Cast your minds back to 2005. That was the year YouTube was founded, the iPhone was still a twinkle in Steve Jobs’s eye, and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories launched on Sony’s PSP handheld.
11 years later it’s made the leap to mobile, and has finally launched on Android and iOS for the princely sum of $6.99.
Liberty City Stories brings you back to Rockstar’s version of New York City and reintroduces you to wisecracking Tony Cipriani.
To get in the good books of the crime kingpin Salvatore Leone you have to run around town doing all manner of nefarious tomfoolery. Like stealing cars, blowing up tanks, and, er, delivering pizzas.
A GTA by any other name
Like any GTA game you’ve poured hours into, gameplay is exactly what you’d expect.
You accept and complete missions, which often introduce you to other characters who give you their own missions. The more missions you do, the more the plot of the game is slowly revealed.
However, Liberty City is not designed to be a direct replica of its console cousins. Missions here are deliberately brief and more streamlined to allow for shorter mobile play sessions.
You can still race speedboats and perform elaborate assassinations, but you’ll do it all in a matter of minutes – you speedy Gonzalez.
That’s not to say the whole game will be over in a flash. Completing only the main missions will takes around ten hours, but there’s still days of side quests and collectibles to complete and discover.
But what about the controls? The whole game has been given a lick of virtual control paint, and, well, if you hate virtual controls, Liberty City Stories isn’t going to change your mind.
For instance, you can tap your target to lock on your weapon or fists but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes there’ll be too many enemies standing together… or the whole thing just goes a bit squiffy.
Take matters in your own hands
Thankfully, GTA Liberty Cities does support MFI controllers. In our view, this is the way the game is meant to be played – not dropping all the swear bombs while mashing your touchscreen with your forehead.
All in all though the game looks and plays brilliantly. Rockstar has buffed up the textures with a bit of spit and polish, meaning that even on an iPad’s larger screen they look crisp.
The graphics have the same nostalgic, 2005-esque polygon counts and porting onto mobile hasn’t dulled the flavour of the original.
Just over a decade ago, Liberty City Stories was the first “real” console quality handheld port of a GTA game.
Sure, there’d been toned down, top down, 2D attempts to capture the essence of GTA, but never a full blown 3D replica you could carry around in your pocket.
Today Liberty City Stories is breaking new ground again by bringing that experience to mobile for the first time.
With real time lighting and shadows, 60 FPS gameplay on the latest Apple devices, and cross-platform cloud saves, it’s gently guided the game into 2016.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have some NPCs to bludgeon.