Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City Review
After over a year since being released, Rockstar has released two episodes (Dowloadable Contents) first on the XBox 360, then PS3 and now on the PC. The episodes entitled The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony, covers characters and some of the plot holes left hanging in the original game.
In The Lost and Damned, we play as the biker Johnny Klebbitz, whom Niko worked with on several occasions and his own story with his club called The Lost. His story deals mostly with managing the club while the club’s president Billy Grey gets back from rehab, causing mayhem. His story intersects with the drug job with Niko, the kidnapping of Roman, and the jewelry heist for the mafia. Johnny being a biker, tends to perform better with riding bikes as opposed to driving cars (which normally ends up messy on police chases. His weapons range to mostly biker related weapons such as the sawed off two barrel shotgun.
Crossing over to the original game, he performed as an accomplice during the drug trade in Elizabeta Torres’ mission along with Niko. Another would be Johnny’s gang performed the diamond robbery which led to Niko picking them up. And working with Niko again during the diamond exchange at the museum. Johnny was also the one responsible for kidnapping Roman during the course of the game (and Niko saving him)
In The Ballad of Gay Tony, we play as the business partner of Gay Tony, Luis Lopez who tries to make things right for Tony’s crumbling Night Club empire. His primary work is the manager for one of Tony’s night clubs as well as his personal bodyguard. He normally helps out in some of Tony’s business dealings with the mafia as Tony has a debt problem.
Running parallel to the other GTA IV games, Tony took the diamonds during the exchange deal at the museum, he also took part in the execution of Niko’s enemy, Ray Bulgarin. He was also present during the time when Niko and the Mc Reary brothers robbed a bank.
The nice aspect of the expansion games are: new weapons, vehicles, places, new mini games and an expanded storyline further building upon the main game.
Guns: The main downside with the expansions are that one cannot interchange guns from The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. TLD had the automatic pistol, sawed off shotgun, and a full auto shotgun, While TBGT have ‘advanced’ weaponry in the form of the 44 Magnum pistol, P90 SMG, Advanced Sniper Rifle, a gold plated UZI and an explosive shotgun (excellent for taking out vehicles). With that said, TLD guns are more suited for gang warfare whereas the TBGT guns are far refined, reflecting on the different backgrounds of the characters.
Vehicles: Both TLD and TBGT now feature the ‘unique’ Infernus car (the one which Bernie gave Niko) as a common road car, same with another mainstay in the game which was the Bullet GT. Additional motorcycles have been added to the games, for TLD more American styled choppers are available, while European/Japanese sportbikes are found in TBGT. Another nice bonus is that in TBGT, we get to steal/fly a more powerful attack helicopter called the buzzard.
Places: Some of the places in the original GTAIV have become more accessible/used. The Lost’s clubhouse is accessible, the prison has become accessible, the Driving Range has become accessible, and so is the Amusement Park in Firefly Island. Two of Gay Tony’s clubs: Maisonette 9 and Hercules are accessible. At Maisonette 9, Luis can work as the Manager/Head Bouncer, or drink / pick-up ladies / dance.
Mini-games: Gang Wars / Drug Wars were introduced to add some additional action to the games, as their storylines are short. And to those who play them completely, special game items get unlocked and can be obtained for free from the safehouse. Another mini-game would be the Driving Range in West Algonquin. For TBGT, while working as a manager at Maisonette 9, Luis can do some jobs for some of the disco’s most famous patrons (spoofed personalities from real life). Another would try BASE jumping in and around Algonquin.
For an expansion worth half of the original game, expect an additional month of so of more gaming goodness from GTA IV.