Everyone knows what’s great about Grand Theft Auto. It is the original free roaming, go anywhere, do anything, crime simulation sandbox. Everyone knows that Liberty City is still the most memorable region from the many that have been created by those architects of crime at Rockstar. It’s still the best-possibly because it was the original, and it holds fond memories of misdemeanors, felonies, and car jacking for millions of gamers who like their action edgy.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is a chance to return to the scene of those old wrongdoings and repeat them, but this time in a game that has been fashioned specifically for a handheld experience. Missions are more bite-sized than before, but no less morally ambivalent, and the game packs just as much devlish satire and sophisticated contrarianism as the original console games. As in Grand Theft Auto III, it gives players the freedom of the city, to do whatever they please, no matter how morally dubious.
It also introduces motorcycles to Liberty City, along with a selection of new side stories and subquests, all played out to the accompaniment of a soundtrack made up from the player’s own collection, thanks to a custom audio feature. Added to the technical achievement of fitting the whole city inside the palm of your hand, it also introduces the series’ first ever multiplayer mode, granting Wi-Fi equipped gamers the debatable pleasures of chasing one another on scooters while wielding chainsaws.
Rockstar’s characteristic brand of nostalgia worked so well, in fact, that Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was eventually ported back to the PS2, and paved the way for a reprise of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, also on the PSP. This title is a slice of video gaming history, an experience that everyone should have at least once.