Grand Theft Auto 4: Episodes From Liberty City
Once The Hubbub died down and people stopped (rightly) grumbling about inadequate performance, Games for Windows - LIVE! integration and the irksome Rockstar Social Club, people saw Grand Theft Auto IV was a great game. The closest games have come to recreating an authentic-feeling, huge city. Not just authentic in its design, but authentic in its vibrant atmosphere, an effect achieved through the actions of its pedestrians right down to the detailed and carefully considered ambient sound effects. It was an absolute triumph of design.
So yes, it was a great game and, as with so many such great games that sell ridiculous amounts, it's been blessed by extra material, namely the two new episodes: The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Both of which, naturally, were feverishly received as yet more proof of the original game's godlike status. And from March, we PC gamers be able to take a more reasoned view of the new episodes.
Like your usual expansions, the Episodes don't feature any vast changes to what went before. You're going to get more of what you had before, but this time you're getting it with the usual Rockstar flair and panache.
There's even a bit of controversy to be getting on with too, with fans of full frontal male nudity in for a treat In general, both expansions bring the same sort of thing to the table, but let's have a look at the specifics.
The Lost and the Damned came first and brought a slew of new weapons to GTA4: grenade launchers, automatic pistols and a broken pool cue add to the fun. It also adds a new protagonist: Johnny Klebitz, a member of The Lost Motorcycle Club. His tale is one of loyalty, betrayal and riding on bikes listening to extreme metal (see Cavalera Conspiracy).
You'll be doing this for a relatively long time too, as there's around 10-15 hours worth of play here, not including the new multiplayer modes, of which Chopper vs Chopper looks to be the most interesting one. Perhaps taken straight from the Multi -Theft Auto mod series, this is where one guy in a helicopter chases another on a bike, attempting to prevent the latter from getting through a set of checkpoints.
The second episode is The Ballad of Gay Tony, which also introduces a new protagonist, one Mr Luis Fernando Lopez. I Like The Lost. Ballad's storyline is extensive and sometimes interweaves with that of the original game. For example, this one starts out with your Character, a member of the Dominican drug cartel and bodyguard of the titular Gay Tony, trapped in the bank Niko Bellic robs, Heatstyle, in the middle of the main game's plot.
As well as the new story, a few other things were either introduced or brought back from previous games, such as the base jumping from San Andreas or the ability to replay missions to achieve a better score (the first time this has appeared in the series since GTA: Chinatown Wars). Other than that and a few new mini-games, the main change was to make the game a bit more lighthearted, again returning to the San Andreas/Vice City way of doing things.
One of the criticisms of the original Grand Theft Auto 4 was that it was bipolar - a serious story mixed into the ludicrous, comical world of Grand Theft Auto. Gay Tony leans more to the latter side of things and will be a bit of light relief for players.
When all's said and done, it's just a question of how well the Episodes will be transported to the PC, rather than how good they're going to be. We know how good they are from playing the console releases, but the PC release is usually the definitive version, with better visuals, radio options and such. We'd like to think Rockstar have learned plenty of lessons from the debacle of GTA4's original PC release, hoping this gets a much smoother introduction to our beloved platform. Nobody wants the memory of GTA4 to be soured permanently by a shoddy port, so it's important Rockstar do their creation justice and give us something to remember it fondly by.
Download Grand Theft Auto 4: Episodes From Liberty City
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP