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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action Adventure

 

Publisher

Take 2

 

Developer

Rockstar

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

October 29, 2009

 

 

‑ Plenty of new badass weapons that leave satisfying explosive and fiery mayhem and destruction behind

‑ Base-jumping mini-games are extremely difficult to complete without plenty of practice and skilled precision but nonetheless challengingly enjoyable

 

 

‑ Story and dullish characters aren't anywhere near as compelling as either of the two previous GTA IV tales

‑ Helicopters in missions is more a aggravating chore than entertaining gameplay

 

 

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned (360)

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV (360)

Review: Godfather II (360)

 

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GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Score: 8.5 /10

 

ballad of gay tony          ballad of gay tony

 

Decadent and debauched and damned proud of it, NYC wannabe Liberty City certainly has been exposed for its darkly dangerous personality throughout the first two GTA IV tales. First, from the coming-to-America narrative of immigrant Niko Bellic. Then from Johnny Klebitz’s badass bikers saga. While still reveling in the devious decay of Big City life, the final chapter of Liberty City’s sordid story, The Ballad of Gay Tony, sings the song of its glamorous “beautiful people” of Liberty City. These “vampires” flock to the nightlife of LC – with an abundance of dancing, drugs, drinking, sex and quite a bit of murderous and malicious intent – at the

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nightclubs owned by “Gay Tony” Prince, one of the game’s two lead characters along with Luis Lopez, who is Tony’s killer assistant as well as the persona gamers will directly control.

 

Unfortunately, while none of the Grand Theft Auto franchise’s long line of “anti” heroes is meant to be particularly likeable, both Gay Tony and Luis are devoid of

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much appeal – ironic because they, especially in the case of Gay Tony, are supposed big shots on the after-dark social scene, where one would expect to find someone of Gay Tony’s stature dripping with charisma. The story of The Ballad of Gay Tony just doesn’t have a strong backbone because of the lack of an interesting leading man. Luis is nothing more than a drug-dealing street thug that’s a disappointment not only to his mother, but to gamers who will certainly miss the exploits of the Niko Bellic or Johnny Klebitz characters as they play through The Ballad of Gay Tony. Both of the two previous Liberty City anti-heroes, by the way, make cameo appearances here, though only indirectly interacting with Gay Tony or Luis.

 

Always getting into a deeper and deeper mess of his own undoing, Gay Tony is just annoying. He’s always drunk or on drugs, and leaves Luis time and time again to somehow, someway find a desperate way out of their worsening troubles, mainly begotten through the ill-advised debts that Gay Tony has incurred with no real way of ever repaying. He’s not the life of the party he claims and needs to be, that’s for sure, being more of an obnoxious whiner. Luis himself is just plain murderously boring, not much of a compelling character to care about in any way.

 

However, while neither Gay Tony nor Luis Lopez have much of an affable personality, The Ballad of Gay Tony still has the great GTA IV gameplay going for it, with a few new “toys” and other additions along for the hijacked ride. Plenty of new weaponry is at Luis’ disposal, badass guns that leave satisfying explosive and fiery mayhem and destruction behind, especially the blow-everything-to-hell explosive shotgun that comes in real handy in the final two firefight missions that get really hot and heavy. There’s also an advanced sniper rifle and a parachute.

 

ballad of gay tony           ballad of gay tony

 

Yes, a parachute, that gamers will be using for the base-jumping mini-games. Along with the “been there, done that” drug war mini-games, where Luis must meet up with his doltish drug-dealing childhood chums and steal drugs from various dealers around Liberty City, there are base-jumping mini-games (and some dancing mini-games with a M-rated payoff for “winning,” for those music gaming aficionados). From high atop Liberty City’s huge and soaring skyscrapers, Luis can base jump using the parachute, trying to land on a specified target to complete the goal. It’s extremely difficult to complete without plenty of practice and skilled precision but challengingly enjoyable.

 

New vehicles find themselves on the streets of Liberty City, just ripe for Luis to steal. Some missions also require extended helicopter usage. Depending on a gamer’s whirly-birding skills and adeptness at controlling flying gunships, these undertakings can be completely frustrating, more a unwanted task than gaming entertainment.

 

As the swan song for the tawdry tales of Liberty City, The Ballad of Gay Tony ends GTA IV with a somewhat less-than-satisfying final chapter. However, despite the story and characters being a bit dullish and uninteresting, GTA gamers are given a definitive reason to see this three-part story to its conclusion with the core GTA gameplay – replete with the standard vehicle manslaughter opportunity gamers have come to know (and in many cases love) ‑ remaining as gratifyingly volatile and as ever.

 

‑ Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(December 31, 2009)

 

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