It's amazing how the journey of
Theft Auto (GTA) has unravelled in the world of gaming and what
began as top view game is now a fully fledged 3D world that is a
true sandbox experience for the 21st century gamer.
Of course GTA IV
changed the face of gaming as players embarked on a journey with Niko Bellic and although the game was quite visually
the story for some was a little too serious and not everyone could
relate to this thug from Eastern Europe.
Of course with such as a great gaming
engine, this moved onto the next chapter which included Billy Grey, a member of biker gang who
after being released from prison found his beloved city of
Liberty City in turmoils. And moving on from Billy, the next and
latest installment focuses on Luis Lopez and his business partner
Tony Prince in Grand Theft Auto: the Ballad of Gay Tony.
With the release of
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes of Liberty City, it includes the original
DLC of The Lost and Damned plus a new addition with the Ballad of
Gay Tony. Best of all, you don't need GTA IV to play these add-ons
and even if you have never played the previous games, both these
episodes are included in one wholesome DVD.
The Lost and the
The story revolves Billy Grey, the
president of the Lost Motorcycle Club who returns to the world after
spending time in rehabilitation. Unfortunately when Billy
returns, he discovers that his club has turned into a professional
criminal organisation and their gang arch rivals, The Angels of Death
now have a strong truce with them.
Billy is a traditionalist biker with
old school motivations and values and this new direction for the club doesn't sit
too well with him which creates an uneasy tension with interim president
Johnny. It's a classic Grand Theft Auto storyline that features strong
social commentary about a variety of issues within the United States.
Of course, the classic gameplay of the series still remains,
however where this current game does shine is through the characters,
the story and good old fashioned action that in my opinion, makes this a
more entertaining game than Grand Theft Auto IV. Unlike the
aforementioned game, the characters in The Lost and the Damned are more
relatable and realistic than the ultra violent, clichéd and gruff Niko.
In its essence, the game is a true sandbox game that allows you to
explore almost every facet of this fictional gaming city that contains a
plethora of entertaining missions from easy to some quite difficult. Add
in a wide gamut of mini-games that are all linked to the well scripted
story and feeling the hum of the "Harley" really lets you get lost in
this decent game.
The mini-games in the title are quite fun
and involve activities like arm wrestling and even a Tetris clone which helps spice
up the main gameplay or just gives you that entertaining break. Although
some may see the Lost and the Damned a carbon copy of GTA IV as you are
playing in the same city, I tend to differ as it's a different
perspective on this interactive world, told from the perspective of
these rough and tough bikers that don't take no for an answer.
elements that made GTA so strong are still present in the title from
police chases to taking out competitors in some most unusual ways that
when matched with the sandbox approach, it's almost up to the gamer and
gives you a sense of ownership to what and when you want to do things.
The developers have fixed some of the complaints from the
previous game with the introduction of new checkpoints during missions
which means you don't have to start from scratch again which is
definitely the way the series should have started.
Once you have finished the single-player game which should take most
gamers between 15 - 20 hours to successfully complete, it's time to take
on multiplayer aspect. Rockstar have ensured that this is still a strong
suite of the franchise and have added a new mode called Lone Wolf Biker
that has the gamer playing against a team of gamers. Chopper vs Chopper
is another great addition that lets gamers challenge each other with
bikes and helicopters, you really need to see it in action to appreciate
it. Of course, there's the classic Team Deathmatch and some other
enjoyable multiplayer games that almost makes this more than just an
Of course, with that said... ladies and
gentlemen, I introduce you Gay Tony!
The Ballad of Gay Tony
As mentioned, gamers play Luis Lopez, another shady yet likeable
underworld character and unlike Niko Bellic, Lopez is considerably
more likeable and more entertaining to watch and play. Although
Lopez has spent time in prison, his main problem is his loyalty to
friends which generally get him involved in all sorts of mischief
and like previous GTA instalments, the main issues are to assist
others in the game and if political correctness is your middle name, you
might want to get your gaming kicks from elsewhere.
Add in a
variety of colourful characters and some really fun and at times
frustrating missions and The Ballad of Gay Tony is righteous romp
through the criminal underworld. As the game is relatively short, we
managed to finish the game in just under 10 hours, however there are a
plethora of more side missions that we did not complete which would
easily add another 5 or so hours on top of this.
of the missions in the game are key segments of the plot but
needless to say, if you enjoyed previous GTA instalments, this game
will bring a big fat smile to your face, especially base jumping!
Some of the stunts in the game are quite outrageous which involves
parachutes, motorbikes and the like. Apart from the main missions,
there are drug war challenges to engage that also help give the
gamer a break from the main theme of the title as you assist these
shady underworld criminals in their illegal trafficking.
Of course, if you are
connected to XBox Live, your mission scores are also uploaded to this
server but best of all, you can replay missions in order to boost up
those scores which definitely increases the replay value, especially
considering that the missions are do damn fun, it's almost a given.
multiplayer fun, the title does allow gamers to take The Ballad of
Gay Tony online with Free Play, Deathmatch and even Races with
glorious nitro. As with GTA IV, The Ballad of Gay Tony contains
some fun mini-games such as dancing or even a drinking competition
which adds to the almost realistic environment of the game.
other words, you're not locked (unless your on a mission) and this
free time is definitely fun as you explore the world that you are
playing and even find a few secrets. As you work the clubs, you
also need to ensure that peace is kept within your premises such as
"bouncing" out patrons or like GTA IV, helping patrons escape the
The developers have added some interesting new weaponry into
the game such as sticky bombs which are too addictively fun to use or the
automatic shotgun that makes gun battles a little bit more exciting.
Of course the old weaponry in the game still remain but with the
inclusion of new firepower, it definitely moves the game away from
just a stock standard addon and you can really tell the love that
Rockstar have put into this game. I must admit that using the new
weapons online is a blast and of course, there are already those
gamers who have mastered these guns.
Graphically, the series still holds up well with some great gaming
environments that look quite realistic that is matched with great
looking weather effects and nice lighting. The characters are well
animated and the physics of the game works well that goes hand in
hand with the gameplay and sound. The voice acting in the game is
brilliant and all the actors really get into their characters but
the winner is definitely "Gay" Tony who truly has some of
lines in the game. Add in the great soundtrack of the GTA series and
those wonderful radio stations and this is
definitely one decent sounding game.
At the end of the day, this is easily the most fun we've had since
GTA III and although Niko Bellic was a little lackluster as the
central character, Lopez provides that carefree attitude who will be
more relatable to the broader audience. Even our biker is fun to
play and we must commend Rockstar for putting both these episodes on
one disc. The humour in both episodes are worth every penny and if you're a fan of this
series or thinking to pick the series up, than we would happily
recommend this game and best of all it links to everything that came
Of course, it's
worth playing to see what happened to those pesky diamonds!