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Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
PSP / PS2 / October 2005
The very idea of portable GTA was enough to get most people wet - the game that almost single-handedly defined PS2, on a near-PS2 spec walkabout. How could it fail? It was, as the Official PSP Guidebook put it, ‘GTA on the crapper’. It’s worth remembering two things at this point: it didn’t fail, and Official PSP quite possibly oversimplified things there. Also, yuck.
Though similarly oversimplified by its detractors as an add-on mission pack for GTA III or - worse - a cynical re-heat, Liberty City Stories was quietly revolutionary in its own right. Yes, it brought technical improvements from further down the series retrospectively to Liberty - half-decent aiming and camera systems, for instance - and it brought more advanced stuff, too. Chief among these were motorcycles (though sadly nothing really new, and still nothing sporty over 600cc) and some great comedy costumes.
But these things clearly aren’t revolutionary, no matter how welcome. What was amazing is that Liberty City itself didn’t need to change - and bar the placement of a few ramps and the opening of a few doors, it didn’t. The fact is, Liberty is a place of such astonishing definition, character and detail that you only need change the start/end point of a mission and the player will see new things, experience new challenges, and face new difficulties anyway. Vast areas of the city never needed to be visited at all in GTA III. Now they did. What other game could offer exactly the same locations and remain fresh?
Yet LCS did more than simply change the start points of GTA III’s events. It added new missions, new characters, new storylines and - holy of holies - a multiplayer mode, the first of GTA’s 3D era. Featuring races, objective-specific battles, deathmatches and more, it was the first (official) party in a truly populated GTA city. Sweet. Liberty City Stories was ported back to PS2 in June 2006.