Episodes From Liberty City


By: Tristan Clark    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 10:00 AM
 
 
 
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It’s been a long time coming, but the extra downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV is finally on the PS3. Conveniently packaged for your playing pleasure on a single disc, Episodes From Liberty City combines both The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Several years on from the release of the original GTA IV, is this still worth your while? If you’re still a fan of the series, then the answer remains an emphatic “yes”.

Both episodes are, in general, a lot tighter than GTA IV’s original storyline. Their scope is smaller, sure, but this only serves to provide a more focused, streamlined experience free from a lot of the faff you had to wade through before. Look at the titular ‘Lost’ biker gang for example: all the gameplay and narrative elements revolve around the simple premise of driving a bike around. Sure, there’s a lot more to it than that, but having a single element to concentrate on gives these two titles a lot of cohesion.

Of course, you’ll still be doing all the things you expect from a GTA title and its missions: namely, driving, shooting, and more driving. It can get fairly repetitive after a while, but at least this time round we get mid-mission checkpoints (hurray!) – and again, if you’re into the narrative, it helps you get through any gameplay lulls.

Lost and the Damned riffs on the themes of loyalty and brotherhood, and does so pretty impressively. As Johnny Klebitz, you’re a biker who actually uses his brain, and is keen to get a slightly more meaningful life going for the gang. But after a stint at the top, old leader Billy Grey returns from rehab with a burning desire to keep things just as they were – and drive the gang down a one-way street of nihilism. Naturally, conflict occurs! As per previous GTA games, you start off fairly poor and small-scale – although we’re not talking Niko levels of poor. Still, it’s a well charted “rise to the top” course that you take in LatD.

In The Ballad of Gay Tony, on the other hand, you’re pretty much at the top from the start. You are Luiz Lopez, associate of successful nightclub owner Tony Prince. Luiz, somewhat disappointingly, is set in the same mold as every other GTA protagonist, but this is mitigated a lot by the often hilarious supporting cast.

This is the episode where it seems Rockstar thought, “screw it, we need more skydiving!” Everything goes big here – you can take part in cage fights, base jumping, helicopter rides, and a lot more. Explosions abound, and the game is all the better for it. Aerial combat, a big selling point, felt pretty hard to pull off, but it’s a fairly minor blip.

A host of mini-games and sideline activities help flesh out both episodes, and there’s actually a surprising amount of content here. It matters not one bit that Liberty City is largely the same as before – you’ll be doing a lot of new things within this sprawling playground.

There are a couple of things that won’t be up everyone’s alley. The main characters of both episodes aren’t generally all that sympathetic – if you’re here for the stories, you may be slightly turned off. But then, that’s always been the case with GTA characters – they’re not exactly nice people. As usual, this is compounded somewhat by the disconnect between your character’s motivations and personality, and the crazy chaos you can cause outside of the cutscenes. Again, not everyone will care, but it’s worth mentioning.

The graphics are starting to feel a little bit dated, but can still amaze at times – it seems the GTA engines have always been about captivating broad strokes rather than amazing small-scale detail. The feel of the game in general is still surprisingly solid, and while advances have been made in subsequent games over the years, GTA IV can still hold its own.

So there you have it – two episodes that strip a lot of the fat away from the original GTA IV and provide quite a few hours of entertainment. At roughly NZ $70, it’s certainly easy to recommend Episodes From Liberty City – and remember, you don’t need GTA IV to play this. In fact, if you just want simple balls-to-the-wall fun in an open world, I’d almost recommend this over the game it’s based on.


The Score

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
"A solid package for a decent price"
9.0
Excellent
Rating: R18   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min

 

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Comments (12)

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Deanology NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 11:34 AM Posted by Deanology
I told myself i would not get this game..
Although, after starting playing through GTA4 again... Maybe..
Ehhh... See about gettin it when the price drops.
 
 
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zhaligkeer
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 11:48 AM Posted by zhaligkeer
"it seemed to look and play just the same as its Xbox 360 counterpart". A bit like your lousy effort at provding a review. Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V strikes again.
 
 
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Soyerz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 11:52 AM Posted by Soyerz
13 April 2010, 11:48 AM Reply to zhaligkeer
"it seemed to look and play just the same as its Xbox 360 counterpart". A bit like your lousy effort at provding a review. Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V strikes again.
How are those in anyway related?
 
 
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lottethefirst
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 11:57 AM Posted by lottethefirst
It would appear you have little respect for your readers or the developer if all you can offer is a short blurb about your esteemed colleague and a copy/paste job. Let me know where I can send my CV.. I need a job like this.
 
 
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zhaligkeer
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 12:00 PM Posted by zhaligkeer
13 April 2010, 11:52 AM Reply to Soyerz
How are those in anyway related?
Point is, its a complete rehash of the 360 review with an intro and conclusion.
 
 
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Soyerz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 12:05 PM Posted by Soyerz
Oh I see what you mean. I read through the Ballad of Gay Tony review and it is pretty much the same thing :P
 
 
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zhaligkeer
On Tuesday 13 Apr 2010 12:19 PM Posted by zhaligkeer
13 April 2010, 12:05 PM Reply to Soyerz
Oh I see what you mean. I read through the Ballad of Gay Tony review and it is pretty much the same thing :P
exactly, poor effort to be honest.
 
 
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MA3LK
On Wednesday 14 Apr 2010 3:39 PM Posted by MA3LK
I might get this later on in the year.
 
 
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Oliver
On Wednesday 14 Apr 2010 11:08 PM Posted by Oliver
Really who cares about the review. The game itself is a cut/paste job from the 360 to PS3, so why would they be much different? What's the need for a completely new review? Cut/paste is completely fine here.
 
 
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ironfist92 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 15 Apr 2010 2:06 PM Posted by ironfist92
$70? I bought mine Brand New for $58.
 
 
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jbl316
On Friday 16 Apr 2010 11:02 PM Posted by jbl316
Was thinking of getting this last year on 360. Now I can get on PS3 too. Might get it later in the year hopefully by then the 360 version will have decreased in price.
 
 
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ryanrayx2 NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Tuesday 27 Apr 2010 10:07 PM Posted by ryanrayx2
Woot. Finaly!
 
 
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