GTAIV Episodes From Liberty City – Xbox 360 Review – Tight Leather All Round

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Grand Theft Auto IV was at the very least a huge technical achievement. The game offered hours and hours of gameplay and pretty much let you go anywhere and do anything.

The one major issue with the game was easily the fact that at times the game felt a bit too slow and had you running around chasing after friendships rather than shooting prostitutes and mugging innocent pedestrians. Some people loved every second while others eventually grew tired of the game, without ever coming back to see how it all ends.

Episodes Of Liberty City now arrives as a compilation pack of the two DLC episodes, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony.

If you are one of those people that thought that GTAIV was already too much game to handle, wait a second because these two episodes may actually be what you were actually looking for all along.

First things first, let me just explain what you are actually getting here. When you purchase the Episodes from Liberty City, you do not actually get Grand Theft Auto IV but rather the two DLC episodes on a disc that are do not require the original game in any way, shape or form.

In a world where games are often sold off or traded in, Rockstar made a very smart choice, allowing all those without the original to jump right into the action without acquiring a copy of the original first.

I will discuss the two episodes separately below but for now I want to focus on the approach taken with their creation as well as what they offer as a pack.

Rockstar need to be given a pat on the back for what they have achieved with The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.

While both games take place in the very same city that we all know and love from Grand Theft Auto IV, the episodes manage to maintain their own unique feeling due to some very clever design choices made by Rockstar.

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By keeping campaign elements and missions in certain areas of the city, the player is very much pulled into different worlds. This together with different menu designs and the frequency of certain music genres on the radio’s manage to bring an entirely unique vibe to the experience.

The Lost and Damned will have you spending a lot of your time in poorer areas of Liberty City, with a large focus on riding motorcycles and blasting metal over the radio whereas the Ballad of Gay Tony pulls you into the glamorous world of Liberty City’s nightlife and the thumping beats of club music.

Each campaign will run you around 10-15 hours to complete, which when compared to the original feels a whole lot more focused and exciting. You already know the deal and Rockstar know it, so the long introductions and tutorial missions are skipped in favor of throwing your straight into the story.

One of the best aspects of the new stories, much like with the original is that the cutscenes, voice acting and witty dialogue come together to create an incredibly enjoyable and sometimes downright hilarious take on the lives of the people living in Liberty City. The Lost And Damned is a much moodier, darker story which is contrasted to the more upbeat and awkward situations that arise in The Ballad Of Gay Tony.

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An aspect of the episodes that I really love, is that the characters sometimes cross each others paths. Remember the bank robbery that you pulled off as Niko and the Irish brothers? Yeah, The Ballad Of Gay Tony begins with your character liking face down on the floor in the middle of a bank robbery, you get where this is going and it’s just plain awesome.

We already reviewed The Lost and Damned a while back, so I will post a round-up of the review as well as it’s score below as a well as the same for the now released Ballad of Gay Tony as well, with the final score being for the entire pack.

The Lost and Damned

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Official description:

Johnny is a veteran member of The Lost, a notorious biker gang. Johnny has been creating business opportunities for The Lost in Liberty City, but his first loyalty must be to the patch he wears on his back and to Billy Grey, the club’s President. However, when Billy returns from rehab hell-bent on bloodshed and debauchery, Johnny finds himself in the middle of a vicious turf war with rival gangs for control of a city torn apart by violence and corruption. Can the brotherhood survive?

Conclusion:

A much more focused experience than GTA IV that will have you experience a darker, dingier side of Liberty City as you travel in bike formations and deal with inter-gang politics doing whatever it takes to keep your biker gang intact.

You can see our full review of The Lost And Damned by clicking here.

Score: 9.0

The Ballad Of Gay Tony

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Official Description:

The Ballad of Gay Tony injects Liberty City with an overdose of guns, glitz, and grime. As Luis Lopez, part-time hoodlum and full-time assistant to legendary nightclub impresario Tony Prince (a.k.a. “Gay Tony”), players will struggle with the competing loyalties of family and friends, and with the uncertainty about who is real and who is fake in a world in which everyone has a price.

Conclusion:

A great story with some laugh-out-loud cutscenes combined with a solid GTA action experience will have you remembering all of the reasons that you loved Grand Theft Auto in the first place.

Score: 9.0

Episodes From Liberty City:

It’s difficult to even think that these two episodes are merely additions to the original. Each feels worthy of being it’s own fully-priced title and show that Rockstar are still at the top of their game.

For fans of Grand Theft Auto, this pack is a must-buy. For those of you who have not yet had the chance to try Grand Theft Auto IV, I can even recommend that you pick this pack up instead.

The fact that you not only get one but two full GTA experiences for less than the price of a single game is nothing short of a bargain. We can only hope that other developers will pay attention to what Rockstar have done with these two episodes, they are fantastic (and add more to the multiplayer modes as well).

Final Score: 9.0

Last Updated: November 9, 2009

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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