Take-Two and Rockstar Games weren't very welcoming at this year's E3, but we managed to gain access into their fenced-in booth to take a look at a couple upcoming games, one of which was a very early version of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PSP.
They wouldn't let us take any photographs sadly, but we can tell you that the game is shaping up to be very similar to the original PS2 version of Grand Theft Auto and also very different. Liberty City is once again the home setting, but the main character, story, and missions have changed. Likewise, while the map and many of the locations are similar to those in the old PS2 game, there are many new areas and neighborhoods to visit.
Liberty City Stories takes place in 1998, roughly three years before the events in the original GTA3. The main character this time around is Tony Cipriani, which you may remember as the powerful mob boss in GTA3. In this game, he's just starting out as a low-level mafioso. The player's role will be to help Cipriani rise from the streets to become one of Liberty City's most feared dons.
From what we were shown, the graphics and audio are on the same level as they were in the PS2 game. The streets and sidewalks still had plenty of civvies to rough up and cars to hijack. The frame-rate was all over the place, though… at times silky smooth and at times choppy. They'll probably iron that out soon enough. One thing that was clear is that the new locations and environments are being designed with the PSP's memory capacity and graphical capabilities in mind. We saw some gorgeous cross-streets and a lush park, but both areas were cleverly put together so as to not show too much in the far-off distance. Hey, if the PSP can handle the game and the battery life isn't 2 hours, we can handle that.
Otherwise, fans of the franchise can expect more of what they love–the presenters were hijacking cars, shooting at people, and taking on side-missions with reckless abandon.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PSP will ship sometime later this year (that's the plan, anyway).