Toni Cipriani is fresh back in the city after lying low for several years, having killed a made man as a favor for Don Salvatore Leone. The grateful Salvatore puts him straight back to work. During the course of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, players can accept a variety of missions from many people, including Salvatore, Salvatore's wife Maria, JD O'Toole, wise guy Vincenzo "Vinnie" Cilli, and even Toni's own mother. Players may also accept missions from the "Avenging Angels", similar to the Guardian Angels, earning special vehicles and wardrobe rewards.
Liberty City's layout is largely similar to Grand Theft Auto III, while it also incorporates elements found in Grand Theft Auto III's successors, such as more indoor environments, clothing changes, and motorcycles. In addition, in keeping with recent Grand Theft Auto games, the player has more flexibility in terms of moving the camera around for viewing surroundings (Grand Theft Auto III is noticeably limited in that respect). Things that are omitted from this game are the ability to climb and the ability to swim - contact with deep bodies of water is instantly fatal in this game. The overall sandbox play area, as it is based upon the original Liberty City layout, is considerably smaller than that of San Andreas.