Rockstar Games is known for pushing the envelope, not only with sex, violence, and drugs but with great video games. Grand Theft Auto III for the Playstation 2 was a gigantic leap forward for the industry and for sandbox action titles. Grand Theft Auto IV took everything that was great about the PS2 GTA titles and added one of the most compelling narratives seen on a video game. Now Rockstar is back with the first ever downloadble content for the GTA franchise in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned exclusively for the Xbox 360. Does the first DLC live up to the hype? Read our full review to find out!
For a price tag of $20, I think the whole GTA fan base was curious to see what sort of experience they would be getting. Rockstar being Rockstar kept things pretty tight lipped and we in the gaming community learned very little about the DLC before it released. So now that the DLC is out, many are asking what can we expect.
I was a huge fan of GTAIV, in fact I rarely give out perfect scores, but I did give GTAIV the perfect 10/10. One of the driving forces for me in GTAIV was Niko and the amazing story that transpired. Well if you were at all into that story, your probably going to be just as engrossed if not more so with the story in GTAIV: The Lost and Damned which takes a very similar approach with another intriguing and engaging story. You play as Johnny Klebitz who is part of the motorcycle gang which is run by the recently released from prison Billy who is taking the club down some pretty crazy paths. Johnny may not be as genuine a character as Niko who had really good range of emotions, Johnny is a respectable character who you do become engaged with from the opening cinematic.
Once again Rockstar has managed to have a game driven by its story, and although I think some will wish we had more time with our past heroine Niko, this new gang story was a nice diversion and really helped separate this experience from GTAIV something you could see was a goal when it came to The Lost and Damned. The story in typical GTAIV style has some seriously mature themes, including some male frontal nudity which for me was 100% out of place. I am not going to in anyway have this effect my review of the game but it just seemed like an unnecessary inclusion that was used to gain publicity for the game and not necessarily make it any better. This is probably an even more Mature experience then GTAIV and it seems like Rockstar held nothing back when creating it.
So you are part of a motorcycle gang, and many are probably wondering why would you want to ride a motorcycle in the land of GTA? Motorcycles have had a bad run on GTA titles, luckily Rockstar has tightened things up quite a bit and made it much more accessible and a lot less frustrating to ride around in Liberty City. In fact riding has a gang is fantastic, you get a great feel for the group and adds an extra level of reality and enjoyment to riding around town or to a mission.
The mission structure is classic GTA missions, go and take out someone, or deliver something, not much has changed in terms of missions. There is a little bit more of a focus on group missions, but outside of that Rockstar has stayed pretty close to the tried and true path of past GTA titles. This all has worked in the past and continues to work here. The biggest truth to this is that at this point I don’t think Rockstar is trying to win any converts, and if they were trying to this isn’t going to be the game that helps them do that as if you didn’t like past GTA titles this DLC won’t change your mind.
What is so amazing about this DLC is that this isn’t everything there is still the multiplayer side of things which adds a few new modes for those who want to continue playing GTAIV online. For me, the gameplay of GTAIV: The Lost and Damned is far beyond what I would have expected in terms of gameplay from a $20 DLC. In terms of gameplay GTAIV: The Lost and Damned raises the bar for what to expect from downloadble content.
Liberty City is still just as gorgeous as we last left it in GTAIV, and some of the added gritty effects help make this game feel different from GTAIV. The game although not the perfect graphical experience has the real unique GTA feel but was changed up enough to really incorporate a really fresh feel. The Lost and Damned does a great job with the cut scenes which are even better then GTAIV and continue the top quality that we have come to expect from the franchise. There isn’t necessarily a huge change from GTAIV to the DLC but its still a great looking game.
I was all about the story in GTAIV, Niko was a great character and I wasn’t sure anyone would be able to take his place. Rockstar however continues to impress me with another great story that may not be as deep but is just as interesting and engaging. What I enjoyed most about this experience was that it wasn’t just a rehash or an expansion on the original but an entire new experience, For anyone who enjoyed GTAIV, this is going to be just as enjoyable of an experience.
Let’s leave price out of the equation for a minute, if you look at GTAIV: The Lost & Damned just as a stand alone game it can compete with 95% of Xbox 360 games out on the market today. Now throw in the fact that its $20 and is downloadble on Xbox Live and you have one of the most appealing and enjoyable experiences we have seen thus far in 2009. If you own GTAIV for the Xbox 360 you would be crazy not to go on Xbox Live and buy this game.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.