Game Review: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (iOS)

Release Date: October, 2005 (Initial)

RatingM (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs)

1998 was the year when the criminal underworld of Liberty City would be changed forever thanks to the return of the prodigal son, Toni Cipriani. It was a defining moment in the 3D-era story arch, and gamers could now return to the city that introduced them to a life of crime with Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the iPhone.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is no stranger to mobile gamers as the original was released back in 2005 for the PlayStation Portable. Yet its arrival adds verity to a platform dominated by unique puzzle games, arcade ports, and freemuims that are an embarrassment to gaming. While casual gamers are consistently blowing their money to progress in some freemuim title, more dedicated and experienced gamers could enjoy this overlooked classic any time they want.

The story is set before the events of Grand Theft Auto III as the Leone Family are fighting both the Sindacco and Forelli’s for control of the city. Everything changes when Toni Cipriani returns from exile to once again serve Salvatore Leone. However it’s not the welcome he anticipated as he must once again start from the bottom and work his way up. Not helping his cause is the Leone Family being threatened by internal conflicts while Toni must also struggle to earn the respect of his mother.

It’s the classic crime story that fans love with The Sopranos and the works of Martin Scorsese being an obvious inspiration. At the same time it feels like a retelling of Grand Theft Auto III only with real character development as players witness the transformation of Cipriani as he grows to become one of the most notable leaders in the Leone Family.

For gamers who grew up playing the Grand Theft Auto series on the PlayStation 2, Liberty City Stories will feel like a crime spree down memory lane. Old school gamers will feel right at home as they return to the original Liberty City and interact with the characters they fell in love with back in 2001.

In regards to its gamplay mechanisms, it has the classic setup used in GTAIII along with features that were introduced in Vice City. Unique to the iPhone version is an auto-save feature that makes it more convenient for players to pick up where they left off. Add the sharper graphics that neither the PSP nor PS2 version had, and it makes the iPhone version superior overall.

However it’s far from perfect as it, too, has a few minor flaws with the most obvious being that the controls are a slightly difficult to use. Unfortunately this has been a problem that has plagued every version of Grand Theft Auto for the iPhone, hence most gamers will most likely be used to it by now.

Another issue is that Michael Madsen did not return for the role of Toni Cipriani, but this is something that can be easily overlooked if one feels that Danny Mastrogiorgio did an excellent job.

Despite its minor flaws, this is a good game to have for gamers who either have been looking for a good game for their iPhone, or need to kill time on their commute because they are not dumb enough to find Candy Crush challenging.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is not only a nostalgic crime spree but the games return to the mobile platform. Gamers who miss the good old days of the Sixth Generation console era will enjoy the return to Liberty City in the role of a familiar character.

Rating: 9/10

Written for The Indiependent
12/30/2015
Original Article: Game Review: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (iOS)

5 Games That Failed But Earned A Second Chance

The path to success is always met with a series of failures, and the gaming world is no exception. Not every game series started with a major hit, as several iconic titles had a rocky start.

The following are examples of five major games that failed at first but the creators worked to learn from their mistakes.

5. Driver 

The series started as an icon during the days of the PlayStation but became a joke when Driv3r failed to redefine the genre. A follow-up, Driver: Parallel Lines, was also met with modest reviews by critics and failed to reignite gamers’ interest. By the time gaming entered the Seventh Generation, the series was almost forgotten.

After Ubisoft acquired the rights to the series, they aimed to redeem it for the fans. Driver: San Francisco abandoned the GTA-style elements and returned the series to its roots while introducing new gameplay content. This paid off, as Driver: San Francisco was highly praised by critics and became a hit among gamers.

4. Just Cause

This was one of those games that had a good concept but terrible execution. Just Cause has Rico Rodriguez working to overthrow a South American dictator by waging a guerrilla war alongside rebel factions.

However, its clunky function along with poor control setup earned it mediocre reviews from critics and gamers. It also failed to standout from games like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

All the game needed was a little polishing, and it paid off with an iconic sequel. Just Cause 2 kept the premise of the original, but had smoother controls and gave players a more reliable gaming experience.

Gamers fell in love with Just Cause 2 so much that a group of dedicated fans created a multiplayer function that received the blessing of the game’s developers. Meanwhile, Just Cause 3 is in the works and is set to be released sometime in 2015.

3. Hitman

Mr. 47’s introduction to the gaming community didn’t go as Eidos and IO Interactive planned. Despite its unique premise, Hitman: Codename 47 suffered from poor controls and clunky gameplay. Critics were not impressed, but it did develop a small cult following.

One thing gamers had to admire about Eidos was their ability to learn from their mistakes and apply that knowledge to sequels. Hitman 2: Silent Assassins fixed the clunky gameplay and presented a polished second chance for Mr. 47.

The sequel was highly praised by critics and fans. Its success was followed by Hitman: Contracts, a retelling of the first game by recreating several of the original missions.

