The GTA series has skyrocketed back into the spotlight once again with the recent release of The Ballad of Gay Tony: an episode pack released exclusively for the Xbox 360. But Rockstar wasn’t done just yet.
Releasing alongside of Gay Tony, GTA: Episodes from Liberty City is a standalone Xbox 360 game, meaning you do not have to own Grand Theft Auto IV to play it. Is the pack worth it? Read on for the official Gamer Limit review.
So, getting down to brass tacks, what exactly are you getting? Well, the first half of the disc contains The Lost and Damned, a tale of a small biker gang in the heart of Liberty City. You play as Johnny Klebitz, vice president and acting president of the gang, while the real boss served some time in the clink.
As it turns out, the real president, Billy, is now free and is a total scumbag, resorting to low-life tactics and general debauchery. Most of the plot is spent explaining Johnny’s desire to live his life in peace, not unlike Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction. After Billy starts a full on gang war, things get ugly.
Despite the fact that the plot may seem pretty cliché, it indeed really works. One of my least favorite parts of GTA IV was the fact that I felt a sense of detachment from everyone else in it, except for Niko’s cousin Roman. The Lost and Damned turns that completely upside-down and features a community-centric plot, which really connects you to your fellow Lost brothers.
One of the best aspects of the episode is the sense of friendship you get from your biker brothers: you have to ride in formation and get heckled for breaking ranks. Also, if one dies throughout the course of the game, they’re replaced by a lower level cronie. Fortunately, The Lost and Damned takes away one big hassle from the first game: forced friendships. In GTA IV, Niko had to constantly make nice, tedious gestures in order to get his friends to do favors for him, but considering Johnny is vice president after all, he can just straight up call his brothers for extra things, such as a motorcycle delivery.
You’ll also get some extra multiplayer modes, including a Road Rash type motorcycle deathmatch battle, and the ability to ride (and quest) as an eight player full-on motorcycle gang. The Lost and Damned will no doubt appeal to all GTA IV players, but it doesn’t quite offer any major differentiators from the main game other than the plot direction.
As for The Ballad of Gay Tony, well, it starts off with a bang and never really lets up. After an absolutely incredible intro (featuring some characters from the main game, in a very popular scene), you’re put into the shoes of Luis Lopez: bodyguard, friend, partner, and trusted grease man of Gay Tony, the most illustrious night club owner in all of Liberty City. The story and the characters in it are superb; Rock Star is way ahead of it’s time when it comes to video game narratives.
The Ballad of Gay Tony is easily the better of the two episodes and offers a ton of extra activities that are actually fun to do in addition to the regular GTA IV fare. One of my problems with GTA IV was the fact that none of the extra-curricular activties were particularly fun to do, and going out with friends to do menial activities was dreadful. Luckily, Gay Tony fixes that. You can do a whole host of extra activities that weren’t available in previous iterations, from cage fighting, to base jumping, to bouncing people out of night clubs, to full-on optional drug wars.
You’ll notice that all the text has changed to a slightly more feminine feel, consisting of various pinks and purples, and if you buy Episodes from Liberty City as opposed to getting just Gay Tony off Xbox Live, you’ll get three exclusive radio stations to listen to. Additionally, after every mission, you’ll be ranked based on statistics, such as the amount of damage taken, and that score will be uploaded into the leaderboards; it’s a feature that isn’t in either GTA IV or The Lost and Damned.
Little extras like this really make Gay Tony shine that much more; also, don’t forget to check out Princess Robot Bubblegum on your in-game TV! The only real downfall of this episode pack is its multiplayer, which restricts you to certain areas, and isn’t nearly as earth shattering as The Lost and Damned’s multiplayer component. Feel free to check out James’ full review here for some more detailed impressions.
In short, $40 is a small price to pay for a ticket to all of Liberty City. Even if you hated Grand Theft Auto IV, I strongly suggest you give these episodes a try.
Despite the fact that the game's visuals aren't top of the line, Liberty City is still as beautiful as ever, and is probably the best sandbox location of all time.
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You've never had this much fun in a Grand Theft Auto game. The community based, motorcycle heavy Lost and Damned, and the family based, aircraft heavy Gay Tony both feel significantly different from one another. You're essentially getting two games.
There's tons of different radio stations to choose from, all with excellent musical choices, and both Lost and Damned and Gay Tony have superb voice acting talent.
Both The Lost and Damned and Gay Tony rougly clock in at about 10 hours each, but the amount of time you could spend exploring Liberty City is endless. You'll also love the extra multiplayer modes included in the episode packs, especially Bause Jmping.
You're either in one of two camps: someone who owns GTA IV, and someone who doesn't. For the former, you should pick up these two episode packs on Xbox Live and save yourself the hassle of multiple game discs. As for the latter, buy Grand Theft Auto Episodes; you get a full ticket to Liberty City with superior missions and story to boot.