Going Under?

The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been alive and kicking for about 7 years now, it has gained not only fortunate success but a large amount of controversy regarding the activities within the game. The mod 'Hot Coffee' for example, for San Andreas wasn't very helpful in trying to decrease the controversy surrounding the game. So will Rockstar come back stronger and take GTA back to the heights where it truly belongs?

Since the arrival of GTA 3 on the PS2 and PC back in 2001, Rockstar have used an instantly recognizable menu screen that throws you directly into the action, but don't fret. Even if you have never played a Grand Theft Auto game before, you will feel at home straight away as you are easily drawn into the action with a tutorial telling you all the main controls and techniques.

Many people were starting to get bored of GTA after Vice City, especially the protestors demanding it to be taken off the shelves. Rockstar though once again pulled off a surprise, with San Andreas being the main attraction. The game included many new features which added to the overall experience but the real bullet shot was the landscape. The location used for San Andreas was one of the biggest any game had boasted before, which of course made it even more popular in the eyes of gamers which meant more hatred dispatched by the protestors.

The counterpart of this game on PSP had some criticisim for the utilization and efficiency of the analog thumb stick. Of course the PS2 version has fixed this problem with the analog stick now being smooth when driving and moving in 3rd person mode. The PS2 port has also utilized the D-pad, so people who love using the D-pad will rejoice.

Hmmmm, Cleavers

Surely GTA would not be right or successful without the weapons. Like most things in GTA, more powerful objects can only be unlocked as you play through the game and this rule stays the same for weapons unless you resort to cheating. You start off with the most basic natural weapon known to man, the fist. Compared to other weapons in the game, this can still do enough damage to kill someone. As you progress through the game, you will find and unlock new weapons such as baseball bats, cleavers and even a rocket launcher.

There are no set difficulties in the Grand Theft Auto series which gives even the most amateur player the ability to plough their way through the game, although it is likely that some anger management classes may be needed. The classes in some cases will definitely be needed due to the frustration felt at not being able to complete a certain mission.

I remember fondly the first time I played GTA 3 on the PS2. The graphics compared to the predecessor were immense and for once full 3d, it felt like my life was complete (okay exaggeration rant over). The graphics when GTA first hit the PS2 were some of the best that had been witnessed. Five years on, the graphics shown in Liberty City Stories seem tired and nothing special compared to the others on show. Fans of the GTA series should feel right at home though because there are no real radical changes made to the graphics engine. Liberty City Stories does very well in the way it still contains the distinct feel of GTA 3, which does remind you of your very first time in playing the game, there are some small faults with it though.

Automatic Slow-Mo

No-one enjoys slow-down in a game, but it's been a flaw that has been noticeable in nearly every GTA game after the PS1. With expectations being so high, even the smallest of errors are found and slow-down is one of them. This is most common when in the thick of things with cars surrounding you or driving at speed, using these thresholds you can guess it's usually seen during police chases.

At times during the game, you will feel frustrated just due to the immense amount of traffic seen on the roads of Liberty City, especially if you need to get somewhere quick. Finally, some weather effects are implemented into the game but to be honest they do not have much of an effect on the city or even the residents of the city. In the pouring rain everyone just walks around the streets oblivious to it, talk about realism, eh?

Radio Ga-Ga x10

One of the things that really set Grand Theft Auto apart from other games aside from the violent nature of the game was the vast amount of music available to listen to. In this new instalment, Rockstar have just built on top of the foundations with 10 different radio stations available. Each radio station has a different approach to the audience; some have discussions with residents of Liberty City whereas others just have a constant supply of decent music to drive along to.

The interaction with people on the street is worth another shout. Depending on your actions towards them they will come back with a different response. Another mind-set which will change their attitude is their style, for example if they are part of a rival gang etc. All in all this is a nice touch which keeps the game ticking over. Also during the cut-scenes usually before missions, superb voice-overs are used for each character. To me it seems Rockstar have made an exceptional effort to get the right voice for each character as they are all well suited.