2. Killzone

The series has become staple for PlayStation gamers, but many forget the game failed to be a classic when it was first released. The original game for the PS2, a fast-paced action shooter set in a futuristic conflict zone, was marketed as Sony’s grittier rival to the Halo series.

However, the game was met with mediocre reviews and was mocked by gamers for failing to live up to the hype. This could have been the end of the Second Extrasolar War.

The series earned a little redemption thanks to Killzone: Liberation for the PSP. But more needed to be done save the series. Lessons were learned in time for the Seventh Generation consoles, and the result was Killzone 2.

The sequel was a hit among gamers and was praised by critics as one of the best shooters for the PS3. Its follow-up, Killzone 3 improved an already successful setup and avoided being branded as a Call of Duty knockoff.

1. Grand Theft Auto

A game series doesn’t become a cultural landmark without going through some trial and error. The series started as an innocent racing game titled Race’n’Chase, before a glitch convinced DMA to create what is known as Grand Theft Auto.

The game was a success on the PC, but failed to gain the attention of console gamers and received mediocre ratings. Grand Theft Auto 2 did no better. This would have been the end of the series unless real changes were made.

Grand Theft Auto III took the concept of its predecessors and incorporated it into a 3D environment. The result transformed the video game world, moving it from being a niche culture toward becoming part of popular culture.

Its success was followed with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City  along with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which broke its predecessors’ records and raised the bar for the gaming industry. At the same time, the concept of open world-gaming became of the most popular genres.

The legacy of the series has not ended, as the 2013 release of Grand Theft Auto V sold over $1 billion in three days, making it the fastest-selling title of all time. The PS4 and Xbox One ports were released in late 2014, but gamers are still anticipating the PC version.

The moral of the story is that everyone will fail, but a successful person or company can and will learn from their mistakes.

Written for GameSkinny
1/4/2015
Original Article: 5 Games That Failed But Earned A Second Chance

Op-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

Sexual violence is an ugly aspect of our society that has a lasting impact on the victims. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed in society and taken seriously by the criminal justice system.

Alleging one of the greatest cultural works encourages sexual violence and then strong-arming retailers with guilt isn’t one way to bring better awareness. Unfortunately a victim of domestic violence (going by the pseudonym of Nicole) chose to take this path by circulating a petition that slandered Grand Theft Auto V than bullied Kmart and Target Australia to remove it from their shelves.

It’s important to know that at no point in Grand Theft Auto V are players asked or required to participate in acts of sexual violence. There are also no moments in the game that features the player perpetrating such a criminal act on a female non-playable character (NPC).

The petition that circulated on Change.org claimed that Grand Theft Auto Vencourages and rewards players for sexually assaulting women. Her only evidence is a YouTube video that demonstrates a players encounter with a prostitute, a trivial feature that has been available since Grand Theft Auto III.

This is has not been the first time the game has been denounced for allowing players to have interactions with prostitutes. However most critics who have denounced the content have been taken seriously in resent years. This is due to a story influenced by Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society. Bickering over an insignificant content to the game gives the impression that they are too stupid to understand its literary content.

Unlike the few irrelevant critics, this petition has fooled 40,000 users and convinced many that the game “encourages kids” to participate in some acts of sexual violence. The result has been two major retailers having pulled the game and reignite a controversy that should have been dead. Worse is that Nicole has had the audacity to brag about her action while demonizing gamers.

So it should not be surprising that the gaming community has come to Rockstar’s defense by circulating another petition while denouncing Nicole’s unfounded and damaging accusation.

Many have felt that Nicole’s petition was based on her not being informed of the game’s content and story, but that is just sugar coating it.The content of the petition was not based on misinformation or a response to Gamergate but the intent to damage. This was all about Nicole wanting to advance her own political ambitions by leaching on a social issue that matters to many.

Following in the footsteps of Jack Thompson, anti-video game activist and disbarred lawyer, this has been a moral crusade based on lies to deceive the public. Adding more insult, she is constantly referring to the game as a product targeted to kids while assuming gamers are kids. This despite the fact that the average gamer is in their late 20s and the game was made for adults.

Nicole is no hero looking out for those who been the victims of sexual violence. The real heroes are those who refuse to accept what happen to them while working not only to seek justice for themselves but for others. They are also the ones who are fighting to have the law take the crime seriously while pushing for stronger punishments against rapists.

It should also be noted that Change.org needs to to be held accountable for allowing such a petition to be passed around without checking its accuracy of its claim. Was the petition actually fact checked by an admin or does any social justice warrior gets a free pass?

Sexual violence is a problem that could only be addressed by fighting for the rights of the victims to seek justice, not slandering a work of art. In the end Nicole is no hero, she is just another opportunist pushing her own political agenda on the backs of those who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Written for Digital Journal 
12/11/2014
Original ArticleOp-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander