9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (Video Game)
It's a GTA game...what more could you need to know?
This game is a big treat and very welcome to those who don't take full advantage of XBox live, and it continues the tradition of making 'ported' and 'download only' games eventually available on the console, and at a reduced price. (Still no word on a console version of Chinatown Wars, though.)
These 'spinoff' games are typically shorter than the main game, the missions tend to be easier, and the focus is on more immediate fun. You don't have to unlock any parts of the city (everything is instantly available), and the missions are often focused on shooting up rival gangs and causing havoc, presumably to reduce frustration. The two games here are very different in tone, but make no mistake, GTA-esque action abounds. The stories are also interwoven with each other and with the original GTA IV story, meaning Niko and Roman Belic appear as side characters, in addition to Brucie and other Liberty City miscreants.
The weapons may be the biggest improvement---we get a crop of new and very improved weapons that will ensure you spend that many more hours blowing up things real good. There's an automatic pistol, a couple of ridiculous shotguns (an auto shotgun and then some kind of combat shotgun with explosive shotguns that feels like an earthquake when it strikes something), a M-60 or SAW-esque machine gun (similar to Ghost Recon), and even sticky bombs, which go a long way towards terrorizing Liberty City. Just rampaging with these new toys alone will provide plenty of replay value. Some new vehicles appear, including some very fast new sports cars, an AMC Gremlin-lookalike, an attack helicopter, and best of all...an APC / SWAT (or NOOSE) tank.
Typically, there are new features and side missions. I loved the gang war aspect of LaD and the similar drug war missions in TBoGT. Too bad they haven't brought back the empire building element from Vice City Stories. Oddly, you can't do vigilante missions this time around (nor taxi, or fire, or ambulance, etc). Very surprised they didn't mess around with vehicle modification, either...the whole biker gang/chopper angle was ripe for it (or maybe the intentionally did not want to overlap with the Orange County Chopper obsessions). TLaTt is the grungier and darker story, concerning an outlaw biker gang. You play Jonny, a gang member caught between the recently released gang leader, rival factions, the mob, and the usual insanity. TBoGT is decidedly less somber and features more ridiculous missions. You play Luis, a bouncer in some of the biggest clubs in the city. It inserts more of the earlier GTA humor into the proceedings. The club angle is also fun as the protagonist can do shots, dance, and brawl...or play bouncer, instead. There's also a cage fighting bit in TBoGT where you can hone your melee skills and earn a few extra bucks.
As for the audio, we get the same stations as GTA IV, though with a couple of changes (the hardcore station is now death and black metal and blares constantly throughout TLatD, and The Journey changes in name only), but with all new songs. Many of the commercials are the same, but the talk shows are all new. Perhaps best of all is a belated take-off on the Howard Stern show called 'The Martin Serious Show' that pointedly rips the shock-jock by mocking the cynicism and 'funniness' of 'the show'. There's also new material on the TV, highlighting just how much work goes into these games.
Admittedly, while GTA IV was amazing in some regards, it was also a step back in others. I still think the most 'packed' GTA game was San Andreas, in terms of the ridiculous amount of things you could do---missions, skills, side missions, and the incredible size of the playable game space (essentially three cities in one game). To really pick on IV...what is up with the cheats? The least amount of cheats of any GTA game, by far. No flying cars...no ridiculous outfits for everyone else, no gang wars, no armed civilians, no airplanes!
But let's give the game its due. It's still GTA IV, but with new stories, and some new improvements. This is a great way to feed your GTA addiction until the next game (new platform or ported) appears.