Although the PSP library is still dominated by tedious sports sims and half-cocked PS2 conversions, the system’s GTA: Liberty City Stories is one of the most spectacular handheld games ever published. And while LCS remains an essential purchase, Rockstar’s latest slice of urban ultra-violence takes the portable franchise to incredible new heights.
While the hooker-shaggin’, police-cappin’, drug-runnin’ action is much the same as before, Vice City Stories has been given a graphical overhaul reminiscent of the visual leap between the PS2’s Vice City and San Andreas, making VCS look as if it’s running on a next generation PSP or some mysterious new handheld. And while the razor-sharp graphics and finely detailed cityscapes are enough to take your breath away, the developers have also worked to improve the draw distance and allow players to see further than ever before, making it easier to appreciate the epic sprawl of the city.
Rockstar has also listened to GTA fans and included a greater number of missions that see you leaping between different modes of transport – sprinting from souped-up sports cars into speedboats, then finishing the mission behind the controls of a helicopter, for example – and the new Godfather-style mode where you build a business empire and run rivals out of town is a welcome addition to the familiar GTA structure.
Reviewed by David McComb