After what must have seemed like a monumental wait, PS3 (and PC) gamers can finally get their hands on Rockstar's GTA 4 episodes, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. The two full campaigns can be bought together as part of the Episodes from Liberty City standalone game or as separate downloads (for those who own GTA 4) from the PlayStation Store. Seeing as we've already covered both episodes in detail for their Xbox 360 release, we've picked out the most important information and delivered it to you below. To our eyes you're getting close to the exact same games that Xbox 360 owners experienced last year.
The Lost and Damned
The Lost and Damned casts you as biker Johnny Klebitz, vice president of Liberty City's motorcycle gang The Lost. At the start of the game you cruise through the streets of Liberty City with your gang before meeting up with president and all round nut job Billy Grey. He's spent a considerable amount of time in rehab, during which Johnny has run things. On his return things understandably get a little heated as Billy takes over command and asks Johnny to do some things he's not all that willing to do.
Rockstar has quite brilliantly integrated the new storyline into that of GTA 4, with numerous crossovers with significant moments in last year's game, returning characters and more. While The Lost only played a relatively small part in GTA 4, with Johnny making more appearances than the other members, those of you who finished the game will know that he's a fairly significant character. What goes on here fits pretty seamlessly into the overall story (although why the city is free to roam from the off isn't explained) and gives you a lot more background info on Johnny as a character.
Aside from your improved motorcycle, which corners far better than those in GTA 4, it's more or less business as usual here. There are a handful of new weapons, including the quite brilliant grenade launcher, automatic pistol and automatic shotgun, and Johnny seems a little tougher to kill than Niko, but the big difference comes from your gang. Many missions see you fighting alongside other members of The Lost (you can call a few of them up for assistance), who can increase their battle readiness by fighting alongside you. It's a basic form of levelling up, but gives you more of a sense of being part of a gang and not just teaming up with throwaway NPCs.
Something that's likely to be a bit hit and miss is the implementation of formation riding. When travelling from location to location with your gang you're able to ride over a gang emblem to replenish health, as a reward for keeping your bike in the right place within the gang. Staying on the emblem for long enough isn't all that hard, but trying to ride alongside NPC riders is very tricky indeed. When you're following someone to a destination you don't know which direction they're going to turn until the last minute, causing your bike to either come to a screeching halt or an ill-advised sharp turn into whoever is riding next to you. Other riders tend to react to things too late, pay no attention to other vehicles that might be blocking their path and frequently mount the curb - something that stood out as something of an oversight during the otherwise impressive opening cutscene.
With The Lost and Damned Rockstar has jumped straight in with the all-action missions. There are still a few generic fetch/delivery missions, but for the most part you'll be blasting members of rival gangs or taking on cops. There's even a series of turf war shoot outs, similar to those seen in the Saints Row games, adding some very enjoyable padding to the story and giving you a chance to level up your gang members. If you're into these kinds of things there are also a few new mini-games, although we'd recommend you avoid the table hockey.
Storytelling in The Lost and Damned is also of an exceedingly high standard, with Rockstar once again showing the rest of the industry how it should be done. While we prefer Niko over Johnny as a leading character, the quality of acting here is top notch, perhaps even better than it was in the original, and the tension within the gang is portrayed exceedingly well.
The additions to the soundtrack are superb, the new content on the TV is brilliant and there's even a new comedian performing at the comedy club, although probably not as well known as Ricky Gervais. On top of this there are numerous new multiplayer modes, including what we can only describe as online multiplayer Road Rash, complete with baseball bats.