Everyone knows that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the biggest selling game of recent times. Now, Sony’s PSP handheld is getting an exclusive title from the GTA series all to itself, which is the most highly anticipated title for the handheld. The game sees players returning to Liberty City which will be familiar to anyone who played the first 3D incarnation of GTA and once again, you take control of Toni Cipriani. As can be expected, the map will seem familiar to players of the third instalment, but the main areas of Liberty City (Portland, Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale) have undergone some tweaks: different short cuts, alleys, buildings, and some interiors have been thrown in for good measure too. This alone is an impressive feature as it takes some of the best bits of all three PS2 games, and crams them all onto a UMD. It looks so great our eyes could melt and is even better than Midnight Club 3 on the PSP – the last game Rockstar Leeds were involved in.
Character customisation is not as extensive as in San Andreas, more akin to that seen in Vice City, with certain outfits required for specific missions. Vice City’s boats and motorbikes make the journey too, with “everything from scooters to dirt bikes, right up to choppers”. That’s choppers as in Harleys though, not heli-choppers; the only ones of those you’ll see will be shooting at you, no flyboy stats here, but it’s already mightily impressive, so we’ll happily keep two feet on the ground. Also, with the increased water-based play there will be ferries to travel between each main area, in much the same way as the subway and El-Train work. Some neat graphical touches have been brought in from GTA: San Andreas too, in the form of real-time reflections on cars and wet roads, real-time shadows, and numerous weather types. There’s also quite a high level of detail on buildings too, and an improved draw distance compared to GTAIII - all with a solid framerate. When it comes to the vehicles, there’ll be plenty of returning favourites of course, though being set a few years previous to GTAIII, some models will have minor differences, and there’ll be some entirely new car types too.
The traditional GTA mission and save structure doesn’t entirely fit with the dynamic of a portable machine (save for using the PSP’s sleep function), but there is a leaning toward shorter missions. These will mostly take the form of the telephone missions from GTAIII and Vice City, with telephones liberally spread throughout Liberty City so they’re always in reach for a quick game. Of course, the other usual side missions will make the journey too - taxi, hidden packages, emergency services, insane jumps, etc. - along with some new ones, and there will be longer missions too for when the session allows. Rockstar have hinted toward around 60-70 hours of gameplay and Liberty City Stories could see the sale of PSPs sky-rocket in the coming months.