I, along with many others, was ultimately kind of disappointed with the original GTA IV. The removal of the staple elements of the GTA franchise was not good; the side service missions such as paramedic/fire/taxi, the wee remote control vehicles, the crazy cars along with the mini tracks for go karting, triple stunt points gone, and so on... and of course the loss of the planes. Heck even give me back the dodo R*! It was a big surprise to see all that gone and not a pleasant one. But when playing GTA IV you kind of felt that they had more planned for Liberty City in the future. Maybe that golfing range might be able to be used, that skateboard park might come into play and perhaps we'll get to ride on the ferris wheel too at some point.
So with the release of TLOD and TBOGT we're getting somewhere. Now for full disclosure I played The Ballad of Gay Tony through first even though it's episode two, primarily because I wanted to base jump! And in TBOGT I can see Rockstar finally giving us back some of what they took away. You can indeed now play golf in that floating driving range, you can base jump off specific buildings as a challenge or indeed just buy a parachute and jump off anything you want. Tanks are back too! Rockstar are slowly making LC a more fun sandbox and I hope that continues with the release of more episodes. With regards to these two episodes, well you can't go wrong. Both are typical GTA fare with varied missions and great story lines. I won't go into the plots of each - do I need to? There's some nice cross-over moments in the stories though that will make you smile!
With TBOGT you have specific optional targets to do in each mission such as a time limit or how much damage you take. The nice thing about the way this works are the new very extensive mission checkpoints, something massively lacking from GTA IV. But there's a penalty for using a checkpoint - if you use a reload then your mission objectives aren't saved. You can still complete the mission and continue with the story but there's an actual incentive to replay each one and do better each time. It's a great game mechanic that satisfies both players who prefer to blast through the game and those who wish to fine tune each play-through. Nice.
It also seems that LC's code and graphics were fine-tuned somewhat because there's considerably less little glitches and popups in TBOGT over TLOD and the original. But do install the game to the HD if you buy the disc version regardless of which episode you play.
All in all very satisfied that I got my money's worth here. I'm now playing through TLOD although I still have some side mission (drug wars) to complete in TBOGT. It took me 18 hours to complete the second episode and I expect about the same for TLOD. So for about a dollar an hour entertainment this hits the mark. If you felt, as I did, that GTA IV was a step in the wrong direction for GTA then I recommend this compilation; GTA is heading back to its roots.
R* should also be commended for not allowing folks to play the episodes without the need for the original GTA disc if you buy the disc version (you'll need the original if you DL the episodes from XBL). Helpful for those of us who put GTA IV on ebay shortly after completing it!
on June 20, 2010
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.
on June 17, 2010
Ballad of Gay Tony is an Excellent addition to the GTA4 product that really captures the true essence of the Manhattan Club scene. the storyline itself is pretty good...but the free roam is where its at when it comes to GTA. i love how once the game begins, you are started in Manhattan with all areas unlocked and all of the guns are available to purchase...as well as extra outfits, its alot faster than the original GTA4 with Niko. having multiple bootycalls, participating in a fight club and managing the dance club are interesting aspects as well, however boring after a while...but this game does an excellent job of simulating an Actual Life...probably the best out of any game iv played...it mirrors San Andreas in many ways...just with 10x more sex...
Lost and Damned wasnt really my cup of tea. the storyline is OK but for the most part, felt very boring, maybe because biker gangs arent my thing?? i feel they could have done alot more with it. maybe have an ongoing Turf War mode where other gangs attack your area of town at random. on a lighter note, it does capture the biking culture well so for fans of that, you may be very satisfied with it...
overall, Rockstar did an awesome job at extending the Life of GTA4 with these add on's and they are truly worth your money and time.
on April 15, 2013
This was the first time since Vice City that i actually care about the world of GTA4. I found the one in the middle to be offensive. But, this game has better weapons, graphics, characters, just better everything when compared to Niko's adventure. TLAD can't even compare to the sheer fun and enjoyment of platying this game through. it's sad alot of people have glossed over this gem. I only can imagine how much better this would have been had it gotten the same time and dedication GTA4 got. I've beaten it 6 times and it never gets old. If you haven't played, play it.
on January 9, 2010
This is a fantastic game! I won't waste time with another glowing review, but it is important to know that if you purchase this version (Liberty City Episodes) instead of the regular GTAIV game, you will not be able to play online with regular GTAIV users, even if they have downloaded the Lost and Damned and/or Ballad of Gay Tony episodes!!
This is a serious flaw in my opinion. My friends have the original GTAIV and downloaded these episodes, but we cannot play online because I bought Liberty City episodes. They are the exact same thing, but we cannot play online!!!!
on December 2, 2012
I purchased this awhile back but thought I'd finally add my 2 cents. The overal gameplay is really good and there is definitely some cross-over on the story missions mainly with what takes place at the Museum. You know what I'm talking about if you have played the original GTA4 story with Niko Bellic. Rockstar did a great job of allowing you to play that 1 mission from every characters point of view so you get a feel how they escaped the museum. I thought that was a nice touch !!
I didn't care for Lost & The Damned (LAD) as much as The Ballad of Gay Tony (TBOGT). In LAD its motorcycles and many of the missions involve riding a bike. I hated the original GTA4's "mechanics" with the bike and it was SO EASY to get dislodged. I would never want to ride one. In LAD it is grealy improved and the motorcycles handle ALOT better !! The story is a little "so-so" and I never tired the multiplayer so I cannot commnet on that. On the other hand TBOGT is pure over-the-top fun that is a throw back to San Andreas .... the cars are souped up, the weapons do more damage and they bring back base-jumping !! If you haven't done base-jumping in a video game this a good place to start. The storyline is excellent and the multiplayer is better than the original GTA4 in my opinion. Side missions like the Gang Wars are really fun, if you make the purchase I suggest play the storyline until those side missions become available .... Luis's buddys "A" & "H" really tease him during conversations when they are enroute to get their stash !! The humor might be offensive to some due to the nature of the story about Gay Tony, but I laughed many times at their comments !! This add-on is a must have if you love the original GTA4.