Monday, April 18, 2011

Game Diary: Return to Liberty City

I've managed to finish quite a few games and get a nice variety of reviews up on the site over the last few weeks, and I'm trying to keep this momentum going at the moment. Ghostbusters and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands were both rentals from Lovefilm and they both lend themselves to this quite nicely as they can both be finished within around ten hours. Usually if I hang onto a game from Lovefilm for too long then I start to feel that I'm wasting money, so it was good to turn these around within a week of receiving them and still feel like I had played them thoroughly enough to be able to critique them.

After finishing PoP, I felt like starting another new game, and turned to The Backloggery for help. If you haven't heard of this site, it is somewhere that you can enter your game collection and then log your progress in games, keeping tracking of what you've beaten and completed as well as how large your backlog is. I've managed to build up quite huge pile of unfinished games over the last few years, so the fortune cookie feature of the site is quite a useful tool. Basically you can use it to randomly suggest a game from your own collection for you to play. I tried this last week and it came up with Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, which is a double pack of the two DLC packs that were released for GTA IV: The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony.

I decided to try The Ballad of Gay Tony first, which sees you playing as Luis Lopez, business partner to Tony Prince, the owner of two Liberty City nightclubs. By borrowing money from some thugs with mafia connections, Tony has managed to get the both of you in a whole heap of trouble and the rest of the game is spent basically trying to dig you out of this mess. Suffice to say though, things don't go according to plan and things get a whole lot worse before they get better. Those who have played GTA IV will have noticed how much more restrained it was compared with the craziness of San Andreas, and The Ballad of Gay Tony brings back a lot of the outlandish missions and ridculous characters that populated the PS2 titles. You will be tasked with blowing up a ship with a military helicopter, stealing a railway car, and throwing a blogger from a helicopter before parachuting out and saving him before he hits the ground.

There's a decent amount of content here at around 10 hours for the main story missions and a whole lot more if you want to complete the required quota of drug wars side missions, manage the nightclub (and perform favours for spoiled celebrities), enter a cage fighting tournament, base jump from 15 locations around the city, and finally kill a whole lot of seagulls. Doing all this will easily double the amount of time spent on this game - I have only bothered to complete the drug wars side missions so far and that in itself took hours. Of course this is only half of what Episodes from Liberty City has to offer - I intend to begin the other half, The Lost and the Damned this evening. You don't need to own the full version of GTA IV by the way, Episodes runs from the disc as a standalone title.

I probably won't write a full review of this title as I think I've covered all the pertinent information here, but if I were to give it a score it would definitely get a solid 8. The shorter nature of these two DLC offerigns is quite appealing, as the main entries in the GTA series have never managed to sustain my interest long enough for me to complete one. I still have my Super Mario Galaxy review coming, and I will see what Lovefilm has in store for me next in a day or two. In the meantime, I'll be causing mayhem around Liberty City with Johnny Klebitz and The Lost biker gang.

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