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So I’ve just finished GTA IV Episodes from Liberty City, a collection of two DLC packs that were released after the original GTA IV came out. I’ve had them on my “must play at some point” list for a while now and here is what I thought of each pack.

First up is ‘Lost & the Damned’, it’s a story about a biker gang, huge choppers, more black leather than a BDSM club and more bros than hoes life culture. You play the second in command of a biker gang, with the aforementioned name. After welcoming your boss once he is released from prison, everything seems to go wrong, gang members stabbing you in the back, fighting other gangs, stealing their bikes and so on.

The story neatly fits within the same city and during the same time line as the original character you played in GTA IV, Niko Bellic. Every so often you either cross paths with him briefly or he appears in the background of a cut scene, just as a nice little nod to the world and your memories of it. As Johnny Klebitz, you play a gruff biker dude who if I’m honest, has very little personality beyond his stereotype. Apart from the fact he likes bikes and has a junky ex girlfriend, that’s it, so he isn’t all that likeable.

The game mostly consists of similar missions as in the original, which is fine, when you buy DLC you generally expect more of the same right? The bike controls are a little more polished, which is a good thing, since you’ll be stuck on a bike for most of the story. The variety of bikes is expanded on and while some of them are pretty nice looking, they generally have two sounds modern and whiney or old and chuggy.

Overall I found this initial DLC pack to be a little lacking in depth, it was fun but I wasn’t feeling all to bothered when it was over.

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The second DLC pack was ‘The Ballad of Gay Tony’ which despite its name, doesn’t have you playing a gay character. Instead you play his Hispanic bodyguard, Luis Fernando Lopez, helping Tony run his nightclubs and manage his ever increasing debt to various bad people. There is quite a lot of added content to this pack, new cars, new guns, new helicopter and some clothing options, although less than in the original.

While both packs have a selection of filler missions you can do outside of the main story, this pack seems to have hit more of the “fun” factor than the previous one. Sky diving missions, triathlon vehicle races and the more traditional drug wars. While I didn’t finish all of them I did enough to see they were fun and varied. As with the previous dlc pack, interwoven during the story are characters and alternate perspectives on missions you have played in the original game, with good effect.

I really liked the new guns and cars, while you can no doubt do most of the game with older guns and cars, for some reason these two aspects had the most impact for me. One of the characters, voiced by Persian born Commedian Omid Djalili who was called Yusef in the game, is the most fun to be around. He has ridiculous toys such as a gold plated attack helicopter (which you help steal), gold Rolls Royce lookalike and a gold plated Uzi, all of which he eventually gives you .

As with the original, I found the helicopter controls a little awkward, it is incredibly difficult to pilot the helicopter and aim at targets with the crosshair. I’ve played with helicopters in the past on a keyboard, such as battlefield games and they generally don’t feel this bad, while I can pilot just fine, its the missions involving shooting with the helicopter where it gets a bit clunky. When you’re using 8 fingers to pilot, needing two more to fire weapons, while trying to balance an unstable and twitchy cross hair on a moving target and not crash while doing it, that becomes a lesson in frustration, for me at least.

Aside from that niggle, I really enjoyed this dlc pack, it added a lot of content and variety to the gameplay. Both dlc packs are pretty cheap now so you would probably benefit from having both anyway, if you liked GTA IV. Out of the two though, The Ballad of Gay Tony is the best.

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