Jan 112012
 




Grand Theft Auto IV: Episode from Liberty City
THE LOST AND THE DAMNED

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Not having played a Grand Theft Auto game since GTA: San Andreas, I was a bit unsure what to expect from GTA IV and it’s Episodes from Liberty City. With a love for motorcycles, I decided to ignore the main game for the time being and jump straight into The Lost and Damned from Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City. My one apprehension was that we’d be revisiting the city from GTA 3 and, to be quite honest, I’m not a huge fan of the bleak, grey, washed out New York city environment. However,  I decided I should be open minded about the whole affair and jump right in.

I must make you aware that I played this game on the PC with a Xbox 360 Controller for Windows and it works a treat.

The game opened with the return of Billy Grey, the president of a motorcycle gang called The Lost MC. Billy had been into rehab for his heroin addiction after getting caught for a crime and luckily escaped jailtime by opting to get clean of his habit. With his return, he demands to know where his beloved motorbike is and it is here we are introduced to Johnny Klebitz, the character which we control for the rest of the game. Johnny belongs to The Lost MC and is put in charge of recovering Billy’s chopper which rival gang Angels stole. Riding from the Club House to the Angel’s yard was fun. The bike handles a treat and the engine sounds gorgeous. Like a real cruiser and chopper, it is near impossible to pull a wheelie and they have a certain sluggish tug about them due to the weight of the motorcycle distributed to undeneath the rider. Later on you’ll get to ride other bikes which you’ve stolen, collected for Angus or requested from Clay and you will notice the difference in the handling. The sports bikes and streetfighters like the Double T accelerate like a dream and feel much lighter than their cruiser cousins, much like real life. Plus they move like shit off a shovel and you can pull mega wheelies on them ;)

The storyline focuses on the Lost MC and how Johnny disagrees with Billy’s attitude towards the club and his decisions to start wars with rival gangs. Throughout the course of the game you can receive backup from biker brothers Clay and Terry, who can be contacted via your mobile phone. This is one of the new additions to GTA IV. Your mobile phone can be used to take photographs, receive text messages from associates and to send and receive phone calls. You can use it to call for a bike to be delivered by Clay, for Terry to park his gun van nearby so you can buy guns and armour from him and for Jim, another biker bro, to deliver a requested gun to the club house. Others can also be rung for jobs, such as Angus who will ask you to pick up bikes to export, and politician Stubbs, who enjoys getting you to do his dirty work. Finally, you can ring Terry and Clay to go out socialising, whether it be playing air hockey at the local bowling alley, a game of pool, darts, a boozing session or a lap dance. The choice is yours, but make sure to socialise with them as this improves the relationship status with your chapter brothers and is a necessity to get to 100% completion.

Around the city, which is indeed a bit drab, are hot dog and nuts stalls. These can be visited morning, noon and night and will award you with a full bill of health should you part way with a handful of dollars for the vendor’s tasty snack. At night time in Liberty City, the city centre lights up and this is truly breathtaking. The neon signs will captivate you as you search around for a Burger Shot fast-food restaurant, which is much easier to find at night than in the daytime. Other places to discover include the Comedy Club, where Brit comedians Frankie Boyle and Ricky Gervais are performing onstage. You can actually go inside and watch a show of these guys performing. Another addition to the GTA IV series is that of the internet. Yes, you cannot escape it. Even on a videogame you can ‘log on’. There is a computer in the club house as well as internet cafes dotted around the city where you can access the internet to read emails, look for love and read the amusing websites featured on there. To ensure absolute authenticity, you get harassed with an inbox full of spam mail offering penis enlargements and requests to deposit money from Ghana in exchange for your bank details. Rockstar, the developers of GTA, do love their humour and it can be seen everywhere in Libery City, from the radio shows with the infamous Lazlo and Fernando  to the advertisements positioned around the streets.

The main missions in the game mostly focus around riding to a destination, getting setup by your associates, battling your way out of their then escaping. When compared to The Ballad of Gay Tony, the other episode from Liberty City,  the missions are quite monotonous, but are still fun for those who enjoy biking.
As with all GTA games, you are able to roam the city and take part in various side missions, such as the motorcycle races, where you are armed with a baseball bat to knock your opponents off their bikes to give you an advantage. Biker gang wars are also available to participate in, where you are aided by your Lost MC chums to take down the rival clubs.

The Lost and Damned is a fun game for those who want to re-enact being in a biker gang, like in the hit tv show Sons of Anarchy, with plenty of two wheeled beasties to ride, however I feel there’s a bit of variety missing in the missions and the characters feel a bit too two dimensional for my tastes. It’s still better than a lot of other games out there and worth a play for bike enthusiasts and GTA fans alike.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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