The Grand Theft Auto series has a rich history of telling very unique and epic crime stories, from the thrilling first fully 3D adventures of the no named protagonist of ‘GTA3’ to the beloved Tommy Vercetti and to the present day Niko Bellic. They all had a story to tell, each of them unique and made the player want to keep going and continue on the journey of either a petty thugs rise to power or an immigrants road to make something he can call his own with a past shrouded in vengeance. No matter what the story is Rockstar manages to make something spectacular with it. That pattern is not set to waste here in ‘Episodes From Liberty City’. However does the game warrant a purchase to those who have already experienced GTAIV? After all it is the same landscape with a few minor changes. Does the game add enough content to assure the buy that its going to be 20-40 dollars (single DLC episodes that require GTAIV disc are $20 and disc based 2 episodes are $40) well spent?
The short and simple answer is ‘Yes’. Each episode has its own unique feel and color scheme, which makes everything “feel” new. Of course that is a great design decision and I commend them for doing this as it adds not only to the fact it makes the game feel like a new GTA game completely compared to GTAIV and the other Episode but it also adds to the atmosphere of the game, from the added radio stations to the color changes of rainbow patters on TBoGT and hardcore rock and beaten up letters and gritty feel of TLAD. Both episodes add the new feature of mid-mission checkpoints which is very helpful and was a much needed addition in GTAIV.
The Lost MC
TLAD is the first of the DLC for GTAIV that was released on the Xbox 360. It follows Johnny Klebitz who is the VP of the the biker gang The Lost who is in a power struggle with the recently released from rehab, Billy Grey. The game brings back old characters such as Elizabeta, Ray Boccino and none other than Niko Bellic himself during various missions. The first of the two episodes feels short but there is plenty to do after the fact. Twenty five (25) motorcycle races, fifty (50) gang wars and added Multiplayer like Own The City, Club Business, Chopper Vs Chopper, Race, Witness Protection and Lone Wolf Biker (king of the hill type free for all). The story is great and it might have you wishing there was more when you’re done.
Each episode has its own new weapons to add to the already bolstering array, TLAD adds streetsweeper shotgun, automatic pistol, grenade launcher, sawed off shotty, pipe bombs, and a half a pool cue melee weapon. There is also the addition of your MC crew delivering your bikes and weapons when you call them like Jacob in GTAIV, a great new feature that for the most part is carried over to TboGT with the exception of a gun van sadly. You can also call on your crew to give you backup on certain missions and all gang wars to raise their toughness. Their toughness also ranks up what weapons they can use and how helpful they will be to you in a fight. It also counts towards a shiny new trophy.
TBoGT puts you in the shoes of Luis Lopez who some may remember from a few missions in GTAIV as well as Johnny. Luis is the personal bodyguard of Anthony ‘Gay Tony’ Prince who is the owner of the two biggest nightclubs in Liberty City. You again meet people from GTAIV and even TLAD. Story follows you and Tony as you try to solidify your financial situation as your boss battles substance abuse and everyone around you is after money and your services for their own needs. TboGT is my personal favorite of the two episodes as it feels slightly longer depending on how much you do and how focused with the story. Also it is the most fun I have had with a GTA game since the PS2 days.
Like TLAD there are new weapons to annihilate the masses with. The M249 SAW light machine gun, Atchisson Assault Shotgun aka automatic shotgun, sticky bombs, AMC Automag Pistol, and my personal favorite, P90 submachine gun (great for mowing down annoyances). Vehicles added are a few high-end sports cars and sedans, Buzzard attack chopper, Skylift heavy lift helicopter, and a new regular helicopter called Swift. New activities in BoGT are nightclub management job, ability to play the dance mini-game at both clubs, driving range (to work on your swing) as well as an underground fight club and base jumping from some of the tallest skyscrapers in Liberty City. You can also participate in Drug Wars side missions once unlocked that allow you to go on small missions with your friends, Henrique and Armando. There is only one added multiplayer choice and that is base-jumping with your friends in free roam.
Like A Ball Of Yarn
As I sort of touched on above, the game intertwines with the stories from each other and GTAIV which makes everything feel like you need to play them in order, also they can be enjoyed as stand alones. The game really rewards people who played and remembered everything from the other episode and GTAIV. What Rockstar did with the Episodes and GTAIV was amazing as far as innovation and ideas. Sadly if some of the things that were in the episodes made it into the release of GTAIV the game would have been much more appreciated by the fan base than it was. It feels that with the episodes they tried very hard to please fans and add everything that the fans asked for from side missions to new weapons and vehicles. The whole package makes the overall Grand Theft Auto experience well, grand.
Live Hard, Party Harder
That quote above was taken from the cover of the instruction booklet of Episodes From Liberty City because that is what you will do. You will play TLAD and live hardcore, be immersed in the atmosphere of The Lost Motorcycle Club. When you get around to TboGT you will party hard, you will get into trouble you will have the time of your life. This game is essential for any GTAIV fan, even any GTA fan in general. This collection of episodes is a must buy for any fan of the free-roam genre that Rockstar created and are the masters of. The story of both episodes will immerse you in the world and you will be sucked in and love every sinful minute of it. If this is the end of the episodic DLC then this is truly a grand finale for Liberty City.