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GTA Liberty City Stories - first official details

Get the full lowdown on Rockstar's portable crime spree

Porting the free-roaming orgy of vehicles and violence that is Grand Theft Auto onto PSP was never going to be an easy task, but then developer Rockstar isn't interested in the simple life.

The latest issue of the UK Official Playstation 2 Magazine has an exclusive first look at GTA: Liberty City Stories, and it's looking just as huge on portable as it does on PS2, Xbox and PC.

As given away by the title, Liberty City Stories is set in the New York-themed metropolis that formed the backdrop for GTA III. The timeframe is approximately three years earlier than the action of GTA III (around 1998 by Rockstar's estimation).

You play Tony Cipriani, an up-and-coming mafia big gun who's just returned to the city. The GTA fanboys amongst you will remember him from GTA III - he was the chubby Tony Soprano-esque mobster operating out of the bistro in St Marks.

While the city remains largely unchanged, Rockstar has altered everything slightly to make it look slightly earlier. Familiar locations will be littered across the city, making exploration feel like a fun return to the past for veterans of the series. Even the motors will look slightly different to reflect the late-90s timeframe.

Most importantly, though, Rockstar is adamant that it has taken no shortcuts in porting the city to PSP - along with all the sub missions, stunts, rampages, hidden packages and other timewasters you know and love. It's huge, and it's all there for the taking.

On the vehicle front Vice City's motorbikes have been added and there's the usual huge array of vehicles to jack as you please, but unfortunately it looks unlikely that you'll be able to take to the skies in helicopters or the infamous Dodo plane.

Those worried about how the PSP's controls would handle the combat system should rest easy. Rockstar has implemented an all-new lock-on and target selection system that the developer reckons is the best yet seen in any GTA game.

Perhaps the only area Rockstar looks to be scaling back in is the music department. While there's no word on licensed tracks yet, lack of storage means you won't get as many tunes as you did in San Andreas. Still, there's always the possibility of custom soundtracks.

But multiplayer through the PSP's wireless link looks to be a hopeless dream. While it hasn't been totally ruled out, Rockstar is confident that getting the single-player mode perfect outweighs the benefits of multiplayer carnage.

You can read much more about Liberty City Stories, see the first exclusive screens, and get a sneak peek at some early missions in the new issue of Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK, which is on sale June 16.

GTA: Liberty City Stories is due to hit PSP in September.