Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City User Review
The first of the episodes is called ‘The Lost and the Damned’ (TLatD). In it, you are Johnny ‘the Jew’ Klebitz, a veteran member of the Lost Motorcycle Club. It follows two conflicts, the first being between the Lost, and the other MC, The Angels of Death. The other is the butting of heads between Johnny and the head of his chapter, Billy Grey, who seems determined to derail all of the good that Johnny had done for the club while Billy was incarcerated.
The other ‘The Ballad of Gay Tony’ (TBoGT) is about Luis Lopez, bodyguard and business partner of the biggest nightclub entrepreneur in Liberty City, Tony Prince. During the timeframe of this episode, they are struggling with debts, and with half of the city wanting them dead for various reasons. I felt that this was the better of the two, yet the story was far less memorable.
Both of them are short, with the campaigns being able to be completed in under ten hours. Because of this, they require a far faster build, and so use characters that are already established in Liberty City. This is a double edged sword, as it is difficult to care about any of the characters, yet it makes them feel more fun, both of which are important aspects to me. They also follow the standard GTA formula, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is certainly getting tired for anyone who has played more than a few of the games. The quick pacing also lets down the titles as it doesn’t really allow for an appropriate build.
On par with GTAIV graphically, I have given them a lower score here as after a year and a half I was expecting to have seen some improvement. I know that it is not fair of me, given that they are simply downloadable content, but I was, nevertheless, let down. It wasn’t necessary to have a huge improvement, but just a little bit would have been good. That being said, Liberty City is still as vibrant and engrossing as ever, as are the character animations. The acting in the cut scenes has been improved, which makes the characters that little bit more believable. TLatD appears to have a kind of blur filter over the entire game, darkening it. It works, as it gives it a gritty feeling, but it’s not something that I would like to see done very often.
The sound, like in the parent game, is where the production shines. Once again the voice acting is top notch (I marked out when I heard Yusuf Amif… seriously, Omid Djalili is funny as), with none that feel as though they don’t belong to the characters. I thought that much of the pedestrian dialogue was recycled from GTA IV, though I may be mistaken. Not a bad thing, but it does bring it down a little bit. The ambient sounds are as good as ever, and of special note is the radio. Some of the stations have been removed, while others have been added. Also, the entire soundtrack has been redone, with only the ads returning to the stations. A whole new set of music, and talk show segments are on show here, and I firmly believe that the soundtrack is better than that of the main game. But then, I may be biased by the presence of songs by AC/DC, Terence Trent D’Arby, John Farnham and Bon Jovi.
The controls remain largely unchanged, although I felt as though the driving physics had been reworked, making it much easier to control them, and also making it far more difficult to fall from a motorbike. Other than that, all of the pesky, niggling issues that I had with the control scheme from GTA IV remain.
The gameplay on show here on is far more diverse than what was seen in GTA IV, particularly when it comes to TBoGT. Adding in on-rails shooting segments, parachuting, and more chase scenes, as well as other pieces, as well as the shooting galleries present in the main game made everything feel more fresh. The inclusion of mid-mission checkpoints certainly help to make the game more playable, as there is no longer the need to do a certain annoying part of every mission over and over unless you are constantly dying before that checkpoint. This is a godsend, as due to the increased difficulty, you will be dying a lot more than you ever did in the parent game. Add to this the new, and ridiculously overpowered weaponry, and it becomes all the more appealing. We see the return of the hidden package system, as well as the friends system. And we also see the reintroduction of serious side missions. These range from races to turf wars, drug wars and base jumps. They are each tempting in their own way and help to flesh out the experience and give the games more longevity.
As I said above, each of the two episodes is rather easy to beat in under ten hours. Even so, this is double the length of the single player experience of many of the games on the market, even if it doesn’t quite match up to what is expected from Grand Theft Auto. The side missions are incredibly fun and doing them can easily pad out the game to expanding beyond fifteen hours apiece, and if you want to attain 100%, you will be playing for far longer. The increased fun factor offered by these titles also entices you to play over them again, which is a good thing. I can only hope that Rockstar takes what they have added here, and in Red Dead Redemption to make the next GTA worthy of the perfect tens that the franchise is known for.
These two titles are both shorter, sharper versions of GTA. Yet, they manage to tell a complete story without leaving you feeling shortchanged. To be completely honest, it would be an interesting way for the next major release to be formed. You see, having numerous interwoven stories is a plot device that I enjoy seeing, and this is precisely what was done here. It allows for a stronger narrative to shine in that the writer/s doesn’t/don’t necessarily have to spend a long time detailing each new character as they are introduced. At the same time, it often lacks an emotional strength because you can never really bond with many of the characters. Giving us say, six interrelated stories, each one lasting at least ten hours, would give the consumer a lot more bang for their buck, as they would feel as though you have six entirely different campaigns, and this would further aid the narrative in being able to restrict the story to one area for each, rather than needing it to branch out across the entire expanse of whatever the next GTA city is. It truly is a double edged sword, but whichever way Rockstar Games chooses to take the series, I wait for it with great anticipation, as I know that it is synonymous with quality, if being often overrated.
In conclusion, if you enjoyed GTA IV, or Red Dead Redemption, you will very likely feel similarly towards what is on show here. If you did not, then there is really nothing that will convince you otherwise. I would recommend for you to at least try them, as I felt that in terms of being games, they are better than GTA IV.
Thankyou for your time and I hope that you found my words to be both informative and helpful. Until next time PSXE, Peace and Law be with you.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.