GTA Episodes From Liberty City: Review (Xbox 360)

by Victor ‘r0gue’ Vieira

**disclaimer**

The author of the following review, was consumed with the feelings of being ‘cool’ directly after playing the title due to the nature of the title, and therefore attempted to use many words associated with the ‘popular culture’. Zombiegamer takes no responsibility nor necessarily agrees with the slang language that the author used because he was feeling ‘cool.’ Please find a terminology section at the end of the review for reference.

**end disclaimer**


Introduction

Because this is not an ordinary retail title, my review format will be slightly different with this one.

The Gran Theft Auto series is Rockstar’s award winning series of some of the biggest and most memorable titles. It is a sandbox style series that basically has you play out what life on the wrong side of the street would be like. It is all about the characters, shooting wars, jacking cars, flying or driving various vehicles and generally running mayhem.


If like me you no longer own a copy of GTA IV, or if you just want to save your costly cap, then you will be thrilled to know that Episodes From Liberty City is available in a great retail package. Not only do you get both games on one disc, but an authentic poster with the Liberty City map on the reverse side was included in a really well priced package of around R380. The episodes in this title are ‘Ballad of Gay Tony’ and ‘The Lost and Damned.’

These two stories continue the story of the stolen diamonds from GTA IV and add some great gameplay improvements. The Lost and Damned makes riding motorcycles fun and The Ballad of Gay Tony adds a scoring system for each mission, so you can go back and redo any mission that you did not score highly on, however should you wish to upload a replay, you will only be able to do so with your first attempt. There are some awesome new weapons, a subject that has never really impressed me enough with previous title.

Overview


The Ballad of Gay Tony


gta-bogt-1

Drugs, sex and clubbing…

Let me start by saying that this is my favorite Gran Theft Auto experience yet. GTA’s rely strongly on the characters, and with the last full GTA game I just could not play the game purely because I did not like the character you played as and the co-star. They both for some reason really irritated me for two hours before I gave the game up.


In The Ballad of Gay Tony, you play as the likeable Dominican (Latin American), Luis Lopez. You are ‘Gay Tony’s’ business partner (as he calls you), or his right-hand man. Luis worked his way up from the bad end of town, to rolling with the biggest and most notorious businessman, so to speak in Liberty City. Tony Prince is one of the richest men in the city and the owner of the hottest straight and gay nightclubs. He took Luis under his wing and uses him for various jobs. Tony is a stressed out man, the nightclub scene is currently stressful and Luis is trying to keep it all together for Tony as a good right-hand man would.


Not only is Luis my favourite GTA anti-hero, but the supporting cast is this one is absolutely phenomenal. Their dialogue hilarious, the voice-acting was the best so far and their animations with the humour made for many classic GTA, or any game moments for me. Even watching TV or listening to ads on the radio had me in fits of laughter.

gta-bogt2

Visually I was more than impressed with the animations, movement was smooth and characters gestures were in accordance to dialogue and very believable. GTA fans will know what to expect with how the vehicles and buildings look, it is not what this game is about and this title was no different, not bad but not stunning either. The presentation goes nicely with the theme of this episode; you will see what I mean. Then there is the banging soundtrack. Now I know that they are always good from Rockstar, but I can’t tell you how good this one is. Some huge tracks from some of the biggest Pop Stars and a nice selection of oldies. The soundtrack took this episode up a few notches for me and often I would just drive around the block as I arrived at a destination, just to listen to the rest of the track.


Another thing that really surprised me with this episode was some of the activities. Yes it is true, there is nookie, then there is golf (with a twist), darts, even base jumping and I never thought I would say about a game,  I enjoyed dancing at a club to impress the girls. Look out for some slappers though. As usual you can choose when to do these activities, or you do them in accordance with the story, part of your ‘job’ and there is plenty to do.

Some of the new weapons include an Explosive Shotgun, Assault SMG, Gold SMG, Advanced MG, Advanced Sniper and Sticky Bombs. The weapons sound good and feel great; finally a part of GTA that now deserves mentioning of.

With a banging soundtrack, voice acting second to none, hot cars, boats and helicopters, anyone and everyone should enjoy the engaging storyline that is ‘The Ballad of Gay Tony.’


