While Justin may be a new face here at GameCritics, after reading his review of Liberty City Stories I have a feeling that he's going to fit in just fine. Frankly speaking, I couldn't agree with him more.
As predicted, I applaud Rockstar's technical department for being able to squeeze a very close approximation of the PlayStation 2 GTA experience into the PSP. However, even though I do recognize it as a technical feat, it's hard for me to get very excited about it. After playing three games in this series and especially after the tour-de-force that was San Andreas, Liberty City Stories just can't stack up.
Although the franchise turned the world on its ear, the free-roaming open-ended design has been copied, recopied, and tweaked so much in recent years by Rockstar and others that it's not enough to deliver more of the same, even if it's on a handheld. Granted, it's not exactly fair to compare this title to the console competition. But, it comes so close technically and delivers practically all of the same gameplay that it's impossible not to. The feeling of "been-there, done-that, seen this three times" just can't be shaken.
Furthermore, Justin's observations about the story are accurate. This by-the-numbers tale of a random goombah means practically nothing, and isn't even a fraction as interesting or motivating as it was rolling with the Grove Street Families.
With a dull plot, flat characters, and the exact same gameplay that I've already been through several times, my eyes kept glazing over and my mind was constantly wandering—not good qualities in any game, let alone a handheld. The fact is that Liberty City Stories feels completely phoned-in and creatively bankrupt.
While it's true that I did hand out my one and only ten to San Andreas, it's safe to say that Liberty City Stories is no San Andreas. Newcomers to GTA might get some mileage out of this UMD, but it'll offer nothing to anyone who's already had their fill of Rockstar's premier franchise. In fact, this game is the perfect example of why porting and one-offing PS2 games to the PSP is a poor strategy. I don't want the same kind of experience that I already get at home, I want to see ideas that take advantage of this new platform. Lukewarm software that rehashes old offerings ain't gonna cut it.