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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Rockstar Games
Developed By: Rockstar North
Genre: Compilation
Players: 1-8
Rated: M (Mature)
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Marcus Prunty

May 18, 2010 - Gun-toting bad guys never go out of style, and if you have ever played the Grand Theft Auto Series then you know that very well. Rockstar Games has a bankable franchise in GTA and keeps many millions of people coming back to the iconic cities of crime. Episodes from Liberty City is the downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto 4 game that was once released as an exclusive for the Xbox 360, but has finally made its way to the PlayStation 3 console and gives the player a chance to extend their GTA experience by jacking and shooting their way through Liberty City.

Episodes from Liberty City are packaged together on one blu-ray disc and include both The Lost & Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. For those who opt for the digital versions of these games, you can purchase them through the PlayStation Network separately for the price of $19.99 each. Unlike traditional DLC, you donít need to have a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 in your system in order to play the expansion packs. The gameplay experiences are not the only new things that come with this DLC; you get a lot of new music, radio stations, vehicles, weapons and multiplayer modes as well. This is not GTA IV Lite but a nice addition to GTA IV and an added 20 hours of gameplay minimum.

The Lost and Damned takes places in Liberty City during the same time as Niko is going wild in GTA IV. This time around you play as Johnny who is 2nd in command of the Lost; a biker gang that runs the streets of Liberty City, who has been running the gang while the leader Billy was locked down getting help. Once Billy is released and resumes as leader of the gang, he wants to dive head first into the drug trade to make some quick money. He and Johnny argue back and forth about this because he wants the Lost to be businessmen and not just drug traffickers. The Lost and Damned game will take you around 10 hours to beat and since most of this game is about a biker gang you spend most of your time in the game riding bikes. Now if youíre like me you didnít like riding the motorcycles in GTA IV and thank god Rockstar Games took pity on us and tweaked the way the bikes handled. It takes a lot to fall off your bike unless youíre in a mission and someone hits you with a baseball bat or something to knock you off. I literally drove probably a 100 miles an hour into a wall in order to get tossed. In GTA IV u can be driving slow and a car pull out in front of you and you get sent flying. So this tweak is very welcomed. This makes stealing a car as boring and tiresome seeing how it takes forever to get anywhere as opposed to when youíre on a chopper.

Johnny runs into Niko a few times in Lost and Damned as you get to see the other side of some missions from Johnnyís point of view. He also has several friends already and doesnít need to make any as there already there. So instead of having to build friendships like Niko did in GTA IV, you have to build up the battle toughness of your biker buds. As they help you in gang wars and other missions, they gain experience that increases their health and fighting ability. This comes into handy as a tried and tested battle bud makes missions and gang wars easier to win. However, should they die during one of the firefights then your battle tested bud will be replaced by someone new who doesnít have the experience to watch your back as well. So make sure you cover your buds and make them stronger because they will help u out greatly later as there are 25 gang wars to be won. Including the gang wars, you will also have missions to steal new bikes, and other odd jobs for various people across the city. Elizabetha returns in this DLC as a few other familiar faces.

The multiplayer also is back and is as good as the multiplayer in GTA IV itself. Thereís deathmatch, team deathmatch, and free mode and others that are designed for motorcycle centric Lost and Damned. My favorite one was ĎChopper versus Chopperí where one person is in a helicopter while the other person is on a bike and the helicopter guy tries to blow the hell out of the biker. Trying to run away from a helicopter while you race through checkpoints is fun and unnerving at times but gets the adrenaline running.

The next game in the Episodes from Liberty City is The Ballad of Gay Tony, which is more reminiscent of GTA IV as you drive mostly in cars and not motorcycles. In this game you are in control of Luis Lopez, who happens to work for the title character Tony Prince as they run night clubs both gay and straight all over the city. The bulk of your missions will take place in the wealthier side of Liberty City where you will recognize most of the places from GTA IV as youíre exploring and doing missions. You will do jobs for your boss Tony, who also seems like he wants in get into your pants most of the game. You will also work for as Yusuf Amir, a very wealthy guy who wants to go into business with Tony and then thereís the Russian mobster Bulgarian who is totally obsessed with owning the cityís hockey team called the Rampage. Why this guy would want to own a hockey team and go to the length of sending you in to strong arm the owner and take out a bunch of his guys makes him a bit nutty in my opinion but this is how the people in Liberty City are.

