After Grand Theft Auto IV whetted the appetite for all current-generation sandbox games, Rockstar went back to the well of Liberty City with Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City.
“Episodes” is actually two separate games and while they are considered DLC’s or expansion packs to GTA IV, both function as standalone titles. In GTA IV the main characters for both games had cameos so it didn’t feel like a brand new game. In addition to the familiarity of the characters, both Episodes feature interweaving stories and include replaying select levels from GTA IV, albeit from a different character’s point of view.
The Lost and the Damned (TLAD) was the first of the two DLC’s. It focuses on an outlaw motorcycle gang known as The Lost (resembling the real-life Outlaw MC) and their war against The Angels of Death (resembling the real-life Hells Angels).
Having the main characters as bikers meant a lot more work was put into motorcycle physics and mechanics since you spend the majority of your time driving these vehicles. New mini-games and new locations throughout Liberty City open up and on the multi-player part of the game, new modes have been created.
After TLAD comes The Ballad of Gay Tony (BOGT). Just like TLAD, this game takes place during the events of GTA IV. Anthony “Gay Tony” Prince may be the title character, but you play as his right hand man and bodyguard, Luis Fernando Lopez.
While GTA IV and TLAD are given a more gritty and somewhat depressing feel to them, BOGT is the polar opposite. Set in the upper crust of Liberty City, Luis has access to things like helicopters, military-grade weaponry all from the beginning. Parts of the two other stories are further explained as Luis makes his way through Liberty’s high society and even more mini-games including an underground fight club are now available.
Rather than "Episodes" simply being a rehashing of GTA IV, which would have been fine, these two games compliment the original and actually are one of the rare DLCs that make the game feel complete and not just tacked on. With "Episodes" available both as standalone games and as part of the GTA IV story, it’s enjoyable no matter the order you play the games in.