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Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City review

Astonishing
AT A GLANCE
  • Two complete, kickass GTA adventures on one disc
  • Injects Liberty City with tons of new activities
  • Mid-mission checkpoints are a huge improvement
  • No extras on the disc
  • Lost and Damned's bleakness verges on depressing
  • PS3 and PC owners still left out in the cold

It’s strange to think that, as of this writing, Grand Theft Auto IV is more than a year and a half old. It’s even stranger to think that the story it began is finally complete, with the two downloadable episodes – The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony – filling in plot holes and offering up inventive new ways to explore the city that most GTA fans probably thought they’d exhausted of possibilities by now.


Above: Looks like you’ve got some more exploring to do 

The episodes follow the stories of biker-gang lieutenant Johnny Klebitz and club-owner flunky Luis Fernando Lopez, both of which take place in roughly the same timeframe as, and run parallel to, the events of GTA IV. The three storylines frequently intersect, and only by playing through all three of them can you really get a complete picture of what happens, and why.

If you haven’t downloaded either add-on yet, then you might want to consider picking up Episodes from Liberty City, which collects them both on one disc that you don’t need Grand Theft Auto IV to play. It doesn’t offer any new features over the downloadable editions, unless you count a static game-select screen as a “feature,” but if you lack the time or the bandwidth to wait for the lengthy downloads, or just don’t have GTA IV, this is the best way to get your hands on them.


Above: Seriously, this screen is the only thing the disc version has over the downloads 

Besides, while the episodes are just add-on expansions by themselves, bundling them together makes for one badass, two-part adventure that easily rivals GTA IV’s greatness and makes Episodes from Liberty City – and the score we’ve attached to it – a little greater than the sum of its parts. In short, it’s awesome, and if you’re any kind of GTA fan and haven’t played the episodes, you should pick this up immediately. Here’s what to expect:


The Lost and Damned

While GTA IV’s story is far from cheery, The Lost and Damned takes the game’s tone in an even bleaker direction, even going so far as to add a grain filter to make everything look as washed-out and depressing as its protagonists. Focusing on an aging, decaying biker gang called The Lost, TLaD introduces players to Johnny Klebitz, who has held the gang together while its belligerent leader was in court-ordered rehab – and who is then forced to watch as said leader comes back and tears it all apart in the name of nothing more than petty greed and the thrill of living fast.


Above: Not that Johnny is exactly a saint, of course 

While TLaD’s story offers up a look at the grungiest aspects of Liberty City’s already-seedy underworld, it also brings a raft of new gameplay features and improvements, not the least of which is the ability to stay on your bike if you suffer a minor collision. Throw in sidekicks who level up the more they’re used, a few new weapons and new, biker-centric multiplayer modes, and The Lost and Damned is a fun – if unrelentingly gloomy – romp through GTA’s even-rougher side. For a full rundown, check out our Super Review:


Above: Click the image for the full review!

The Ballad of Gay Tony

Drawing a sharp contrast to The Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony is colorful, silly and packed with cool things to see and do, and its tone and presentation fall somewhere between GTA IV and the overtly ridiculous GTA: San Andreas. Following the exploits of Luis Lopez, the bodyguard, business partner and friend of nightclub baron “Gay” Tony Prince, it delves into Liberty City’s neon-drenched club scene, as Luis runs violent, high-speed errands for some of the city’s richest celebrities and power players.


Above: Also, it has tanks, which GTA IV doesn’t. We probably should point that out more 

Gameplay-wise, TBoGT introduces new luxury and sports cars, a new attack chopper, a small armory of expensive, high-powered firearms and explosives, some ridiculously destructive missions and – most importantly – the ability to strap on a parachute and BASE jump out of helicopters or off the city’s many skyscrapers. It’s a lot of fun, and comes the closest to delivering the over-the-top craziness that a lot of GTA fans expected after San Andreas. Here, check out the Super Review to find out more:


Above: Click the image for the full review! 


Is it better than…?

Grand Theft Auto IV? Individually, no. Taken as a package, however, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony easily measure up to the scope and depth of Niko Bellic’s immigrant tale. Episodes from Liberty City isn’t the trailblazer GTA IV was, but it does improve noticeably on its gameplay while filling out the rest of its story, and it’s as worthy a successor as any sequel could be.

Red Faction: Guerrilla? It depends on what you want out of your free-roaming carjacker games. Demolishing every building in sight makes Guerrilla a lot of fun, but while Guerrilla is a respectable game, its GTA-on-Mars conceit starts to wear a little thin somewhere around the umpteenth rescue mission. If you want a huge, destructible playground in which to go berserk, nobody does it better than Guerrilla. But if you want to play through two excellent stories with creative, unique missions and top-notch production values, Liberty City is where you belong.

Saints Row 2? Yes. Again, while Saints Row 2 delivers a fun playground filled with things to destroy and interesting stuff to do, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are more coherent, better constructed and ultimately more believable than SR2’s nihilistic cartoon take on urban crime.



Just for you, Metacritic!

