Liberty City Stories missions were designed with portable game systems in mind. Each mission is very short, normally between four and eight minutes in length. The theory being that players will be on public transportation and will only be able to play in brief spurts. They later found that most players didn’t mind longer missions since they could just pause and put the PSP is stand by mode. As a result Vice City Stories had longer mission design.
Like many early PSP games, Liberty City Stories was marred by lengthy load times.
The manual for the game is the October 30, 1998 edition of The Liberty Tree, the Liberty City based newspaper that is eventually purchased by Donald Love. However, we know that the game begins before this since the Callahan Bridge is expected to be completed in May 1998. Since the manual/newspaper mentions Mayor Hole as a living character then we know the game ends after October 30.
In order to contextualise the lack of motorcycles in GTA III, despite Liberty City Stories taking place prior to that game, there are references to a campaign to have motorcycles banned from Liberty City due to the danger that the pose.
Helicopters were originally going included as vehicles that the player could use. It was removed at some point during the development but they remain in the game’s code and function to some extent. There is one mission in which the player can drive a motorcycle up a set of stair past a mission trigger point and steal a helicopter. If he flies it more than a block or two away then the mission is failed and the player is spawned on the ground. The mod for the game that is available on PSP allows the player to spawn helicopters and fly them freely.
Outfit changes have been a part of the GTA franchise since Vice City. In Liberty City Stories clothes changes are set outfits that can’t be customized. Whenever an outfit is unlocked it is delivered to the players safe houses. When the player enters the outfit icon at his safe house he can scroll through the available outfits. Changing clothes will remove a two star wanted level. Some missions can only be started while wearing certain outfits. Other outfits are jokes, such as the yellow jumpsuit that resembles the outfit worn in Kill Bill or the Elvis Presley impersonators outfit.
Liberty City Stories takes place in the same Liberty City as Grand Theft Auto III and GTA Advance but during the year 1998. The main protagonist is Toni Cipriani. Toni is muscle for the Leone crime family. The Sindacco and Forelli crime families start a war with the Leones. At the same time the Leones are entering a conflict with the Triads in Chinatown. Salvatore Leone is also having problems with unions in the port after he helped organize union strikes so he could get the Columbians access to the docks. Since Liberty City Stories is a prequel to GTAIII the tunnel that runs between each island has yet to be built. The Callahan Bridge is under construction at the beginning of the game and is expected to be completed in May 1998. There is a ferry service which runs between Portland and Staunton Island. The ferry service, tunnel construction, Callahan Bridge construction and subway service are disrupted by the strike.
The mayor isn't helping the labour situation either as he is being controlled by the Forelli family. The strike at the docks and Callahan bridge were ended when Mayor Hole promised that the tunnel and bridge wouldn’t affect ferry worker’s jobs. That promise isn’t met because Mayor Hole is killed, forcing an election. In order to regain control of City Hall, Salvatore and Toni try to get Donald Love elected. Donald is described as "a businessman who will do anything to get into office." Donald loses the election and goes bankrupt as a result. After Donald loses the election Salvatore is arrested. The union strikes end when the newly elected, Forelli controlled mayor takes office. This allows the subways to operate and the lift bridge to Shoreside Vale to function again.
The Yakuza and other gangs take advantage of the Mafia's internal conflict amongst families by gaining a foothold of territory in the city. Toshiko Kasen, the wife of the head of the Liberty City Yakuza, wants to humiliate her husband and his organization before he dies so she enlists the help of Toni. She provides Toni with information about the Yakuza's arms dealing and casino cash transits so that Toni can ambush them. Eventually Toshiko’s husband dies, allowing Asuka and Kenji Kasen to take over the Yakuza.
Donald Love, in his attempts to regain his fortune takes on a business deal with PanLantic Construction in Fort Staunton. This makes him an enemy of the Columbian Cartel so he must flee the city. Salvatore gets out of prison and negotiates a peace deal between himself and the other mafia families and the mayor that leaves Salvatore at the head of the Mafia.
Many of the side mission types from previous GTA games have returned. These include taxi driver, firefighter, vigilante, paramedic and Fast food delivery driver. There is a large number of new side mission types though.
As a way to create employment for ex cons the city has set up the avenging angels organization. These guys walk around the city in their uniforms and are tasked with hunting down criminals; presumably criminals that they met in prison or knew before hand. Tony can join them when he is wearing his uniform. Once the mission starts it is very similar to vigilante missions but with enemies that have less firepower, often only melee weapons. If the angel that is accompanying Toni dies then Toni must find another one to join him before the time expires. Another possible way to handle this is to recruit more than one angel to the group.
