For better or worse it's basically GTA III
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was a bad idea in 2005, because it gets rid of many of the features the critically acclaimed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had. You can't buy a bribe to get your guns back, the cars are too loose, there's no Helicopters or planes, and there's a distinct lack of weather effects. But if you've never played GTA:SA then I suppose this is a good start, just don't expect the experience to be amazing through and through.
I suppose I should start by saying GTA: LCS is an amazing technical feat on the PSP (at least by the standards of 2005). The enviornments are detailed, the streets are bustling with activity, and you just really feel like you're in a living, breathing city. But the problem is, the frame rate, for the most part, is slow, so there's a price to be payed for the graphics. In addition to that, there are very few weather effects. There are only four weather conditions in GTA: LCS: Sunny (not really), overcast (about 80% of the game is played with this effect, it's basically an excuse for the game's poor draw distance), night time (all blackness, no stars or anything, just blackness and a moon, not dark enough), and night time raining (why are the rain drops black?), none of these effects look very good and bring down the game's mostly good graphics engine.
The game puts you in the shoes of the lifeless and, in the words of Jeff Gerstmann, loyal to a fault Tony Cipriani three years before the events of GTA III. Tony Cipriani is a fairly unlikable and bland character, and so is everybody else in the game. The story never gets any where and basically plays like an expansion pack of GTA III with some of GTA: VC's features added. The mission structure is a lot like GTA III's for better or worse, more than half of the missions play out like this: Get in a car with the person that gave you the mission (don't forget him and don't let him get killed!), drive somewhere, kill some dudes or one specific dude, drive back to your employer's place, more dudes come chasing after you, you get back, and a short cinematic plays. It gets repetative sometimes, and a lot of missions don't actually play out like that, but enough of them play out like that so it's noticable. The game's setting, 1998, is unfortunate and boring, simply because nothing was really going on then, there is the occasional joke about edutainment games and generic kart racing games, but for the most part the game is a painfully unfunny endeavor, to me at least.
I bet you're wondering now "if he hates it so much then why did he give it a 3.5/5?" the answer to that is simply this: because it's fun to just go around causing mayhem! It's fun to do things like drive around on a motorcycle and run over and drive-by people while being chased down by the cops, or see how long you can fend off the cops without dying. One thing I like to do occasionally is get on top of an AI person's car and shoot stuff from on top of it, it's a fast and exciting experience usually. The game's great shooting engine and driving engine makes it fun and satifying to just go around shooting, or blowing up, stuff, even when you're playing one of the game's repetative missions
The soundtrack, for the most part, is a bunch of unfitting radio stations with mostly bad music on them, the rap station is okay, but that's really all I can think of that's good, and I don't even like rap much. The game's sound effects are probably one of the best features of the game, guns sound realistic, machine guns sound meaty, RPGs make loud explosion noises, and flame throwers, well, sound like flame being shot out of a gun. Vehicles effects sound good too, a van sounds like it's chugging along, a sports car sounds weak but fast, and a Harley sounds appropriately gruff and throaty (though they're not called Harleys of course). The sound effects the cars make help make it easy to indicate which car is which, and so do the car models.
The game's cars, for the most part, control very differently, depening on which car you ride, making you feel out of control at times, which, as a result, adds to the game's crazy police chases and gang chases. A van is slow and is really great for making tight turns, a motorcycle is fast and can make slight turns, but the second soon you start making tight turns, you spin out and get a face-plant distance of 25 feet (my record is 50) and a taxi is okay at everything. The cars really help add tactics to the GTA: LCS's mostly mindless missions. So if your mission requires you to go fast and doesn't require much killing, you should drive a sports car, but if you're killing a bunch of people and have people chasing you afterwards you should pick a van.
Overall, if you've never played Grand Theft Auto before, Liberty City Stories is a good start. But you're a GTA veteran and have grown tired of the series, this game won't change your mind. The small price of $19.99 makes the game's problems easier to swallow, but Grand Theft Auto veterans should probably skip this and play GTA IV, which can be found for about $25.00 on eBay used and has far less problems.