While great on their own, bringing The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony together makes for an impressive package that rivals GTA IV itself while completing the story it began. The missions, gameplay tweaks and parallel stories make this a must-buy for fans who haven’t already downloaded either add-on.

Oct 28, 2009

More Info

Release date: Oct 29 2009 - Xbox 360 (US)
Oct 29 2009 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Rockstar Games, Rockstar
Developed by: Rockstar North
Franchise: Grand Theft Auto
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs, Use of Alcohol
PEGI Rating:
18+

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18 comments

  • Reebokanonymous - December 5, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    I've been playing these nonstop since GTA V was announced. Soon I'm gonna have to go back to IV. Hell, I'll probably play through the PS2 trilogy before V comes out.
  • Asbo82 - November 23, 2009 2:04 p.m.

    i love these games just wish the stories where longer so it wasnt over so quick,they need to get moveing on another gta now....
  • Vagrant - November 19, 2009 6:25 a.m.

    Dunno if anyone will even see this, but the start of this review about disc-exclusives should probably be amended. Apparently there are radio stations only on the disc version. Like Vice City FM. Otherwise; good review. And hah, my reCAPTCHA thing had "molotov" in.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - November 3, 2009 6:41 p.m.

    @vitoruss: If you've already got Lost and Damned, and you have the capability to download Gay Tony, then you should probably just download Gay Tony and find a cheap used copy of GTA IV to replace your original. Unless you really don't want the original back, of course.
  • vitoruss - November 2, 2009 8:12 p.m.

    Now here's the question that I've had that has bothered me for a while. I bought GTA:4 and loved it. I downloaded the Lost and the Damned and loved it. I don't have my copy of GTA:4 anymore, any by extension, the Lost and the Damned. I have yet to play the Ballad of Gay Tony, and I REALLY want to. I was wondering, would it be worth it for me to buy this package? On one hand, I'm a GTA fanatic and I loved tLatD, and on another hand, that's kind of a lot of money. I'm totally willing to play tLatD again, but is it worth it for me to re-buy it, just to *really* be playing the Ballad of Gay Tony? Thanks, I'd really appreciate the help, if you guys could.
  • IGiveUFunkButt - November 2, 2009 11:03 a.m.

    Every thing you have in the artical is spot on, but as a completionist I'm still pissed at the 100% completion of Gay Tony is tied to specific objects in each mission. That along with Lost and Damned depressing resolution make me think this should have got a 9/10. But then you're the proffesional. (I'm not being sarcastic. You really are.)
  • BinaryFart - November 2, 2009 3:44 a.m.

    I believe the disc compilation also includes a new radio station called "Vice City" or something like it... I've heard it may have 80's music. If you're into that... decade, it might be a reason to get the disc over the DLC....
  • Spybreak8 - October 31, 2009 1:01 a.m.

    So there are two articles of a review of this game? One for each method, download or retail lol. I think the first dlc was great, this is just as good or even better. If this heads to PS3 eventually I want Uncharted 2 haha.
  • fionnoh - October 30, 2009 5:38 p.m.

    your super reviews are getting less... super...
  • EffinChrys - October 30, 2009 8:28 a.m.

    Poor PS3 owners. GTA, as a whole, is a PC/PlayStation game franchise. Too bad Micro$haft had to snatch away the DLCs. I guess that's business nowadays. I hope both of these, and more come, over to PS3. On a related note- Fallout 3 on PS3 finally has its DLC. =D *damn rhyming*
  • crazyqazqaz - October 30, 2009 8:09 a.m.

    @liquidgfx Stop using exclamation marks! Your hurting my ears!!
  • Collymilad - October 30, 2009 1:48 a.m.

    Didn't MS FUND development of these? I.E. they wouldn't have been made if it wasn't for MS money, if so I can't see it ever coming to PS3. $50m is a hell of a wad
  • garnsr - October 29, 2009 10:23 p.m.

    Hope it makes its way to PS3. I played Saint's Row 2 after GTA 4, and it was fairly enjoyable, though not nearly as enthralling as GTA. I could use some more of this type of game.
  • liquidgfx - October 29, 2009 8:03 p.m.

    God I hope they make GTA5 entertaining as I found I couldnt get into 4 or any of the SO CALLED exclusive DLC at all! Didnt care if Nico, Roman, Barry et al got their ass capped or not! Just seemed to take itself FAR too serious! Far to much emphasis on making it look REAL and not really entertaining! Oh well!
  • caboose4400 - October 29, 2009 10:02 a.m.

    .......mid....mission............checkpoints? my GOD IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER!!!!!! to this dcl
  • Jaces - October 29, 2009 1:50 a.m.

    Oh yes! yes! yes! I've been waiting for this for a long time, being a PS3 only owner with a 360 now I have a lot of games to look forward to. Already pre-ordered and payed for. :D
  • Cyberninja - October 28, 2009 11:02 p.m.

    looks great i hope it doesnt start any flamewars
  • mrandydixon - October 28, 2009 10:07 p.m.

    Finally! I Really Smiled at This!

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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