88After playing Grand Theft Auto IV for the first time, the first thing I said to myself was, “You know what this game needs?  More drugs, violence and storylines!”

Of course, this was clearly an exercise of sarcasm as Grand Theft Auto IV was a perfect representation of how to develop a game.  Yet, it seems that the people at Rockstar went ahead and fulfilled my request anyway with their release of Episodes from Liberty City.

Publisher: Rockstar
Developer: Rockstar North
Oct. 29, 2009

This stand-alone title, available for around $40, allows veterans and new fans of the series to play the add-ons for GTA IV, the critically acclaimed Lost and the Damned and the highly anticipated release of The Ballad of Gay Tony, without actually having to own a copy of the original game.  This set-up is perfect for those who played Grand Theft Auto IV as a rental or just never bothered to download the additional episodes, combined with the drop of The Ballad of Gay Tony and a fair price (costing as much as downloading the two separate add-ons in the Xbox Live Marketplace) make Episodes from Liberty City a very intriguing title heading into the holiday season.

First, let’s briefly go over The Lost and the Damned before we focus on The Ballad of Gay Tony and then review the complete package of Episodes of Liberty City as a whole.  (For our more in-depth review of The Lost and the Damned, check out this link). The Lost and the Damned allows players to take control of Johnny Klebitz, a member of the biker gang called The Lost.  Johnny, vice president of the club, is tasked with spending most of his time fixing the mistakes of the president, Billy, who has been in rehab for narcotics possession for a long while.  Of course, upon the release of Billy from rehab, the club is divided by those who prefer Johnny as their leader and those who prefer Billy.  Now, players must find a way to reunite the club, while also dealing with controlling Billy’s out-of-control behavior, gang wars, jail raids and other craziness.  Like The Ballad of Gay Tony, The Lost of the Damned has plenty of mini games and multiplayer modes unique to the add-on.  By itself, The Lost and the Damned is worth downloading due to its unique story and decent amount of gameplay, but how will it look when combined with another add-on?

The Ballad of Gay Tony is the newest release from the folks at Rockstar, which will be available both in downloadable and hardcopy format as found in Episodes From Liberty City, which we’ve been focusing on in this article.  This add-on has a completely different vibe than the previously described The Lost and the Damned episode, which should not really come as a surprise.  Instead of being centered around the gritty activities and conflicts of a biker gang, The Ballad of Gay Tony focuses on the not-so-glamorous life behind the velvet ropes and glitz of the Liberty City club scene.

Players take control of Luis Lopez, a juvenile delinquent turned club-owner body guard.  Luis is introduced as Gay Tony’s (AKA Tony Price) confidant, muscle and eventual business partner.  Of course, coming from a childhood of crime and mischief, Luis has plenty of profitable and questionable connections and opportunities with his life back home as well.  Throughout the game, Mr. Lopez will have to deal with the struggles of balancing business with family in order to become the biggest success he can be.  Plenty of in-game decisions will have to be made by the player, so be prepared to have to make some moral choices as you try to make it to the top.

The Ballad of Gay Tony begins with a funky intro; the term “funky” meaning filled with 70’s and 80’s style of music, complete with synthesizers and heavy bass slaps…. not strange or odorous.  Anyway, the point is that The Ballad of Gay Tony lets you know right from the start that this episode is not like any other Grand Theft Auto title that you’ve seen.  This installment will be filled with a new level of flamboyancy and classiness that players have only gotten mere tastes of in the previous games.  However, rest assured that there are plenty of drugs, swearing, murders and conflicts in this episode, which will surely keep the GTA purists satisfied to a reasonable extent.

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About The Author

Chase Gharrity is a Blast Games correspondent.

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