music
selection of GTA:LCS uses the same general radio stations as
GTA3 (same city, so it's only natural), with the same unique
blend of unknown bands that really fit the mood of the city.
Plus, if you want to use a hell of an annoying process, you
can download a custom music program from Rockstar. This will
let you add music, from a real CD, via the PC and the USB
connection of the PSP, to make custom soundtracks. Overall,
this selection of custom and built-in soundtracks makes the
game a little more enjoyable. However, it would've been better
if the game just read MP3s already on the PSP memory stick
instead of requiring two copies of a single song if you want
to both listen in GTA and on the PSP menu.
voice acting is pretty good, considering the actors are all a
bunch of no name people. They may not have the elegance of
Samuel L. Jackson as officer Tennpenny, but they do pull off
the roles they play with plenty of flair and skill. This is
definitely the best voice acting in the PSP, and some of the
best on any console game. However, you will need to use
subtitles, headphones, or crank the volume to max if you want
to understand what they say over the puny PSP speakers. Once
again, a Sony flaw, and not something that will effect my
Last of all,
there are the sound effects. I could try and be descriptive,
but I'll just say it with two short phrases; "as good as
any other GTA on the PS2" and "DAMN!". They are
that good. Even with the puny speakers of the PSP, the sound
effects always pack a nice punch.
So, in the
end, I can only say a few things. First of all, and this
should've been said more in April, but the PSP sucks for
games. Between the analogue nub that responds as well as a
crack-addicted 2 year old and the weak speakers (and they
could've been better...just look at the DS), games will always
have an uphill battle on the PSP.
for GTA:LCS, this is the most wonderful eye-candy and
ear-candy you will find that can travel with you. The visuals
redefine what one would think possible on a portable system.
However, the plot and the game play both have too many flaws
to ignore. Even with a weak plot, there is enough substance to
forgive and forget. However, when the missions come down to
pointless exercising on one or two skills (drive, shoot, run,
buy a gun, pickup a person, drive faster...), it's harder to
forgive. The missions just fail to fulfill a gamer in the way
that the missions on even GTA3 (which was never too involved)
did. It won't be until the final half dozen missions that this
will change, and by then you may have already sold this game
off. So, in the end, I
am stuck with giving GTA:LCS a pathetic 6.5/10
(I give the PSP a 4.5/10 for being able to run console-style
games). It will entertain you for the first two hours, but
then you're on your own. It's always hard to give a game from
your favorite franchise such a score...but I had to do it. Let
the fanboy flames begin!