I think this was the last actual retail expansion pack for a game I know of. Am I right? Was there anything after this? Downloadable content completely killed off this market, what do you think? Back in the day almost every successful game eventually got a mission pack. Now what we get is small bits and pieces as paid downloads that seem to have been axed from the base game. But usually no comprehensive new campaigns. If you ask me I'd gladly trade the DLC era for the expansion pack era.
But enough of the reminiscing, let's talk about GTAIV:EFLC - That's a mouthful.
I could repeat many of the things I've written about GTA IV, but I'll try to keep redundancy to a minimum, so if you haven't already, read that review first.
Actually Episodes From Liberty City is two add-ons in one. We get the Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Two entirely separate campaigns, and the two couldn't be any more different than they are.
The Lost and the Damned has a much more serious tone. If you're familiar with the TV Show Sons of Anarchy, then you'll feel right at home in this one. Since you're taking on the role of the second in command in a biker gang. And the similarities to the tv show are just beginning there.
On the other hand Ballad of Gay Tony brings back the mood of older GTAs like Vice City, and GTAIII, with much more emphasis on fun. While the story is serious, some characters and the situations you find yourself in are often hilarious. Here you take on the role of the "muscle" with your business partner who is a gay night club owner. As far as gay characters go, this is not the usual stereotypical kind.
It's true to both mission packs that the characters are much better and more developed than those in GTAIV. They're not the two bit thugs that are in there.
It's also a nice touch that sometimes you find yourself in missions from the base game, on the other side, or as a spectator.
The missions are more enjoyable in both of them. I was actually interested in the story of the Lost and the Damned, and had loads of fun with The Ballad Of Gay Tony.
Towards the end TLAD got a bit dry, and the biking got boring (I'm more of a cage guy) so I didn't mind it when it finally ended. On the other hand TBOGT I could've played on for a long time, especially after you get the swat tank, and the rifle with the explosive bullets.
I felt that the two campaigns combined gave about half the gameplay time of GTAIV, which is way more than any DLC I played ever offered.
Another difference compared to the base game is that there are real side missions, not just some very basic activities. You can do one side mission after every main story mission and still don't run out of them before you finish the story. So that's good. Unfortunately they're not that interesting after a while, so after wrapping up the story, I didn't have much motivation to finish all side missions.
They put in a few new radio stations to the game which is a welcome relief for me, because I didn't fancy any of the music in the base game. The new ones I can actually listen to. I didn't have to switch to independence fm all the time. Also some old channels got some new content as well, like Integrity, so it's worth a listen again.
All is left is the accounting of pros and cons,
- Vehicle handling and physics
- There are real side missions that are actually enjoyable
- Funnier missions and cutscenes
- New weapons and many new vehicles
- Now, you can restart just the last leg of the mission you failed.
- Could've been longer
- A little more challenge wouldn't hurt
- Now, you can restart just the last leg of the mission you failed. But if you don't have enough ammo/armor you still have to start from scratch.
It easily deserves a strong 8/10 score. The game was already pretty good, but this is where the story and the characters have also risen to the appropriate level. I think overall this is better than GTA V as well.