Well anyone over 18 that is, this is most definitely for a mature audience.

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The Lost and Damned


Hell’s angels…

‘Lost and Damned’ ties into the GTA IV story from the point of view of another character Johnny Klebitz, a biker in the Lost and Damned biker gang. Johny is a little more difficult to like, an opportunist thug, fresh out of rehab and deep in the middle of rival gang wars for control of Liberty City.

Visually, much like BOGT the characters look good, their gestures tie in with their rough-neck dialogue and the buildings and vehicles are the GTA norm (as mentioned in previous episode). I went with the theme of the episode to set the mood, and pretty much left the music on a metal or rock radio station and it really did set the mood nicely.

gtalad

Also what went nicely with the bike-gang theme was the outlandish weapons, which again felt great and sounded realistic. Some of the outlandish weapons are a Pipe Bomb, Sawed-off shotgun and a grenade launcher. The gang wars took a nice amount of time, letting me really get into them and called for me to make use of my entire arsenal.


I suspect that this particular episode will get more play from me in multiplayer mode. There are the GTA expected activities like the deathmatches and races and some fun and interesting new stuff. There is ‘chopper vs. chopper,’ fun chopper races, ‘Club business’ will have you stealing bikes, taking out rival gangs and picking up other members of Club. ‘Lone Biker Wolf’ is bike racing with survival being the objective and ‘Witness protection’ where you have to escort witnesses to police stations around the city, while rivals will try to destroy the escorting bus and take out the snitches before they talk

The side-mission activities were fun with air-hockey making its debut. Then there is pool, cards and being a biker-themed episode, arm-wrestling makes its debut too. As mentioned, riding bikes feels better than before and coupled with plenty of content, big gang wars using the nifty new weapons, this episodes still holds it’s own and is definitely worthy a playthrough.

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What I loved

  • The music.
  • The feel and sound of the weapons.
  • BOGT was my favourite GTA.
  • Multiplayer.
  • Pimped vehicles.
  • Riding bikes in L&D.
  • Strong and memorable dialogue.
  • Epic humour.
  • Character animations and movements.
  • Authentic poster.
  • Shorter episodes meant not too much repetition as with other GTA titles.

What I disliked

  • Buildings still bland and look lifeless.
  • A few glitches here and there.
  • It took allot to build up a big cop-chase.

Conclusion

GTA: Episodes from Liberty City is great value for money, featuring one good episode and one absolutely stunning one with an intriguing storyline. I like the fact that I could get this retail version despite not owning the e original game and the authentic poster will make for great memorabilia. Not only do you get around a reported 20 hours gameplay (for me around 30) but you get some stunning new modes in multiplayer. I also think that this is a great package for newcomers to the GTA franchise (if there is any out there) because of the two shorter games; it is not overwhelming in size and easier to follow.

Rockstar delivered some of their best humour yet, made many good gaming memories for me. Gameplay and controls are now spot-on, making for a more smoother experience. Not to be missed in my opinion.

For more visit the official site.

Definitions of the ‘cool’ language:

‘Banging’ verb

A verb used to describe nice music. Usually used with the word ‘tunes’.

‘Banging tunes’ would be a selection of nice songs, best played at a loud volume.

‘Banging’ originates from the sub-woofer reverberating vigorously.

A longing for something far away or long ago or for former happy circumstances

‘Tunes’ noun

Songs

Associated with lingo used in popular culture.

‘Slapper’ noun

A female who does not have a high moral code.

A ‘slapper’ would be the type of female a man would normally have a wild night with, but not want to take home to meet his mother.‘Mofo’ noun

One who the user of the term, does not like.

Usually used in negative context, to show ones dislike of this mofo i.e. “you mofo”- you idiot.

‘Rocks’ verb

If something ‘rocks’, it is very nice.

Used to describe something i.e. “that car rocks”- the car is very nice.

‘Rollin’ verb

To associate yourself with a certain clan.

Origins from Hip-Hop culture. “I am rollin with that gang”- I am part of that gang.

‘Nookie’ verb or noun

Sexual relations.

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