Review by hotarunohaka

Reviewed: 10/30/09

GTA IV plus biker gangs, what's not to love?

Allow me to state my thoughts concisely on GTA IV. It goes with out saying that GTA IV ushered in a new era of gaming. The hyperbole was for once entirely justified. Liberty city was as lively as its inhabitants. No longer did it feel like a culmination of polygons, it was simulation of the highest regard. The notion of cartoon like violence and interaction that was prevalent in its predecessors was thankfully discarded, opting for a far more authentic approach.

Niko Bellic was indeed symbolic of the contemporary criminals who function with in today's, under world. Additionally the player was subjected to the morality of criminal rationalization, choices were implemented, players contemplated, characters were killed. It was an ingenious commentary on the arbitrary nature of violence that gamers are typically privy to, in essence it gave it a human quality.

The multiplayer was reflective of the campaign, an open ended environment plus the capacity of 16 players. Shotguns were pumped, pistols were emptied, cars, typically resulted in a furor of cataclysmic explosions and bodies dropped as if they were flies. To quote Willem Dafoe, "there was a fire fight!'.

After insurmountable hours of chaos, adrenaline and chafing of the extremities I was fulfilled.
If GTA IV was The Godfather of the series, then TLAD is The Sopranos of the series, no there are no Italian archetypes and the Mafia itself is a fairly irrelevant component to the over all plot. That being said themes such as family, greed and murder are as much a common motif in this DLC as it is in The Sopranos.

You assume the role of Johnnie Klebitz the de facto leader of The Lost; he is a methodical and efficient biker who is as prone to brutality as he is to logical reasoning. The game opens with Johnny and his crew picking up Billy Gray, the official club president who after a series of criminal convictions is released from a, rehabilitation clinic under the pretense of his latent heroin addiction which in effect spared him the brunt of prison. Billy Gray is as vile as one could imagine a coarse, sadistic, hypocritical, criminal who operates with in the realms of his own impulses.

Billy is an ideal foil for Johnny. The former is rock n roll, the latter is class. The two consistently contradict and undermine each other to no avail. Picture the image of two dogs scrapping for a piece of meat.

Game play mechanics are virtually the same as its predecessor. There is a level of variance though, for one the, handling of motor bikes are fluid and simple to operate as opposed to the stiff mechanics in GTA IV. New mini games such as racing with choppers and turf wars, similar to those of San Andreas'. New weapons are available as well including, a sawed-off double barreled shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol, a rapid fire shotgun, a grenade launcher and pipe bombs.

Multiplayer's most notable addition is a mode called prison snitch, a game in which one player must successfully transport a bus load of informants from one point to the next, with the opposing player doing he must execute said prisoners before the route is completed. Other than this aspect nothing has changed.

There are flaws which is evident in any video game. Though only minor quibbles they need to be addressed. TLAD utilizes a default grain filter so to add the element of grit and despair that is indifferent with GTA IV's blurred palate of garish colors and vivacious blemishes. For a city so beautifully rendered it mars it unforgivably so. Johnny too has an awkward posture when running it is often so distracting that it becomes comical. The on-set of increased police activity and explosions will result in frame rate issues. Other than these aforementioned cons the game is thankfully replete with pros.

Closing comments: Games of this size and quality would usually indicate a full price ($100), though remarkably is a fraction of that ($20). That degree of cost is enough for to illicit one to buy a game of any substance. Let alone one as grand (no pun intended) as this. I hope my review has proved beneficial to you.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned (AU, 02/17/09)

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