As Luis, you get to learn how to run a nightclub as well as kill and make more money in your spare time. Luis is very loyal to Tony so a lot of the jobs he will do are to help Tony make new friends or business partners or to cover his ass and get him out of a jam. Yusuf Amir; who in a drunken stupor with girls on his arms, wants to go into business with Tony opening night clubs all over the place so Luis helps him out with missions like stealing an army attack chopper as well as a subway train. Yusuf is very rich so working for him is very lucrative to both Luis and Tony.

The stealing of the helicopter isnít the first and only mission with helicopters in the game. As Lost and Damned had a lot of motorcycle missions, Ballad of Gay Tony has quite a few helicopter missions not; enough to dominate the whole game but enough to be annoying at times. The annoyance begins with air battles that you get into; one of which has you first stealing the attack helicopter for Yusuf, then wanting you to destroy the boat because those guys are arms dealers. So you turn around and use the guns and missiles of the helicopter to attempt to blow up the boat while they use missiles of their own to blow you out of the sky. The annoyance hits you then as there is no way to lock onto the boat so you have to adjust your pitch a lot to get the right height and angle in order to really shoot the boat. You will fail several times as you will either go too low and hit the water or u will get hit by too many of their missiles. Once you blow up the boat you then have to chase smaller speed boats as the arms dealers attempt to get away, which gives you more opportunities to crash into the water. But once you get the hang of the helicopters itís not as bad as it can be.

Once you establish yourself with Yusuf and further yourself in the game you get even bigger jobs and better toys to play with and when I mean toys I most definitely means weapons. There are newer pistols, machine guns as well as bombs. The one I liked the most was the sticky bombs that you can throw at things like vehicles and remote detonate them later so you donít get blown up. And thereís also a tank that you can get called the Noose tank, which is used by the police in the city. The Noose tank isnít a beast but itís definitely nice roaming the streets blowing up stuff with. Also like in Lost and Damned and GTA IV, there are lots of side missions and other fun things you can do that wont impact the main story if you choose not to do them all. In Ballad of Gay Tony you have base jumping challenges, as well as 25 Drug Wars to complete; similar to the Gang Wars in Lost and Damned. These drug wars harkens back to the old days when you use to run with your old friends before your big break with Tony lead you to a better life. Your friends are attempting to build their own cartel so you help them get more drugs as well as take out the competition.

There is a new feature in The Ballad of Gay Tony that you might like but I didnít too much care for and thatís a scoring system. It will rank the amount of damage you took, how long it took you to do the mission and other qualities of the mission. They are already a preset time for completing the mission and how much damage you deal out and/or receive. A lot of people finish the game and will replay levels in order to improve their score on a certain level. The reason they do this is because your score can be uploaded online to the leader boards and a lot of people play to impress. So if youíre into that, this gives you something to shoot for. As well as new mini games which include Maisonette 9 and champagne bottle battles where you try to out drink your opponent and then spray each other with champagne, or you can get your groove on the dance floor. If you dance right you get to take the lucky lady back to the womenís bathroom for more fun. The multiplayer for Ballad of Gay Tony is pretty basic; you have Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Race, GTA Race and Free Mode. The added weapons and faster cars make it fun and different.

Episodes from Liberty City closes out the GTA IV game very well in that you find out what happens at the end of certain missions you did in the original game. While the storylines of the DLC are not as grandiose and fulfilling as Niko Bellicís adventures in GTA IV, they are a great addition to the Liberty City world. When it comes to sound design the voice acting is awesome like it always is when it comes to Grand Theft Auto games. The new music as well radio stations that were added in the DLC are nicely done as well. The gameplay and level design is of a tried and true form in which Rockstar Games beautifully recreates the world of Liberty City full of fast cars, bikes, helicopters, and the over the top nutty people who insist you help them out. As always, when you play these games you get immersed in the people and the world which is Liberty City. The games can be purchased separate on PSN or together as well as in Retail stores. I would rate the Lost and Damned with an 8.5/10 and give Ballad of Gay Tony a 9/10.


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