Review – GTA IV: The Lost and Damned

February 22, 2009 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

Seeing as how the open-world crime-fest “Grand Theft Auto IV” was one of last year’s best (and highest selling) video games, it’s no surprise that it has fallen victim to the trend of adding downloadable content (DLC) to expand the experience.

And leave it to developer Rockstar to do this better than anyone else with “Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned.”

At $20 (or 1600 Microsoft Points), “The Lost and Damned” has a fairly hefty price tag, but it is probably the meatiest piece of DLC for any game yet. Included is new music, new television shows, a new comedy act, and new multiplayer modes.

But the main draw is most definitely the new story.

“The Lost and Damned” puts you in the shoes of Johnny Klebitz, the vice president of the Lost motorcycle gang. “GTA IV” players may recognize the name, as Johnny and his gang played a small role in the story of the main game’s character, Niko Bellic.

But while Niko was a foreigner struggling with his dark past while trying to make his way in the US of A, Johnny is a proud and true American who has very different issues to struggle with.

While the Lost at first seem like a typical Hollywood biker gang, you quickly learn that there’s a lot of depth to its members. The leader of the Lost, Billy, has just been released from prison, and he seems changed in ways that Johnny isn’t too comfortable with.

Gone are the days when the Lost brotherhood (or as Billy would ridiculously say, “buh-RUH-THER-hood!”) was a group of fun-loving rebels who stole bikes. It seems Billy would rather have his boys spilling blood and breaking bigger laws.

While not nearly as intense or emotionally involved as Niko’s tale in the main “GTA IV” experience, “The Lost and Damned” still provides a very intriguing plot that keeps you interested. This is helped greatly by absolutely superb voice acting.

The story also has you cross paths not only with Niko, but also with a few major characters that you should recognize. This lets you see Liberty City from a very different set of eyes, providing a really interesting experience.

The story is meant to be played almost entirely on the two wheels of Johnny’s chopper, but thankfully the bike riding gameplay has been much improved, making the experience of driving a motorcycle more exhilarating than frustrating.

The main story took me only around six hours to complete, but it was six hours well spent. Besides that, though, there is still a lot to see, such as races and gang wars to partake in. Throw in the new multiplayer modes and you can consider “GTA IV’s” lifespan significantly expanded.

“The Lost and Damned” is the first of at least two downloadable episodes for “GTA IV,” and both this and the next one are slated to be exclusive to the Xbox 360 (sorry PS3 owners). While I was initially disappointed that this first DLC pack would center on a biker gang rather than Niko – whom I had grown attached to – Rockstar delivered with yet another superb crime thriller in Liberty City. I personally can’t wait to see what Rockstar does with the next content pack.

If you were a fan of “GTA IV” and want more of the experience, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t play this expansion.

“The Lost and Damned” is available for download now on the Xbox Live Marketplace. It requires a copy of the original “GTA IV” to run.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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