Written by Erik Kubik, kube00 Tuesday, 26 June 2012 06:00
Back to Liberty City in the wake of GTA IV. GTA IV was one of those epic games that came out in 2008. The PS3 and 360 were still trying to really show what they could do. The commercials made gamer’s jaws drop in awe. GTA IV was a great game but Episodes from Liberty City gave gamers more of what they loved instead of what they disliked.
This expansion can be broken down into two semi-different experiences. There is the Ballad of Gay Tony, which is a lot like GTA Vice City. There is a lot of humor and lightheartedness. Then there is the Lost and the Damned, which involves you running around as a member of a motorcycle gang which Niko has interactions with in GTA IV. Both expansions will have gamers run into familiar scenes and faces from GTA IV and gamers will cross paths with Niko.
Gay Tony was pretty linear and it felt the shortest of the two. Most of the missions involve gamers playing as Luis Lopez who works for a successful club owner named Tony. Most of the missions involve working to expand Tony’s empire and protect him. The side characters and the missions are diverse. Yusif will have gamers cracking up as he makes them steal choppers to pick up cars and pull off other crazy missions, which include a lot of helicopter and aerial battles. As someone who never got the hang of the flight controls I had to really work at these. The overall story is entertaining, but Luis' character isn’t very interesting. There were some side activities, dance offs, base jumping, club managing, and cage fights.
Of the two, the cage fights were the most fun, as Gay Tony really put an emphasis on blocking and using combos to take down foes. It has a steep learning curve, so gamers should beware. The club manager lets gamers toss rowdy people out for entertainment. There are a few new weapons, the best being a small tank and shotguns with explosive ammunition. The biggest change is after every finished mission gamers receive a score and you can replay the mission to receive a better score. I fondly remember the last mission taking several tries but its all worth it in the end.
Lost and the Damned is very different. The game revolves around gamers playing as Johnny "The Jew" Klebitz, who once led the Lost Biker Gang. The former leader returns, and the game is about Johnny trying to work his way up to the top. Out of the two expansions L&D’s story was the least interesting. Its good to note Johnny is a jerk to everyone, which can get old, but his character is more memorable than Luis' is.
Along the way there will be betrayal and back stabbings. The side missions are mostly races, intimidations, and gang hits which have to be done on a bike. You can also build up gang members’ loyalty with activities and just hanging out. Their respect levels give them access to better weapons that will come in handy in some of the bigger fights.
I didn't care much for using the bikes, the attempt at “realistic” physics by Rockstar does not work well with bike handling. But I got used to them, everything from choppers to street bikes. I used a car very little. There are a few new weapons for Lost and the Damned including an automatic pistol, a sawed off shotgun, and pipe bombs. These weapons are a lot of fun and never get old.
Overall I had fun with both expansions. I couldn't believe Gay Tony went by so fast. The Lost and the Damned did a better job of tying Niko into everything. My favorite aspect of the game was that most of the missions were short and there was almost no reason to have mid-mission checkpoints. I wish Rockstar had put more mid-mission checkpoints into GTA IV. In addition to the single player fun, the multi player modes are the same as GTA IV but players will get access to a few new weapons and vehicles.
Gamers can probably get Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City for around $15-$20 these days. I think you can buy both expansions separately on the 360. I used a coupon and got it cheap from Gamestop around 2 years ago, for around $10 and just now finished the Lost and the Damned, several years after it was released. Or you can save your money and get Grand Theft Auto IV The Complete Edition which has GTA IV and both expansions for around $25-$30. I have seen retailers like Kmart and Target put these games on clearance. Hands down, gamers cannot go wrong with returning to Liberty City and this time it's in a different perspective. Overall, I’d say the game gets a 4.5/5 and should net gamers close to another 20 hrs of game play time.