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2009 bought the release of Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City. Two games in one and non-stop entertainment.
Story - The Lost and Damned:
Jonathan 'Johnny' Klebitz, a member of the famous biker gang, The Lost Motorcycle Club, is riding with his fellow gang members through the streets of Alderney. He's vice president but been acting leader since the real leader has been locked up in prison. The gang suffered through Billy's, the real leader, poor leadership skills. So Johnny has been working on truces and deals with other gangs, which lead to The Lost Motorcycle gang being the main boys of the Liberty City streets again. However, Billy gets released from prison and wants to go back running the gang how he did it. This becomes apparent when Billy starts a gang war with there arch enemies, the Angels of Death. A gang which Johnny had work hard on resolving the issues with, whilst Billy was inside. With Billy now back in charge, destruction, death and mayhem will follow. What can Johnny do to save Liberty City and the gang he loves so much.
The Ballad of Gay Tony:
Luis Fernando Lopez is being held hostage in a raid on a bank. After the criminals scarper and Luis is questioned by police, he heads to Gay Tony's loft and bumps into a senior Ancelotti mobster, who is there to collect Gay Tony's nightclub income to pay off that weeks interest on an outstanding loan. Tony talks to Luis about his dire financial situation he is in with the two clubs he owns; Maisonette 9 and Hercules. In an attempt to gain some favour with the senior Ancelotti mobster, Luis and Tony head to Chinatown to negotiate a deal with a senior Triad member. But things go wrong and Luis has to step in to protect Tony as they escape through the streets of Liberty City. Can Luis help his friend Tony, whilst the Ancelotti mobsters and Triads are on to them.
Visuals: Amazing graphics which are very life like, in terms of the characters and vehicles. You would expect nothing less from a Rock* game. Beautiful graphics, with amazing views of a fantastic looking city and just so vibrant. With the Lost and Damned, your more set in the poorer part of town, where the gang wars have kept the good people away. You can see this with all the detail they go into when creating the different environments. I mean, in the Ballard of Gay Tony, the club and other places you visit are ment to look lively and a lot more upmarket, more the posher side of the City. The parachute was last seen in GTA: San Andreas and it was nice to see it back again with the upgraded graphics. When your base jumping or sky diving, the buildings on the ground, vehicles on the road and even the vibrant blue sky and sea, it's just a fantastic sequence of beautiful scenery. Cruising around the City and checking out the views can easily take up your time, especially watching the sun come up or setting over the ocean. They really created a visual masterpiece.
Audio: With every GTA game you have the radio stations as your soundtrack. This is one of my favourite parts of GTA, as you can cycle through all the different stations and find something you will like. Some great tunes are in this game and there's nothing like powering through the City on your motorbike or in a fast car, listening to some cracking music.
Gameplay: These two games both in some way link into the previous GTA game, GTA IV. You see some missions but via a different angle/character, characters from GTA IV are seen in both episodes and characters from the episodes, can also been seen in the other episode (Keeping up?!) Now I love when you have characters from previous games linking into the next game. It gives gamers great satisfaction to see the game studios care about how gamers care for the characters they have spent quite a lot of time and effort on. Plus its a bonus when it's done as well as Rock* did, by involving the characters in different parts of the different stories in each game. It was really cleverly done and adds to the great experience had overall.
The Lost and Damned is about a motorcycle gang, so your obviously going to spend the majority of the game on a motorbike. Now I love the motorbikes from the GTA universe, so I really enjoyed this game no end. However, my brother hates them (probably down to him being a poor driver on them but sshh!), so he didn't like this game as much. Depending on previous experience on motorbikes in GTA games, you may not enjoy this game as much. But I reckon the story will have you hooked, so it shouldn't be too bad. This episode bought some great additions that hadn't been available before in a GTA game. For example, you could use your phone to ring up other gang members who would meet you nearby to drop off weapons and armour and if you needed a new bike, another member would drop it off right where you standing. This was a really cool and worked well in the game. Another was gang wars which involved members of your gang, joining you in gang wars all over the City and with every war won, you had weapons become available at your safehouse and clubhouse. There were also the normal side mission in the races which you can take part in all around the different islands.
With the Ballard of Gay Tony, new weapons and vehicles were available and the parachute returned. Base jumping and sky diving challenges are the side missions and really are brilliant and exhilarating to play. You can visit Tony's two nightclubs and take part in drinking games and dancing competitions. Plus if you fancy, takeover head security and deal with famous people, paparazzi and drunken idiots. There is also an underground fighting tournament, which has fantastic graphics and flawless combat mode, a great addition to the main story. Drug wars are dotted over the islands for you to complete, which help to break up and make the main story last longer.
