Tech News on G4
March 3, 2009
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
Rockstar sure knows how to give its DLC some real TLC.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned is without a doubt some of the best downloadable content to come out in a long time and definitely worth the price of admission.
Set in the same Liberty City that players visited while controlling Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV, The Lost and Damned ('TLAD') is a completely separate story featuring brand new characters - all of which for the most part are more engaging than anyone from the original game's storyline.
'TLAD' storyline follows members of The Lost Motorcycle Club, with the gamer controlling Johnny Klebitz, righthand man of The Lost's leader, Billy Grey. The story begins with Billy being released from prison, making himself out to be a changed man in front of his parole officer. It takes him all of 10 minutes to be downing shots in a dingy bar with his Lost comrades, talking about getting back his old motorcycle so he can cause trouble. Though Billy is the leader of the Lost, Johnny is the focus of the story. It's obvious there's some bad blood between him and Billy, and this is where the meat of the story takes us.
Those expecting anything radically different from what they experienced in GTA IV's main story are sure to be disappointed. In terms of gameplay, this is basically GTA IV but with a new, shorter story. You'll still be going from mission to mission, completing tasks for other characters, but the missions are all wrapped around such an engaging narrative that you'll feel compelled to continue on, despite the living, breathing world of Liberty City always there to do whatever you want with.
For those who want to play through the main storyline without actually following the plot, the missions themselves are varied enough that they should keep gamers plowing through. The first few missions are nothing more than shoot-'em-up gang wars, but things get much more interesting as the story progresses and you meet new characters, most of which are looking for Johnny to do their dirty work. One mission you'll have to survive a drug deal gone wrong in a shady apartment building, the next you'll be taking out a convoy of drug dealers at a toll station, while yet another you'll be riding shotgun on a motorcycle, protecting your driver from wave after wave of police officers with a semi-automatic weapon. There aren't a ton of watercooler moments, but you'll appreciate the few that are sprinkled throughout. And as always with an open-ended game like GTA, often you'll make your own watercooler moments without even trying.
For the most part, missions aren't overly difficult, with the exception of a few thoroughly frustrating ones. Luckily you can easily start a failed mission over again with a press of a button on your cell phone.
Playing as a member of a motorcycle gang, you can be sure there's plenty of bike-riding to be done, often in tandem with other members of your group. This being the 21st century and all, backup is never more than a cell phone call away, so if you ever find yourself overwhelmed by a particularly nasty rival gang or a group of overly-aggressive Liberty City police officers, you should be okay.
Speaking of phone calls, one improvement that is sure to have fans cheering on their sofas is the lack of random calls from your compatriots. No longer will gamers feel forced to turn their virtual-phones off because they're constantly getting harassed to play pool with a friend or spend time with a needy girlfriend. That's the kind of annoying stuff for real life! In 'TLAD', the focus is on the fun stuff in the main storyline.
Once again, the voice acting in the the game is unparalleled, allowing you to really get sucked into the story. There isn't a lot of time wasted on pointless minor characters, but even those who aren't onscreen for very long still aren't wasted.
And though he's still an angry, violence-prone gang member, Johnny really is a very likable main character. He shows a softer side throughout the storyline and proves himself to be a smarter leader than Billy could ever be, which constantly has you rooting for him, even as he's taking out swarms of police officers.
There are still problems with the game, and these are the same ones that plagued GTA IV. It can be frustrating doing anything done on foot due to sub-par controls, and the aiming system is still not very user-friendly. In a game where shooting is as common as jumping is in Super Mario Bros., aiming and hit detection should be next to flawless.
There are new multiplayer modes as well to go along with what came in GTA IV, with a focus on motorcycles. As good as the single player campaign is, the multiplayer is once again the icing on the cake.
In terms of downloadable content, it doesn't get much better than 'TLAD'. Fans of GTA IV (and of course there are a lot of 'em) will find plenty to do with this DLC, and at a third of the cost of a full game, there shouldn't be any feelings of being ripped off. The main storyline is longer than many other full games' campaign modes, and it also happens to be better than Niko's story.
Like with any game though, it's quality, not quantity that matters. Despite being downloadable content, 'TLAD' has both.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
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