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Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City - 360 - Review

We all like a good deal and the Xbox 360 has seen its share of good packaged deals in terms of add-ons to our favorite games whether it’s double expansion packs for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion or Fallout 3. Still, all of these packages pale in comparison to Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City … a packaged deal that will make you glad you bought an Xbox 360. Oh yeah, it’s just that good.

 

Episodes from Liberty City includes both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony all on one disc that features two very different stories that interconnect with Niko Bellic’s story from Grand Theft Auto IV. Interestingly enough, this packaged bundle doesn’t even require you to own a copy of GTA IV. You can simply pop the disc into your Xbox 360 and play both games off the disc. This alone already makes it a great deal for those who no longer have a copy of GTA IV.

The Lost and the Damned

Having been the released first as a download-only game a couple of months back, The Lost and the Damned tells the story of Johnny Klebitz, second-in-command of The Lost Motorcycle Club who suddenly finds himself questioning the dealings of the club’s President who was recently released from prison. Suddenly, Johnny begins his quest to save The Lost from a man who might just end up destroying the motorcycle gang.

In true GTA fashion, Johnny is free to take on a number of story missions or spend his time riding his chopper through Liberty City causing as much mayhem with his brothers as possible. He can even hang out at The Lost headquarters or participate in numerous other side ventures. Since the game pushes the motorcycle gang aspect of the game, you can even call on fellow The Lost club members to provide back up when you need it the most.

The Lost and Damned fixed a few of the issues that popped up in GTA IV, namely better checkpoints during missions so if you manage to get killed or fail to complete the objective you can replay from the checkpoint via the cell phone. There are even hidden extras in the game, new weapons (a better pistol and sawed-off shotgun), new songs on the radio and more new vehicles that include various motorcycles.

The Ballad of Gay Tony 

While it’s a genuine blast tearing through Liberty City with your gang, it is The Ballad of Gay Tony that makes this second episode one of the best Grand Theft Auto experiences in Liberty City this side of the fourth main game. You assume the role of Dominican muscle Luis Lopez who works for the flamboyant Tony Prince (better known as Gay Tony) who owns the most popular straight and gay nightclub in Liberty City.

Like Niko Bellic, Luis is a likeable man with an eye towards business and nothing else so there is seldom a quiet moment for him seeing as the city is swarming with those that are willing to get in the way of business. He’s also the type of guy who takes care of business whether it’s tending to the nightclubs or lending his muscle to Gay Tony who manages to get them both into trouble. 

Adding more weapons to the arsenal including the new weapons introduced in The Lost and Damned, Gay Tony also brings more of all the things we liked about GTA IV as well as those little touches including hanging out with friends or participating in even more activities that include dancing, drinking with the VIPs in the nightclubs and even take to the skies with helicopters. Even the missions are more fun in this episode. 

You can read the full review on The Ballad of Gay Tony here.

While both games are pleasantly lengthy and add more interesting things to do in Liberty City, it is Gay Tony that really sells this package. Still, this doesn’t mean you won’t have a hell of a time riding a chopper with The Lost but Gay Tony simply feels like a complete package all by itself. My only gripe is that the online multiplayer portion sports separate lobbies so if you loved the weapons in Gay Tony while playing Lost and Damned you will have to quit your game and load up Gay Tony instead.

 

Of course, both games won’t change the way you look at Liberty City. The city is still very much the same with all the familiar spots you’ve seen over a dozen times while playing GTA IV. Sure, a few new places have opened up to accommodate the two stories but it’s still the same city landscape. It’s definitely time for the series to move on to a different location. Here’s hoping it modern day Vice City (as hinted by the radio station in Gay Tony) or maybe even San Andreas.

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City is, without a doubt, one of the best deals you’ll get on the Xbox 360 and one of the best reasons to still want to hang out in Liberty City. At the $40 price tag, GTA fans will definitely not be disappointed by the two complete games that doesn’t even require a download or the core game to play. Consider this a Must-own package worth every dollar.

Review Scoring Details for Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City

Gameplay: 9.0
As Johnny Klebitz you ride with a brotherhood in a game that represents a motorcycle gang perfectly and the missions reflect that. On the other hand, stepping into Luis Lopez’s shoes makes for a more deeply involving game that has you not only running around the city on missions but also taking care of business in the nightclubs. Plus, there’s dancing and drinking mini-games that beats Johnny’s arm wrestling and drinking mini-games.

Graphics: 9.5
While the GTA series certainly needs a facelift, Liberty City is still a very visually impressive city. The character models are excellent and the cut scenes are just so wonderfully cinematic. I still get a kick out of the awesome explosions in these games.

Sound: 10
It’s no surprise to find some great voice acting for both these games and a diverse collection of music that keeps us tuned on to our favorite radio stations. There’s some great Reggae and ’80s tunes in Gay Tony and some great rock tunes (AC/DC and Bon Jovi) in Lost and Damned.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
Like past Grand Theft Auto games, both games have some difficult levels that will have you retrying said mission. You’ll be glad your cell phone allows you to retry a mission from the mission’s checkpoint.

Concept: 9.5
You can ride with the brothers in The Lost and Damned with exclusive new weapons, updated radio stations and soak up the motorcycle gang feel. Then again, you can hit the nightclub scene in Liberty City in The Ballad of Gay Tony. The best news is that you can play the two games off the disc without owning a copy of GTA IV.

Multiplayer: 8.5
The two games separate the multiplayer modes so Gay Tony players won’t get the new weapons you get in The Lost and Damned game. You will still have a blast with the two Deathmatch game modes as well as the multiplayer races.

Overall: 9.5
Simply put, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City is one of the most impressive bundles to hit the Xbox 360. You simply can’t beat two very different and amazing stories that, packed together, make for a deeply rewarding gaming experience. Even if you don’t own GTA IV, this is the package you should definitely be playing.

Amazing

Gw
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