For a long time before and after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, gamers have been speculating about the nature of the Xbox 360 exclusive downloadable “episodes” the were to be added on to the package. The Lost and Damned is the first of two exclusive episodes for the Rockstar’s flagship franchise, and while it isn’t in a new city, and it doesn’t do anything particularly different from the core product, it is a brand new chapter in America’s favorite virtual city, and it is more of the fantastic game we’ve already come to love.
Note: This is a review of add-on content for Grand Theft Auto IV. The point of this review is to discuss aspects of the game that are either new or changed. Any discussion of the core aspects of the gameplay can be found in our review of the game here.
Johnny Klebitz is the main character of the tale this time around and for the most part, he’s a likeable dude. As a member of The Lost, a mean biker gang that had some exposure in GTAIV, he plays the role of vice president as well as the gang’s oft ignored moral compass. Johnny’s sense of right and wrong sets a tone of tension in the air, as the fresh-from-rehab president of the Lost, Billy Grey, returns to the helm of his motorcycle club.
Drama is the order of the day in The Lost and Damned, as this is Liberty City and things never go as planned: people get double crossed, people get killed, people get robbed, people get the wrong idea, and Johnny is always somewhere in the middle of it. Luckily, the cinematic presentation and quality voice work that Rockstar have come to be famous for are ever present. From the very first conversation between Johnny and Billy Grey, it’s easy to hear the conviction of the actors in the characters they play. The characters have personalities and beliefs, and the voices play that way. Rockstar hired professionals, and it shows.
While the game retains the same production values as the original, the gameplay facets are of the same type that became tedious by the 3/4ths point of GTAIV. From the get-go the mission structure becomes instantly familiar to a fault. You see a cinematic and go to a place, whatever you were supposed to do at said place goes very, very badly, and you either have to kill everyone, chase someone (then kill them), or run away from someone (most likely the cops). I suppose this isn’t a particularly negative point if you have no problem with this structure, but it would have been mighty nice if Rockstar shook things up a little bit.
While the missions might not be different, The Lost and Damned does offer some interesting variations from GTAIV’s formula. The central theme of the game is brotherhood, and Rockstar incorporated this via the ability to bring your Lost brothers into battle with you. Your brothers gain battle prowess as they fight alongside you, and if you fail to protect them, they’re gone for good (save for two). They do get replaced by others in the gang, but their replacements are at much lower level than their predecessors.
Seeing as how the characters are in a Motorcycle club, Johnny spends much of his time on the back of a steel horse. The game doesn’t make it easy for you to catch cabs or use any alternative transporation, but it encourages you to ride in formation with your Lost brothers. Unfortunately, driving cars is pretty difficult, because as any GTAIV fan will tell you, the cars handle pretty horribly. Luckily, driving bikes is easier than driving cars, but not by much, and even less so when you have to shoot at the same time.
The game bypasses anything resembling a tutorial as for the most part, it assumes you know what you’re doing. From the get go, Johnny has assets in Liberty city that took Nico hours to acquire. He can call his brother’s for bikes, guns, or good times at any point in the game. Strangely, the social aspects that were so prevalent in GTAIV are almost never brought up in Lost and the Damned. You’re still able to go out with buddies to do various activities, including seeing some brand new comedy acts, but the game never explicitly makes you, nor does it seem like there are any tangible rewards for doing so.
At 20 dollars, The Lost and Damned is a pricey bit of digital content, only rivaled by Oblivion’s Shivering Isles. For the skeptical, I’ll lay it down nice and simple; if you want more GTA IV, the 8-12 more hours of fantastic story and classic GTA gameplay is well worth the price of entry.
Liberty City is the star of show, looking good as ever. The cinematic presentation of the game is also spectacular.
|How does our scoring system work?|
Despite a few new things, it's the same ol' classic GTAIV formula.
Outstanding voice acting, quite possibly the best of any game.
Short enough to play through multiple times, but the added multiplayer modes aren't anything that anyone would play.
Anyone looking for more GTA has every reason to check this out.