When these first came out as DLC they were a couple of mighty fine additions to GTA IV. They added so much content that it extended the life of the core game almost indefinitely, in fact I still go back to the 360 and play free roam using The Lost and the Damned or the Ballad of Gay Tony content even now. Now PS3 owners have the chance to enjoy the 2 episodes as a stand-alone disc packed with as much content as the original DLC release at a decent price to boot.Story
Where to start, there are two main episodes and they both interweave into the core GTA IV story, the Lost and the Damned sees you playing a grizzled biker and working alongside some famous GTA IV faces as well as struggling with a bike gang that desperately needs a change of leadership. The Ballad of Gay Tony puts you squarely in the glitz and glamour of Liberty City's nightclub world, full of bars, old friends and new enemies. Both stories are spot on and explain events from GTA IV that you may have wondered about for a while.Gameplay
Things remain largely unchanged from the core GTA IV gameplay mechanics; there are now mid-mission saves for both Episodes and substantial additions to the arsenal of both Johnny and Luis respectively. There are new vehicles across both Episodes too and for the Lost and the Damned Rockstar have tweaked the bike handling to make things a lot easier to ride a Hog and look like a cool biker whilst doing so. In Lost you have access to the club house and there are new mini-games, friends and a gang mechanic for you to play around with. If your biker gang does well on missions and stays alive, members will level up and gain new weapons to play with.
If they die, they'll be placed on the Hall of Fame (or infamy) as little memorial plaques. You can call your buddies and get bikes or guns delivered to the field or club house. There are friends to take out drinking but the social aspect is not pushed into your face like in GTA IV, in Lost and Ballad you set the pace of how you want to do things. The true star of the Lost though is the bike gang mechanic that lets you ride as a posse through the streets and heal up mid-mission, listen to some chatter and basically pose on a powerful motorbike putting fear into the hearts of your enemies.
In Ballad you're Luis, Tony Prince's best guy, bodyguard, club manager and hitman all rolled into one smart-talking package. You get to do all of Tony's dirty work and meet a cast of colourful characters on the way. The mission structure is less gritty than Lost and there are some truly over the top missions that harkens back to San Andreas, and that's a good thing. There are night club management mini-game that's quite good and again, the Episode adds a lot of weapons content, vehicles and other goodness that's just not in GTA IV or Lost.
Both episodes are excellently produced and are in some ways better than the core GTA IV game experience, with the mass of new content, characters and control tweaks plus additions in single player (and multiplayer) they are worth the price of admission alone.
We have to draw your attention to one of the best features of the Ballad of Gay Tony, this is the parachute which substantially changes gameplay and lets you try out base jumping challenges. There are also a bunch of new guns, remote explosives, a new chopper (the Buzzard) and all of this seamless integrates into the game world. The explosive sniper rifle is in a word: awesome.Graphics
Lost has a gritty almost Noir feel provided by the film-grain washed out colour palette, sepia tone and dark, whilst Ballad is a brighter experience, Liberty City at her finest with neon lights and flashy clothes. Both Episodes use the same (but tweaked) version of GTA IV's core graphics engine which means it's capable of some nice draw distances with very little pop-up and texture problems. The use of lighting and shadow in Lost works perfectly to draw you into the seedy world of the bikers whilst Ballad puts a smile on your face when you see Liberty City all lit up at night.