Conclusion: Since GTA: Vice City, I have played all the GTA games. GTA IV disappointed me, but these two episodes in a way, righted all that was wrong. Yes, the graphics really are stunning, the gameplay flawless and you still have the fun radio station soundtrack. But these two episodes went back to the more fun side of GTA. There are some fantastic missions and they are a joy to play, nothing feels a chore, unlike GTA IV. They really got back on form with these episodes and create two wonderful stories, with great characters, added mini games and a fantastic game from start to finish. They aren't long games but they were originally DLC packs (downloadable content) and for the price you pay and for getting two games in one,this really is a bargain for what Rock* have created. Whether in a high-end sports car or on a motorbike, cruising through the streets just got a lot more fun and spectacular to experience.
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, released in 2009, compiles two of Grand Theft Auto: IV's expansion packs, The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Episodes from Liberty City does not require Grand Theft Auto IV.
BALLAD OF GAY TONY
The Ballad of Gay Tony follows the adventures of the a new protagonist, Luis Lopez. Lopez is the bodyguard to the high profile nightclub owner, Tony Prince, better known as "Gay Tony". Gay Tony has been in a bit of trouble with some loan sharks, and Lopez needs to sort them out.
The story of BGOT is fun and exciting and the world is a lot more colourful and full of partying citizens. This is a nice and massive contrast from the dark, gritty and dull at times world of GTA IV's protagonist Niko Bellic. The story however, in my opinion, tries a bit too hard to be fun as it feels like Rockstar tried to force humour, which is simply cringeworthy.
The characters in BGOT are very funny and memorable, especially Gay Tony, whose camp out of control moments makes him hilarious.
The Ballad of Gay Tony introduces new and exciting features to the GTA IV era. One of these new features that is brilliant is the new parachute and sky diving minigames. One of my best experiences with the game is parachuting out of a crashing helicopter. It made me feel like a James Bond type character, which was exciting and thrilling.
There are new weapons and vehicles to find in BGOT. The stand-out vehicle, for me, was the Buzzard. The Buzzard is a helicopter that shoots rockets. Watching pedestrians getting flung around after your rocket has hit them never gets old. Some of the new weapons are very fun and insanely overpowered, for example the new satchel charges. Planning a terrorist attack with them is fun, if not a bit mad.
There still is no planes in the Ballad of Gay Tony, although there is an encounter with one. The lack of planes really does make the GTA: IV experience incomplete. 9/11 was 10 years ago, so even that really isn't an excuse anymore.
BGOT does not introduce any new game modes, but returns with improved versions of ones found in GTA IV. For example, you can now use nitro in Race and parachutes in Free Mode. These new changes, in my opinion, are brilliant and nitro makes the Racing more exhilarating than it already was. The biggest disappointment in the new multiplayer is the lack of the some game modes found in the vanilla version. This just seems lazy on Rockstar's part.
Rockstar made the vanilla GTA IV experience even more GTA with hilarious characters and storyline complimented with exciting new features.
LOST AND THE DAMNED
The Lost and The Damned follows the adventures of Johnny Klebitz, the vice president of the biker gang "The Lost". The president of "The Lost", Billy Grey, has been in rehab. Johnny is not a good terms with Billy, believing that Billy's constant war waging with rival gangs is immature and bad for business. This causes tension and soon the gang itself becomes divided in opinion.
The storyline of LOTD is a bit too confusing as it introduces too many characters and plot twists. The story, although inferior to IV's, is still quite a fun and gritty treat.
LOTD's world is a lot more gritty, owing to it's new grain filter. The grain filter, although adds to the experience, does make the game look sub-par to BGOT and GTA IV due to the overuse of it. It can be turned off however, which is my preferred setting.
The characters of LOTD are not likeable or memorable at all. Johnny is a rough speaking thug and does not garner my respect at all throughout the story. Johnny's thug are also not as relatable as the steroid junkie Brucie nor the partying Roman. The only character that was spot on was Billy Grey. He has no likeable qualities at all, owing to his big bad antagonist characterisation.
The Lost and the Damned introduces new weapons, vehicles and subtle new features.
One of these new features are the new basketball bashing motorbike races. Watching some hairy old fat biker getting battered off a bike that's too small for him never gets old. The lack of new features in the LOTD compared to BOGT is a bit disappointing and makes the DLC feel like it has been rushed.
The LOTD emphasises the use of the new motorbikes introduced as they feel faster and handle far better compared to the slippery bikes in IV. This emphasis really suits the tone of the DLC and does more justice to motorbikes compared to IV's pathetic attempt. The biggest disappointment with the new vehicles is the tow truck. The tow truck can not tow anything at all, which is immensely lazy of Rockstar and disappointed me greatly.
The new weapons in LOTD include a new grenade launcher and a new sawn-off shotgun. These new weapons are very powerful and like the bikes, made me feel like a brutal and bloodthirsty biker.
The Lost and the Damned, like the Ballad of Gay Tony removes some multiplayer modes present in IV, but unlike BOGT, introduces new ones. My favourite of these new modes is "Witness Protection" and "Chopper vs Chopper".
