A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that despite being limited to the small screen of a portable system, this Grand Theft Auto installment features all the violence, sex, drugs, obscenities, and criminal behavior of its console cousins. Parents should not confuse the handheld gaming experience of Nintendo's Gameboy or DS systems with that of the Sony PSP. The PSP has the graphics, sound, and display capabilities to create an immersive experience -- and GTA:LCS puts those capabilities to work for a decidedly adult game.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
GRAND THEFT AUTO: LIBERTY CITY STORIES shifts the series storyline away from the faux-L.A. of San Andreas and back to the site that spawned the series: Liberty City. This PSP-exclusive installment follows Tony Cipriani (a face familiar to anyone who played GTA3 or GTA: Vice City) in his return to the mean streets and ascent to the inner circles of the Leone crime family. Players guide Tony as he completes missions that endear him to the godfather of the family, prove to his mother he's man enough to be loved, and bloodies the streets in pursuit of money and respect.
Is it any good?
Like the last three GTAs, Liberty City Stories is a landmark sandbox video game experience, allowing players to putter at their own pace in an expansive game universe. Every car on the road can be driven -- after yanking its driver out of the front seat by the hair, of course. Every location in the game universe can be explored. It's this flexibility and total immersion that's won the series its acclaim, despite the complaints about its graphic content.
But this impressive, expansive environment is filled with adults-only material. Storylines feature domestic violence, drug smuggling, contract killings, rigged elections, cannibalism, car bombings and police corruption. There is no doubt that GTA:LCS is an impressive feat for the still young PSP. It's too bad that a game of this imagination and production value doesn't exist for the system without the over-the-top explicit content.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why, despite the negative attention, games like GTA keep getting made? How far will video games go in depicting sexual fetishes, extreme violence, and hateful language? Are there standards that should be enforced, or should game developers be able to express their visions in any way they choose? Is playing a game like GTA:LCS on a handheld system different from playing on a console system?
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