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'Liberty City Stories' comes to iOS, but is this GTA upgrade worth your time?

'GTA: Liberty City Stories' is out now for iOS, but is the decade-old port worth your time and money?

Rockstar Games has just gifted players a nice little mobile treat this holiday season as Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was released December 16th for iOS (with Android, etc. getting their ports at a later date). If you’re a mobile gamer of any kind, you’ve got an iPhone 5 or later, and you’ve got $7 to blow, you might be looking at the newly released port and wondering if it’s really worth your time.

Okay, in the interest of maintaining some shred of integrity, you should know that if you’re looking to play a Grand Theft Auto game on your mobile device in the near future and you haven’t gotten to San Andreas yet, do that. Stop reading right now and go download that game knowing your time will be immensely rewarded. N

ow, if you’re one of those people who’s played through Rockstar Games other mobile re-releases (GTA III and GTA: Vice City are floating around the App Store, too, by the way), then the release and apparent upgrade of Liberty City Stories is very pleasant news.

But, is this release something to drop your hard earned bucks on if you’ve tromped through Liberty City dozens of times before?

What Is ‘Liberty City Stories’?

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories screen cap

If you’re not in your mid-twenties or older, it’s entirely possible that you haven’t actually played Liberty City Stories, which was originally released a decade ago for the PSP.

The game follows Toni Cipriani, who’s returning to Liberty City after having spent years abroad, lying low after a murder committed on behalf of mob boss Salvatore Leone. If those names sound familiar to you, it’s because both men handed out jobs to Claude, the player character in Grand Theft Auto III. This time around, Cipriani is the star of the show, romping through a playground that’s essentially a rehash of the GTAIII map with a few subtle cosmetic changes (that doesn’t mean it’s not fun, though!).

The gameplay in Liberty City Stories hews closer to the classic mold of GTA III, meaning you’re going to spend your time alternating between doing errands for criminals and running amok around the open world. There’ll be no property buying, no gang wars, no bikes, no planes, none of that stuff you’ve come to expect in later installments of the series. Remember, it was designed for 2005’s mobile devices.  

So What’s New?

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories screen cap

It’s not our intention to turn you off to Liberty City Stories. It’s setup and execution were simple in 2005, but the game itself is still excellent. It is from Rockstar Games, after all, and calling one of their games bad still implies a pretty high level of quality.

In addition, Rockstar Games has worked hard to get LCS up to modern day standards. According to their website, they’ve implemented, “real-time lighting and shadows, upgraded textures and art, greater draw distance, performance enhancements for touch-based gaming,” etc. The highest quality iPhones and iPads can apparently expect 60 frames per second, too, which is nothing to sneeze at. 

On the support side, the game works with your Rockstar Social Club Account. It also comes with Mfi controller support (so your hands won’t be taking up two-thirds of the screen). This is absolutely the way to go if you’re planning on playing, because touch screen controls are still not at a place where they’re flawless (or really much fun).

What Are Customers Saying?

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories screen cap

So, first with the bad. It should be noted that the top review in the iTunes store claims that while the graphics and sound are “awesome,” the claims of 60 fps on an iPhone 6 is bologna (at least until an update). Other reviews available claim that Rockstar Social Club support is spotty at best. Given the historical reputation of Rockstar Games, though, these kinds of things are both expected on day one and typically remedied fairly quickly.

That claim aside, some newly released gameplay videos tend to be free of stutters and frame rate drops, so take one gamer’s complaint for what you will.

Meanwhile, over on the obligatory reddit thread

Most Apple gamers seem pretty psyched for this one. Between the joyous shouts of “Awesome!” most gamers were mostly concerned with getting Liberty City Stories on their phone as soon as possible. Unless Rockstar Games has changed the content of the game substantially, then there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot they can do to mess up the game (unless those frame rate issues are both real and longterm).

Another comment of note from u/Kyder99 points out that, “this game was made for mobile- the missions are short and sweet so if you have 5-10min, you can actually get things done.” So, if you’re consistently having to cut off a San Andreas mission because your commute is over, then Liberty City Stories may just solve that problem for you.

Things To Know If You’re Diving In

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories screen cap

One of the definite upsides to Liberty City Stories’ age is that there is a solid decade of tips and tricks with which to acquaint yourself. After all, you know that the developers at Rockstar didn’t go back and change a bunch of stuff around just to make a new generation of gamers have to learn everything all over again. 

Anyone who’s ever played a Rockstar Game knows that secrets abound in every one of their titles, so it’s basically impossible to list them all here. Here are just a few things to consider before diving in.

Find Unlockable Vehicles. Throughout Liberty City, there are certain vehicles that possess special attributes. These beauties are everything from damage-proof to tip-proof to simply stunning. Fortunately, gamers have spent hours hunting them up and posting the videos online. All you need to do is find the one you like the most and drive there. 

Explore. In general, the main plot line of Liberty City Stories is pretty captivating. It can be pretty tempting to simply shuffle from mission to mission and let Toni Cipriani’s story unfold. Resist that urge. The city — while maybe not as in-depth as its console counterparts — is still filled with stuff to find. Even better most of that stuff is pretty evident. All it takes is a little hunting.

Just ask. Seriously, folks, the game is old. If you have any questions, the odds are good your answers are waiting on some long lost forum post. If you’re willing to do some Google searching, then there’s no shortage of information you can drum up for this game.

The Verdict

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories screen

If you’re a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, you pretty much can’t go wrong with Liberty City Stories on iOS. While some gamers may get more from entries that are heavier on content, like Vice City and San Andreas, true blue mobile gamers may find a lot to love in LCS’ “built for mobile” mentality.

If you were a big fan of Grand Theft Auto III and you’re looking for a title that will provide some great new missions without a whole bunch of extra fluff, then Liberty City Stories was — and most likely still is — a well-executed entry in the series.

Hey, even if you don’t want to play Liberty City Stories you can drop the seven bones for the chance to get an “I HEART LC” T-shirt for Grand Theft Auto Online. So there’s that incentive …

Published Dec. 18th 2015

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