I have read countless amounts of reviews for the Grand Theft Auto IV Expansions. Both The Lost And The Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony have pretty much hit the mark with us gaming critics, which is all well and good. But most of the sites out there have glanced over the fact that both these episodes are now available as a stand alone disc, As I got this neat little package from Santa this Christmas I thought it best that I would give you guys my opinion on the package as a whole, and throw in my thoughts on both of these episodes just for good measure.
If there are any Xbox 360 gamers out there such as myself then you will automatically see one advantage of this stand alone expansion. Now what I mean buy Xbox 360 gamers such as myself is, like me you probably bought or obtained your 360 around the first year they came out. Meaning there is a lot of 360′s out there which are still humming away with 20 gig hard drives in them. With the amount of Xbox live content now out there, I am struggling away with my 20 gig beasty and I don’t have the finances to upgrade, hard drives for 360′s don’t come cheap so I try to free up as much space as possible. This is where this neat little stand alone expansion comes into play. On Xbox live you will be downloading about one and a half to two gigs worth of GTA lovelyness per episode. That is [pretty much four gigs worth of you much needed space sucked up by these massive GTA expansions. This is why the Episodes from liberty city expansion pack appealed to me so much in the first place. So kudos to Rockstar for putting them on a separate disk for us. Cheers guys!
Other than that you get all the features that you would get if you were to download these episodes from the XBL Market Place. But if you are a well seasoned GTA freak like myself and keen game collector, just seeing that Episodes from Liberty City box nuzzled up next to your GTA IV box on your gaming shelf does put a smile on your face. But as with all these things these days, that's just down to personal preference. Other than that the stand alone expansion pack doesn't do much else except give tired GTA IV disk a rest, as this gem doesn't need the previous GTA IV game at all.
I am gonna lay this down on the line here, I love pretty much anything biker related in the media. The TV show, Sons Of Anarchy has to be up there in my top ten TV shows. So when I first got my gaming mitts on the Lost And Damned, I couldn't help but giggle to myself. I have been waiting since GTA Vice City for a Grand Theft Auto game centered around biker gangs. So after my little jump for joy at this first episode from liberty city I got stuck right into the games story line. You play a biker called Johnny Klebitz he is a member of 'The Lost' biker gang and he has been made temporary president as the Lost's head honcho is doing time. So as Johnny, you carry out the duties of the Lost and eventually break your club president out of jail it is, pretty much up to you to keep the club united as one. With huge twists and turns in the story line you eventually find yourself caught up with the whole episode with the diamonds that played a rather large part in Grand Theft Auto IV, so you get some great crossovers with Niko.
With the new story line and character you get a whole host of new weapons and a couple of new bikes to boot, you also have the ability to shoot a sewn off shot gun from the front of your bike, which is pretty damn cool. You also get some new challenges like biker races and gang wars, which unlock weapons at your safe house classic GTA stylee and to put the icing on the cake you also get some new multi player modes which breathes some life into your GTA IV multi-player experience.
For me The Lost And Damned is a great addition the the GTA franchise and indeed GTA IV. It's a bit of a shame that it wasn't a full on stand alone game, because it would of worked fantastically by itself, the whole biker idea is great so lets hope Rockstar take that into account and make GTA V a game centered around Bikers.
I don't know about any of you out there, but when I first heard the title The Ballad Of Gay Tony I did wince a bit. In the past Rockstar have not been that subtle with their gay overtones, so basically when I heard that this was the title of the next episode in the GTA IV saga I was a bit dubious. But now I have sank my teeth into this episode, I am pleasantly surprised, not a same sex scary conga line in sight. You play as Luis Lopez, he is the business partner of 'Gay' Tony Prince, Tony is a legendary night club owner and a well know in Liberty City. As you and Tony take on the city trying to keep everyone happy and paying Tony's loans off you are torn between family and the high life which in turn winds you up with the saga with the diamonds as well.
Just like the Lost and the Damned you get some new editions to liberty city, in the way of weapons, vehicles, new multi-player modes and even a new radio station. But what really made it for me was parachute jumping. If you set your mind back San Andreas and how cool parachutes were in that game, they have make a very welcome comeback with base jump challenges. You can also adorn a parachute and jump off wherever the hell you like.
The Ballad Of Gay Tony has gone back to classic over the top grand theft auto. With tanks also making a come back. The fans spoke and Rockstar answered. Meaning that for me GTA IV is complete. There is nothing like ripping up the city in a tank. Which then begs the question, why the heck didn't they add all this into the original GTA IV? I could go on a rant here and say that Episodes From Liberty City is Rockstar's huge money making scheme, that they should of added all these extras into the original game. But and this is a big but the separate stories of both of these episodes are fantastic, they tie into the main story well, as well as going down their own story routes. Rockstar have really put a lot of thought into this GTA series and my hat goes off to them.
So all in all Episodes from liberty city is a good purchase, awesome story lines, great new additions to GTA IV and a a nice little saga to play though. So does this mean Rockstar will now skip over to the next numbered Grand Theft Auto game? Or will we see a revival of Vice City? Who Knows whats in store for the GTA franchise.