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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action Adventure

 

Publisher

Rockstar / Take 2

 

Developer

Rockstar

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

February 17, 2009

 

 

‑ Plays like an entirely new full-length game with plenty of new gameplay and added features
‑ Motorcycles are much easier to drive and navigate around Liberty City, particularly during chases
‑ Included Niko and Roman into many missions

 

 

‑ Disappointingly rushes the completion of the single-player storyline; overall, the story doesn’t have the same engrossing, fully involved immersion as the main game
‑ Cars and trucks still don’t handle particularly well
‑ Because Johnny and his biker cohorts are inherently “bad” there aren’t many of the moral choice dilemmas as there are in the main game with Niko
‑ Full-frontal male nudity

 

 

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV (360)

Review: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PC)

Review: Crackdown (360)

Review: Just Cause (360)

 

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Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

gta iv lost damned          gta iv lost damned

 

Grand Theft Auto IV introduced a whole new and large-scale Liberty City to gamers last year, exposing a seedy underbelly under the bright lights of a NYC-like big city. GTA IV was itself an immigrant story, chronicling the coming-to-America tale of Niko Bellic. After selling a boatload full of copies of the game, Rockstar has finally released the first downloadable content package, The Lost and Damned. Surprisingly, this isn’t an extension of Niko’s Liberty City life. Instead, the main character – Johnny Klebitz ‑ is a member of Liberty City’s own notoriously troublemaking biker gang, The Lost. Just as surprising is that Niko isn’t missed much (although in a neat twist, he is involved directly in some of the new missions), as the new cast of characters have their own Liberty City story to tell from behind the wheel of their choppers and hogs.
 

Rockstar could have simply gone with the “safe” bet of continuing Niko’s story with new missions. Instead, it puts its money down on focusing on an entirely new set of characters, and even though that all-in bet doesn’t pay off big, it still manages to hit

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the jackpot of success. Johnny Klebitz is the Jewish biker that is The Lost and Damned’s main character. He’s The Lost’s second-in-command, awaiting the prison release of the gang’s leader, Billy, a sonofabitch genuine bad guy that isn’t happy unless he’s knee-deep in the excrement of his gang’s notorious ways – including drug dealing, theft and murder. Johnny’s a straight-through bad guy, too, although with a bit of a

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conscious that Billy doesn’t come close to possessing.

This is one of the issues with the game’s story. Johnny’s not much of a likable fellow. Niko definitely had his bad side, but nowhere near the same level as Johnny. And all of the other Lost “brothers” (the most overused word that a gamer will hear, particularly from Billy, throughout the game) are generally lacking in redeeming qualities. This character “unfriendliness” is a major reason that it’s hard to get completely drawn into the game’s storyline, unlike the completely engrossing Niko tale.
 

Another damning flaw with the game’s story is the lack of conflict points and an overall seemingly sprinting to the finish line. There are two main conflicts in The Lost and Damned that Johnny faces: a showdown with Billy’s confidant, Brian, and finally a last face-to-face in the prison yard between Johnny and Billy. In GTA IV, there were numerous similar situations that Niko faced, and it was actually a difficult choice whether Niko should either kill or let another character live. In The Lost and Damned, however, there really isn’t that “moral” dilemma at all, as it seems the only choice is to quickly kill both Brian and Billy, which is disappointingly anticlimactic.
 

As to the fast-tracked story completion, that becomes another letdown. There’s a good amount of gameplay in The Lost and Damned. If a gamer focuses solely on completing mission after mission, it should take a dozen hours to finish the story. That’s as much gameplay as many full-priced games have. But at that point of the gameplay clock, the story starts moving at a rapid pace.

 

gta iv lost damned          gta iv lost damned

 

Jim is Johnny’s right-hand man throughout the entire game. However, near the end of the game after a fight that separates the two men, Johnny asks about Jim only to be told he has been eliminated. Just like that. No dramatic cut-scene showing his death, only a quick, terse explanation. It’s a shame that the story has some holes, because the voice acting, especially from Billy, is movie-quality excellent, and even the smallest supporting “actor” displays above-average voice work.

Gameplay remains basically at the same level of quality from GTA IV, with a few exceptions. Driving most vehicles still isn’t that much of a joyride, as the sometimes-frustrating behind-the-wheel controls haven’t been improved. However, because of Johnny being a biker, the game requires him to undertake most driving missions from the seat of a motorcycle, which control much better than any of the game’s multiple vehicle choices. A few new weapons are added to the arsenal: a grenade launcher and a sawed-off shotgun. The multiplayer has been refreshed, but the online gameplay still trudges along at a stuck-in-a-tar-pit pace.

Graphically, the game is the same, with another dose of high-quality cut-scenes. However, this reviewer has one warning for gamers out there: despite all the bloodshed and killing throughout the game, there’s one cut-scene with a politician in the spa that contains what this reviewer hopes to never see again as a videogamer: full-frontal male nudity.

Although the story gets lost on its trip down the highway of quality with plot holes along with a sometimes too-unlikable cast of Harley-loving ruffians, druggies, murderers and criminals, the first DLC content for GTA IV is still a solid game that gives full-price gameplay for a discount price.


‑ Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(April 1m 2009)

 

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