Toni can sell cars at the car showroom in Portland and bikes at Hogs’n’Cogs in Staunton Island. There will be four vehicles and four prospective customers each looking for specific features in their vehicle. For example, the customer standing next to the super car is likely going to want a fast vehicle. The way to sell that vehicle is to drive fast without crashing. Sometimes a customer won’t like the paint color or think the car is trashed so you will need to get it fixed at Pay’n’Spray.
There is a kiosk at the airport that allows Toni to be a tour guide. There are 12 tour guide missions in total. The basic mission structure is that the tourist will want to visit a place before his flight leaves. So Toni has to drive them to the location, take a picture of the tourist and the location using the tourists camera and then drive back before the timer runs out.
Slash TV is basically a combat arena. Toni will be locked in the cargo hold of a ship and enemies with chainsaws will enter from three doors in the corners. Toni will have to avoid the chainsaws and kill all the enemies in each wave. After five waves the mission is over and Toni will be awarded with a weapon. In later attempts at the mission the enemies will have twice the health and the reward will be a more powerful weapon. In order to do this mission the player must be wearing the overalls and hockey mask outfit and begin the mission at night.
While it is not a side mission per se since there is no reward, it is something that the player will have to deal with. At some point in the story someone will put a hit out on Toni. Occasionally a couple of heavily armed and armoured hitmen will show up to kill Toni. When Toni kills them he is rewarded with their weapons and armour, so getting attacked is a good thing as long as you can survive. This is pretty early on in the game and the hitmen bring weapons that are otherwise hard to get. About midway through the game the hit is called off and you won’t need to deal with hitmen anymore.
Garbage collection missions involve driving around the island that the mission starts on and driving into dumpsters. Each dumpster adds time to the timer and the timer doesn’t start until you collect the first dumpster. This makes it wise to start at one end of the island and work your way to the other and to choose a starting dumpster that is close to a second one. Once all dumpsters are collected then you must get the garbage truck to the junk yard in Portland to complete the mission.
There is a dirt bike track in Portland near the ferry terminal and Head Radio. There are 10 different routes around the track. Successfully completing time trials on all the tracks will unlock a better dirt bike.
Each island has one bike and one car based street race. They can be found at pay phones throughout the city. You must first complete a bike race main story mission to access them.
Liberty City Stories is the first time that competitive multiplayer is available in a GTA game since the PC version of GTA2. There is no multiplayer in the PS2 version. The PSP version is limited to only AD-HOC mode. This means that you need to be near the other players and each player required their own copy of the game. The game supports up to six players. The multiplayer has various power ups that aren’t available in the single player. They include quad damage, radar invisibility, instant vehicle repair, improved traction, unlimited RPG ammo and regenerating health.
Liberty City Survivor (Gang War or Free for All)
A standard deathmatch and team deathmatch mode. The player or team to reach the kill limit first or with the most kills when time runs out wins.
A checkpoint based street race. There are eight tracks for each island. Players can exit their vehicles and shoot other players or change cars. Killed players are respawned in a new vehicle.
A variant of the traditional attack and defend game mode. The attacking team must destroy four limousines that the other team must defend. Once they are all destroyed the roles reverse. The team that was defending must now destroy the other teams limousines faster than theirs were destroyed.
A capture the flag variant where you have to steal the other teams car and bring it to your base. If a car is unattended or destroyed it will respawn at the base of it’s owner. In order to score a point both cars must be located at the same base.
Tanks for the memories
King of the hill but with tanks. All players start off on foot and there is a vacant tank located on the map. Players must try to occupy the tank. Once in the tank they must try to survive until they reach the target time. If the other players destroy the tank then the player that did the most damage starts in a tank in the next round. The cycle continues until someone reaches the target time.
The Hit List
A turn based survival mode. One player will be marked as the target and they must try to survive for as long as possible. After he dies someone else will be marked as the target and the cycle will continue until each player has been marked and killed. Killing the mark adds time to your survival time and the player with the most time at the end wins. The mark’s vehicle takes damage over time in order to force them on foot and make them vulnerable to the hitmen.
The Wedding List
A number of vehicles have been marked as wanted for delivery. The players must compete to get the cars and deliver them to shipping crates. Only the player in the marked car will know where to deliver the car. Cash is awarded based on the condition of the car upon delivery. Once all cars are delivered the round ends and the player with the most cash wins.
