Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

January 16, 2010

Currently Playing: Grand Theft Auto IV: Lost & Damned

One of the biggest video game hits of 2008 was Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV.  There was something about the story of Niko Bellic, the Eastern European thug who's trying desperately to make a life for himself in America, but who keeps getting drawn further and further into a life of crime, that made a compelling story.  What was so cool about the game, as well as all of the other Grand Theft Auto games, was that the world was completely open.  You could do whatever you want, whenever you want, even after you had finished the story.  I did that for a while after I finished Niko's story, but soon other games beckoned and I let this one slide.

Until the first downloadable expansion pack came out, called The Lost & Damned.

In this game, you're still in Liberty City, and it takes place concurrently with Niko's story, but you're Johnny Klebitz, a member of the biker gang called "The Lost" (interesting name for a biker gang, actually...are they saying they're "lost souls" or something?).  The gang's leader just got out of court-ordered rehab after being convicted of drug possession, and Johnny finds himself heartily disagreeing with the direction Billy wants to take the gang.  After years of financial and other problems under Billy's leadership, Johnny has done things like make truces with the other gangs (such as the "Angels of Death") and added to the gang's financial base.  Billy starts destroying that work as soon as he gets out, going to war with the other gangs and basically ruining everything Johnny hoped to achieve.  The tension gets quite thick, with twists and turns as Johnny tries to keep his "brothers" alive and the gang from being wiped out.

The Lost & the Damned came out in February 2009, and I played it for a few days, but I got stuck on a mission that I just couldn't get past.  I did all of the other available stuff, but finally this mission was a choke point.  There wasn't anything story-related to do without getting past it, and I had run all of the races.  Again, other games beckoned and I just stopped playing it.

However, recently the second downloadable expansion, The Ballad of Gay Tony came out, and I decided to give this one another try as a prelude to eventually getting that as well.  I finally got past the mission and am now having a lot of fun with it again.  I'm only 37% done, so I know there's lots left to do.  I'd like to have a lot of it finished before Mass Effect 2 comes out at the end of the month, but I don't see that happening (I've hit another mission I'm having trouble with).

Anyway, The Lost & the Damned, so far at least, tells another interesting story that sucks you in. What's really neat is that it often intersects the story you played with Niko already, but from the other side.  One early example, so it's not much of a spoiler, is the drug deal gone wrong that Elizabetta had Niko accompany in the first game.  This time, you see it from Johnny's side.  Other killings that Niko had to do turn out to be people Johnny knows.  It was good to hear Niko's voice again (the guy who does his voice acting is superb).

The expansion pack adds a number of things that the original game lacked:  better motorcycle control (you're on bikes, so that stands to reason, considering controlling bikes in the original game really sucked).  New weapons (my favourite is the grenade launcher), and a grainy, gritty video style that looks really cool but is hard to play with.  I had to turn it off fairly quickly.  But it looked damned neat.

One of the fun things about all of the GTAs is the radio that you can listen to in the vehicles.  There are numerous stations, in genres from Talk Radio to Reggae, Rock & Roll, Electronica, and so many more.  The Lost & the Damned adds a bunch of songs to the original play list of many of the stations.  Also, when you're in the gang's headquarters, you can watch TV, and they've added some new TV shows.  Seriously, you can lose yourself in watching some of the hilarious television shows that are on (one favourite for me was a documentary on the rise of Liberty City).  And some of the radio shows are so funny that I just sit in the car and listen for a while.  Yes, GTA fans, Lazlo's back (though there's nothing new for him in this expansion, I hadn't heard him for a year so all of his material was fresh again).

There are also new races (this time with bikes!) and, after a certain point of the story, 25 Gang Wars to complete.  There's plenty of new stuff to do, that's for sure.  Rockstar likes to keep you busy.

Of course, as with all of the other GTA games, the language is saltier than the ocean and, in The Lost & the Damned, there's even a male frontal nudity scene, so beware of that.  This game is definitely intended for adults, but anybody can see that even without the "M" rating.

For those of you who don't have either expansion pack, you can buy them both on a disc for the Xbox (I'm not sure about the PS3 and PC, but I assume so) for $40.  Or you can download each episode for $20 a piece.  I'll be downloading Gay Tony since I've already got The Lost & the Damned.

As for you Wii owners?  You're out of luck.  I suggest you get a real machine.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.