I recently picked up Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. If you had fun with GTA IV, this is a worthwhile addition to your collection if you own an Xbox 360, especially if you enjoy videogame characters dropping the F-bomb like it’s their job.
Instead of Niko Bellic, Grand Theft Auto IV’s protagonist, the story revolves around Johnny Klebitz and other fellow members of The Lost: a motorcycle gang.
Though this is the first time gamers get to play as Johnny, it is not their first time meeting him. Niko meets Johnny after they are both entrusted to watch over a heroin deal for Elizabeta and Playboy X. Johnny also appears in Grand Theft Auto IV to help Niko with a diamond deal at the museum on behalf of Ray Boccino.
It keeps players in the familiar world of Liberty City very effectively by having Johnny interact with some familiar faces. You’ll also revisit some old missions (like the museum) but this time, players will be seeing them a fresh point of view.
The graphics are similar to GTA IV’s, but both a colleague and I noticed a fair amount of grain in the picture. It’s almost as if they Rockstar was trying to make it look like a film. We figured it was simply some programming trick that allowed smoother frame rates. If so, it certainly works. The only occurrence of a slowdown I have witnessed was when I set a pipe bomb and destroyed seven cop cars, sending them flying in all directions. It was awesome, to say the least.
The Lost and Damned features an updated music library to the original Grand Theft Auto IV. Personally, I usually stick to the Liberty Rock channel which has been blessed with a few sweet new auditory nuggets. There is nothing like hearing Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” while being pursued by a rival gang, the Angels of Death. It is cliché, perhaps, but it is sweet nonetheless.
There is also an updated weapons list which includes the tear-jerkingly fantastic auto shotgun. The auto-shotty is a world destroyer, turning cars into flames and bodies into pulp with a few simple shots. Also fresh in your arsenal is a sawed-off shotgun, a grenade launcher, an automatic pistol, and pipe bombs.
There are some perks to being a member of a motorcycle gang. You can call up some of your buddies to act as backup during missions. They can also deliver bikes and bring a weapons van. This makes running around aimlessly looking for a new ride after your old one get smashed a thing of the past.
One of the nicest updates to the gameplay is the addition of mid-mission checkpoints. During some of the longer missions, if you are killed or arrested after completing a certain part of the mission, you will start at that point. Some missions are incredibly long. After you fail the first or second time, you’re going to love the checkpoints.
The motorcycle controls have been changed from GTA IV. They’re now more easily controlled and you’re less likely to be kicked from your ride. I’m not saying you won’t get hurt, but using motorcycles is a lot more fun this time around and you will probably find yourself spending more time on the bikes than anything else.
In addition to all the other changes, there are also quite a few new multiplayer modes:
Club Business – You and your friends ride together as a gang and complete certain tasks. It’s very similar to the Mafia mode from GTA IV
Witness Protection – One team plays as The Lost and must destroy a bus carrying witnesses while the other team plays as NOOSE and tries to protect the bus.
Race – You race while on bikes and get a baseball bat. As you drive, you hit people. So few words are needed to describe how insanely fun this is.
Lone Wolf – One person starts as the Lone Wolf. Everyone else must kill that person to become the Lone Wolf. Whoever held the title for the longest amount of time, wins.
Own the City – Much like GTA: San Andreas’ gang wars. You compete against other players to control different territories of the city.
Chopper vs. Chopper – A person on a bike tries to get through checkpoints while being chased by another player flying a helicopter.
This game packs on another 10-15 hours of missions into an even more alive environment in which most gamers are already familiar with (and most likely own a few apartments). With slick graphics, updated gameplay mechanics, as well as a plethora of new multiplayer modes, this expansion pack is well worth the 1600 Microsoft Points. If you enjoy the Grand Theft Auto series, this is an admirable addition to the catalog.
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Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar North
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Platforms: Xbox 360
Release Date: February 17, 2009