Double Clef FM
DJ: Sergio Boccino
Genre: Classical, Opera
- Il trovatore - "Anvil Chorus"
- Il trovatore - "Tacea la notte placida"
- Nabucco - "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves"
- Così fan tutte - "E amore un ladroncello"
- The Marriage of Figaro - "Overture"
- Pagliacci - "Vesti la giubba"
DJ: Reni Wassulmaier
Genre: Italo Disco
- Giorgio Moroder - "I Wanna Rock You"
- Giorgio Moroder - "E=mc²"
- Giorgio Moroder - "From Here to Eternity"
- Giorgio Moroder - "Chase" (theme from Midnight Express)
- Giorgio Moroder - "First Hand Experience in Second Hand Love"
- Giorgio Moroder - "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone"
DJ: Michael Hunt
Genre: Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary
- Conor & Jay - "Train"
- Cloud Nineteen - "The One For Me"
- Purser - "Take The Pain"
- L. Marie (feat. Raff) - "Free Yourself"
- 15 Ways - "Drive"
- Rous Stow - "Welcome to the Real World"
- Vanilla Smoothie - "Keep Dreaming"
DJ: Natalee Walsh Davis
Genre: Pre-Dancehall, Reggae, Dub
- Selah Collins - "Pick A Sound"
- Errol Berrot - "What A Wonderful Feeling"
- Kenny Knots - "Watch How The People Dancing"
- Richie Davis - "Lean Boot"
- Peter Bouncer - "Ready For The Dancehall Tonight"
- Richie Davis - "You Ha Fe Cool"
- Kenny Knots - "Ring My Number"
- Kenny Knots - "Run Come Call Me"
The Liberty Jam
DJ: DJ Clue
Genre: East Coast hip hop
- Method Man - "All I Need"
- Mobb Deep - "Shook Ones Pt. 2"
- Raekwon - "Incarcerated Scarfaces"
- Noreaga - "N.O.R.E."
- Onyx (feat. Noreaga and Big Pun) - "Shut 'Em Down (Remix)"
- Big Pun (feat. Fat Joe) - "Beware"
- Big Pun & Fat Joe - "Twinz (Deep Cover '98)"
- DMX (feat. Sheek Louch) - "Get At Me Dog"
- DMX (feat. DJ Clue, Jadakiss, Styles P, Drag-On & Eve) - "Ruff Ryders' Anthem (Remix)"
- Redman (feat. Method Man) - "Do What Ya Feel"
- The Lox & Black Rob - "Chain Gang Freestyle"
- The Lox - "Chest2chest Freestyle"
DJs: Cliff Lane, Andee
Genre: Pop music
- Rudy La Fontaine - "Funk in Time"
- Sawaar - "Love is the Feeling"
- Sunshine Shine - "Mine Until Monday"
- Credit Check - "Get Down"
- Cool Timers - "Tonight"
- Nina Barry - "Bassmatic"
- The Jackstars - "Into Something (Come on, Get Down)"
DJs: MC Codebreaker, DJ Timecode
Genre: Drum and Bass & jungle
- Omni Trio - "Renegade Snares"
- Renegade - "Terrorist"
- Foul Play - "Finest Illusion (Legal Mix)"
- Omni Trio - "Living For The Future (FBD Project Remix)"
- DJ Pulse - "Stay Calm (Foul Play Remix)"
- Hyper-On Experience - "Disturbance (Tango Remix)"
- Higher Sense - "Cold Fresh Air"
- Omni Trio - "Living For The Future"
- Omni Trio - "Thru The Vibe (2 on 1 Remix)"
- Deep Blue - "The Helicopter Tune"
- Dead Dred - "Dred Bass"
Radio Del Mundo
DJ: Panjit Gavaskar
Genre: World music, Music of India, Arabic Music
- Ananda Shankar - "Raghupati"
- Asha Bhosle - "Dum Maro Dum"
- Vijaya Anand - "Neeve Nanna (Only You Were Mine)"
- Natacha Atlas - "Kidda"
- Farid El Attrach - "Hebeena Hebeena"
- Ahmed Mneimneh - "Aini Bet Ref"
- Ofra Haza - "Im Nin'Alu"
- Samira Tawfic - "Ballaa Tsoubou Hul Kahwa"
DJ: Boy Sanchez
Genre: House, Garage
- Moloko - "Sing It Back (Boris Musical Mix)"
- Ultra Naté - "Free"
- Happy Clappers - "I Believe"
- Eddie Amador - "House Music"
- Kristine W - "Feel What You Want"
- DeLacy - "Hideaway (Deep Dish Vocal Remix)"
- Sneaker Pimps - "Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's Dark Garage Mix)"
- Jaydee - "Plastic Dreams"
- Ron Trent - "Altered States"
- The Absolute - "There Will Come A Day (Half Tab Dub)"
- Slam - "Positive Education"
- Green Velvet - "Flash"
- Robert Armani - "Circus Bells (Hardfloor Remix)"
- Josh Wink - "Higher State of Conciousness"
Rockstar released a plug-in called Rockstar Custom Tracks which allows you to use your own music on an in-game radio station, similar to Xbox and PC versions.