A hi res version of the PSP classic, but is it good enough to keep us going until GTA4?
Ok first off I love all Grand Theft Auto games. I have played them since GTA 1 and had every version since, even the Gameboy advance version (and that was pants!).
BUT? I am rubbish at them since they became 3D. Don’t get me wrong, they are still amazing, but I just suck at them. I get to a mission I find hard then stop playing. I did it with GTAIII I did it with Vice City, San Andreas (damn sponge suspension on those low riders) and even Liberty City Stories!
This is an updated version of the PSP game of the same name. Therefore the bulk of this review is the PSP review. If you have read that, just scroll down to the end for my overall opinion!
The game follows Vic Vance, Lance Vance’s brother form San Andreas. The game starts in the 80s, with you just starting a career in the Army and as is the way that’s where it all starts to go wrong. Jerry Martinez, your insane commanding officer has a job for you. As a poor soldier, trying to earn money for his family you accept. Of course this was the wrong choice and after a couple more little ‘jobs’ for Jerry, you find yourself kicked out of the Army and on Jerry’s pay roll properly.
Well that sets the scene. The game its self plays pretty much like any other GTA game, but slightly better. The controls feel a bit tighter, the cars move better. It just feels a bit nicer than before. One major control change comes in the form of a new fighting ability, a throw. It sounds like nothing, but it makes fighting multiple assailants a lot easier! Being on foot is one thing, but driving is where the fun is. The cars drive like a dream, floating round corners and flipping at the slightest bump. The bikes are more fun than should be legal. Dotted around you will find ramps. Drive at them, please!! Hit a ramp at enough speed and the whole thing slows down to ‘bullet time’. If you hit it right you will get an insane stunt bonus. Try it whilst on fire!
You can also enter the water now and even pilot boats!
Another overall improvement is the way the story plays out. You are watching the complete breakdown of a man’s moral boundaries, but you feel for him and understand his reasons all the way down the slippery slope from thug to true mobster.
The graphics are lush, with Miami Vice style pastels and golden sunsets and red skies. The animation is fluid, the cars move the way cars should and the bikes look great!
On the PSP the city seemed HUGE, on the PS2, however, after playing the likes of San Andreas, it seems a little cramped.
As for sounds, there is the usual array of big name sound track contributors, from Human League to Judas Priest. The story is moved along with a brilliantly written and voice acted script, with the usual foul mouthed, sex obsessed writing we have come to expect from GTA.
The gameplay should be familiar to you by now. Get a mission, drive stuff, kill stuff and steal stuff, return to mission giver, get money. The missions are varied, from getting drugs out of a warehouse with a fork lift, to collecting protection money in shops, to killing the local gangs.
Where it differs from Liberty City Stories is that you now have the ability to start turf wars, a bit like in San Andreas. You can take over a gangs businesses by killing the gang members in it. Once taken you can upgrade the business and run missions based on the business. There are several types business available for example prostitution. This all adds an extra dimension to the usual mission types and gives the game a bit more depth.
There are also a number of multiplayer modes available. I have not played any of these so it would be unfair for me to review them. As soon as I do you will all be the first to know.
All in all this is a fantastic game, possible the best in the GTA franchise. The missions are more fleshed out than in Liberty City stories, but not as long winded as San Andreas, just right for portable play. The story is entertaining and atmospheric. The game always looks and feels just right.
It is just a good, fun game that keeps you coming back time and time again.
Is it good enough to keep us happy until GTA 4? Well it will have to be! It is a shame that the multiplayer has been removed and a new game would have been nicer. It is quite a step away from San Andreas, not as big or as involving, but if you don’t have it on the PSP it is well worth it!
The Bad: Pretty much the same as the PSP version, with multiplayer removed!
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