Episodes from Liberty City Review
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While PS3 owners have had to wait quite a while for fresh Grand Theft Auto IV content, Episodes from Liberty City has proved it was well worth the wait.
- Returning to Liberty City with 20 hours of new content
- Witnessing how all the stories interwine
- The online component in The Lost and the Damned
- The game engine is noticeably showing its age
- Various graphical issues
Two years ago we were introduced to the grimy world encompassed in Liberty City. As far as games go, two years is a fairly substantial period of time, and many PlayStation 3 owners are likely upset it’s taken this long to get any additional content for Grand Theft Auto IV. While Xbox 360 owners have had great reasons to revisit the city, thanks to two timed exclusive Episodes from Rockstar Games, PS3 owners have moved onto other games and have probably forgotten about Niko and how much fun it was to steal a car, run over a sidewalk worth of pedestrians, and flee from pursuing fuzz. In fact, many PS3 gamers likely feel neglected by Rockstar. But, timed exclusives must someday come to an end, and that time has passed as Episodes from Liberty City, consisting of both The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, have been released on PS3.
Episodes from Liberty City assumes you know all about GTAIV; well, not “all” about the game, but that you at least have a working knowledge of it. You do not need the GTA IV disc to play Episodes from Liberty City. At $39.99 USD the disc offers quite a bang for your buck with some 20 hours of new content. The disc includes both The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony in their entirety. Just as the core game required a lengthy install, so too will EFLT – make sure you have room on your hard drive. Once the game is installed, you’ll be prompted to choose which content you’d like to play. We’ll start with The Lost and the Damned.
While both chunks of DLC add new stories, missions, characters, weapons, and vehicles, neither seem to offer that same initial punch as GTA IV did when it was first released. The characters are not as interesting as Niko, nor are the stories as deep or compelling. Still, both entries are a joy to play and they got us excited about the franchise again.
In The Lost and the Damned, you play as Johnny Kiebitz (known as “The Jew”), a member of the biker gang The Lost. Johnny temporarily took over leadership of the gang after its leader, Billy Grey, went into rehab. While Billy was away, Johnny started to change the gang’s direction and create business truces with rival thugs. But as the story opens and Billy regains leadership of The Lost, the biker gang returns to its old ways of drugs, alcohol, violence, and eliminating rivals. It’s a strong opening that, classic to GTA-style, feels like a gritty Hollywood blockbuster.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Lost and Damned are the changes and enhancements to riding motorcycles. This is done through the actual story, so it doesn’t feel tacked on. Bikes feel sturdier, and handle quite well. Johnny doesn’t fall off bikes nearly as much as Niko did. Of course, if you are riding full tilt and run into a parked car, you are going to fly off your bike and suffer the consequences; nonetheless, minor accidents don’t knock you off your ride like they did in GTA IV. Since you are in a biker gang, you’ll be riding motorcycles a lot – the improved riding makes it a joy to hop on a hog and tear up the town. There are plenty of new vehicles in The Lost and Damned. Most of the vehicles are motorcycles (go figure), all of which have unique sounds and drivability.
The core gameplay mechanics in both Episodes are virtually the same to the original game. You’ll tap R1 to run into cover, L2 to target enemies, R2 to shoot, etc. There are additions like bike races, which play out like the classic Road Rash since you get baseball bats to fend off competitors. You can spend a lot of time partaking in new races, but even with the improved bike handling, we still found these competitions frustrating.
There are a handful of new weapons to play with, including a pipe bomb and a grenade launcher. You’ll use these weapons, and all the classic ... (continued on next page)