Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Most of the voice actors aren't marquee names, but they do great work just the same. And although the GTA series has never relied upon visuals to sell itself, this looks notably better than ourfirst tripto Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III. There are subtle improvements over the PSP imagery as well- a nicer texture here, a more detailed building or tree there. Plus,the PS2 version not only isn't cursed with motion blur but also gives you the chance to move the pesky camera with the right stick. Those are small differences, but they yield huge improvements.

The only real sacrifice here is that the PSP version's multiplayer bits have been stripped out for the PS2 release. Rockstar explained to us that this was because the company wants GTA's console online debut to be something much bigger and better than the small-scale offerings from LCS on PSP. (No further details on when that might happen were forthcoming, unfortunately - dammit.)

For those who've not yet played it, LCS is the story of Toni Cipriani, a budding mobster who's been laying low in another country for a few years after putting a hit on an enemy of the Leone crime family. You take control of Toni on his return, a few years before the events of Grand Theft Auto III. If Toni's name sounds familiar, it should - he's one of the bosses who gives jobs to Claude, the mute main character in GTA III. Other pre-turning GTA III characters you'll meet over the game's full-sized length include Salvatore Leone and Donald Love - so this is obviously a real GTA game, not a half-assed side story. It's just that this one is possibly the best game ever to debut on PS2 at $20. You can pick it up next week; until then, click the Movies tab above and watch the tough-talkin' trailer.