It seems like only yesterday that Rockstar was able to change the way we viewed open world games for the fourth time (depends on how many expansions you want to count). Now they’ve done it again by adding not one but two expansions on a disc to the already top rated game Grand Theft Auto 4. While the game is on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 these expansions are apart of an exclusive deal made with Xbox 360 and is exclusive to the system. The best part about them is if you don’t have GTA 4 or have somehow sold it (why would you do that?), you won’t need it to enjoy the Episodes of Liberty City.
The first episode was delivered almost a year ago but for those that have not checked it out can do so on this disk set. The Lost and the Damned sets you up as Johnny, the Vice President from the Lost biker crew and your story begins getting Billy, the President out of rehab. The constant struggle between Billy and Johnny is what you’ll notice the most in the story. Each of them have their own plans on how to run The Lost and will do what it takes to achieve it. As would most GTA characters they all do bad things to get their way and achieve greatness but something seems off about Johnny. Off the bat he doesn’t seem to likable, in fact your whole moral being while playing him may get effected … that maybe stretching it but he’s no Niko to say the least. The story line intertwines in sections with the main story of GTA 4 and has some great things going for it, while going through some of the loop holes in the main.
The gameplay mechanics in this expansion are so refined it really does make the experience alone worth playing. Handling motorcycles is better, better AI actions and a variety of different kinds of missions to boot. One thing thats cool is how their is a formation that should be kept while riding with the lost and will show up as a marker where health can be regenerated from. Nothing is really added graphically, although you will notice a filter in the game to give the feel of Lost and the Damned which can be taken good or bad. This is still the best open world Third-Person Action Adventure today so you know your getting more of the best. New multiplayer modes were also added to this with the access of the newer bikes and weapons. New modes or altered are Club Business, Lone Wolf Biker, Chopper vs. Chopper and Witness Protection. All offering great replay value, the best being lone wolf biker which is 1 vs all or chopper vs chopper which is a bike vs an actual helicopter. The only thing that is the least amusing is the story itself but can be easily over looked since the rest of this expansion is great. The Lost and the Damned is definitely top notch production when it comes to DLC, even to those compared to Oblivion and Fallout 3.
The Ballad of Gay Tony was just released in October of 2009 and is Rockstar’s second GTA 4 episodic release which mends/ends the story between all three editions of the game in its entirety. This game lets you play the part of Luis, the respectable bodyguard of Tony. The game surrounds you with the conflict between the stolen diamonds from the main story and what you’ll notice is how Rockstar was able to bring together the story from different character views that would make anyone have a serious case of deja vu. Just like the Lost and the Damned, the main story is roughly 10 hours with plenty of side missions to make the game go as long as you want. In the main campaign you have a respectable amount of air missions, whether its base jumping or flying a helicopter, Rockstar made sure to not ignore some of exhilarating action sequences that can be achieved in GTA 4.
You can also do everything from base jumping challenges, cage fighting, drug wars, and races. All the characters in TBoGT are very colorful which make for an amusing and funny campaign as the story itself only lends itself from the main story and doesn’t really tell its own tale. Besides that they seemed to have ignored any back story that could have taken place with Luis but again this is about Tony. Tweaks are made by improving AI, multiplayer is the same as GTA 4 but adds the new weapons and vehicles. With all the base jumping that was added to the single player you would think there would be a mode in multiplayer for it, none the less TBoGT is a great way to end one of the biggest confrontations that circulated in GTA 4 and is worth picking up.
Overall whether you download each episode (which will require the full version of GTA 4) or get the disk, The Episodes of Liberty City is truly a sight to behold. Everything thats packed between both expansions makes this an entirely new game with great cut scenes, voice talent and gameplay. The new weapons and vehicles that are in single player to multiplayer feels like your playing the game for the first time. Whether your a fan of the GTA series or not the attention to detail between each episodes is astonishing and has to be one of the best DLC’s to ever be released on a console.
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