"Witness Protection" involves two teams, NOOSE and The Lost. The NOOSE team must protect and deliver a witness to a preset location and the Lost must stop this. This mode is very fun with friends and involves a lot of strategy and team to pull off, instead of the standard "kill everything you see" modes of IV.
"Chopper vs Chopper" involves one player piloting a helicopter and the other driving a bike. This mode is very fun whether you are the biker or the pilot. You really feel like a fugitive on the run when you are the biker.
The biggest disappointment with Multiplayer in LOTD is the lack of the Annihilator helicopter in Free Mode. This change, in my opinion, makes no sense at all and just seems like a thing that Rockstar carelessly missed.
Rockstar nailed the gritty biker theme in the Lost and the Damned but the lack of new features present is disappointing.
This game, being the next GTA title on the PS3/Xbox 360 after GTA 4, had a lot to live up to. GTA 4 was a fantastic game, and this, was just as good, if not better than it. There is two games on one disc, The Lost And Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony.
The Lost and Damned
In this game you take up the role of a biker named Johnny, who's in a gang called the Lost. It's the same city as on GTA 4, but it has a couple of new features. Besides the totally new story, you can now play air hockey with your friends. This may sound like a very small change, but the hockey is actually very enjoyable. The only thing I don't like about the game is that you can't buy things anymore. The only things you could really pay for before is clothes, but as you need to wear your biker uniform, you can't buy clothes. But overall this game is very good and entertaining.
The Ballad Of Gay Tony
In this game you control a nightclub bouncer who is also the bodyguard for the owner of Liberty City's best nightclubs, Gay Tony. This has everything you can do on both the other games (Lost and Damned and GTA 4) plus lots of mini-games. You can go base jumping, be a nightclub bouncer, do a triathlon, play golf, go to drug wars and more. This game overall is better than Lost and Damned.
Overall this game is largely the same as GTA 4 with a few extra features. So if you're content with GTA 4, there's no need to buy this, but if you loved GTA 4, and want more, get this game.
Episodes from Liberty City is an anthology set which combines two standalone GTA IV follow-ups, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, into one modestly-priced game that you can play even if you don't have GTA IV (although why wouldn't you?).
The Lost and Damned and Gay Tony are very much two different games; Damned is more about gang-based gameplay, whereas in Gay Tony you are more akin to a lone wolf, doing things by yourself. This disparity is reflected by other aspects in the game; Damned is a lot brisker and easier to play through, whereas Gay Tony has a very odd merit system, whereby your progress in each mission is tracked, and you're given a score after each mission is completed.
What I REALLY liked about this game, is how it weaves in and out of the plot points of GTA IV, and the game really is a lot more rewarding if you've recently played GTA IV or remember it well. There are some smart in-jokes, and the missions overlap such that you'll learn new things about a lot of the characters (dead and alive), which adds a lot to the uniqueness of the experience.
Visually, the game doesn't differ at all from GTA IV, but this is hardly a complaint, given how stunning GTA IV looked visually. It still holds up very well, and the audio is of course very well handled as usual, with some fine music and hilarious radio stations.
Each pack takes less than half the time of GTAIV, but given how the focus is far more narrow and minimalist, it's just the right amount of time to let things play out properly. The charm, wit, and brilliance of the previous game is still present, making this a fully realised expansion that isn't cheaply composed at all.
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes for Liberty City is one of the most anticipated expansion packs to hit the PS3. I waited for this expansion to come for a long time because Microsoft had paid Rockstar studio to secure the rights of this expansion pack for a year. The episodes of Liberty City features two new single player campaigns. They are the Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and the Damned. The players get a variety of new content including new TV shows, new weapons, new cars, music channels and multiplayer modes.
The Lost and the Damned takes place at the same time as Niko's story. The main character here is Johnny Klebitz who is the vice president of the biker gang called 'The Lost'. I can say that the campaign takes about 10-15 hours to complete. Several gameplay elements have been modified in this expansion pack. The most important change are the optimised controls for bikes. Every bike can be handled easily and this becomes more important because several new models have been added. Also it is very difficult to throw yourself of the bike for fun. Even if you crash into cars and bounce of road signs, you will not get unseated.
Your character does not have to make friends in Liberty City as he has been brought up in the city his entire life. Also, players can call for backup if missions are becoming tough for them. Every member of your backup team who survives gains some experience which increases their health and fighting skills. You can also kill sea gulls if you have spare time. One of the new feature of multiplayer mode that I found was Witness Protection. One team has to play as NOOSE officers while the other team has to take on the role of the 'Lost' gang.
In the Ballad of Gay Tony, the player takes on the role of Luis Lopez. Luis is working for Tony Prince who is the owner of the city's nightclubs. The story focuses mainly on the problems of Gay Tony and most of the missions take place in Algonquin. The players can also use sticky bombs and can also operate tanks!! Players receive a score when each mission is completed and they can replay the mission any time using their mobile phones for a higher score. Overall the two expansion stories are a must buy if you like GTA.