GTA IV: The Lost and Damned Single-Player Verdict

Go down

GTA IV: The Lost and Damned Single-Player Verdict

Post by S U IVI O on Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:10 am







Editor's Note: Though we've invested plenty of time in The Lost and Damned's single-player experience, we still need more time testing the multiplayer before providing a review. In the meantime, we have a detailed first-impressions of the single-player campaign.

It's been ten months since Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto IV to rave reviews and blockbuster sales numbers. Tuesday brings a new chapter in GTA IV and a new step in the evolution of downloadable content. While expansion packs that include significant single-player and multiplayer additions are old practice on PC, robust post-market content is virtually unheard of on consoles. Without question The Lost & Damned, a $20 Xbox 360 exclusive, is the meatiest DLC to date. Not only do you get a significant single-player campaign, but L&D includes 54 new music tracks, 20 new vehicles, a half-dozen new weapons, new side missions, new TV shows and new multiplayer modes. That's quite a deal when you consider the three-hour experience provided by Fallout 3's recent Operation: Anchorage DLC cost ten bucks. So rather than bother asking if it's worth it, let's just focus on how the experience stacks up against GTA IV.

Watch our single-player review of The Lost and Damned.
Just to make sure you know what is required to play L&D, you will need a copy of GTA IV in the drive, 1600 Microsoft Points and, of course, an Xbox 360. After you've downloaded The Lost and Damned, boot up GTA IV. You should be launched directly into The Lost and Damned, but if not, select "Game" from the pause menu, choose "New Game," and then choose the option to play The Lost and Damned.

The Lost and Damned takes place in Liberty City at the same time as Niko's tale from GTA IV. Though the two share characters and locations, they are treated as separate worlds. Keep this in mind, because anything good in L&D stays in L&D. Nothing transfers to Niko's adventures -- not the guns, the vehicles or the gameplay enhancements. This is significant, because almost everything Rockstar did with L&D makes the experience better, but none of it can be brought into GTA IV. That's a real shame, because the new campaign is the one significant shortcoming for this DLC. Even though the gameplay is better, the weapons cooler, it doesn't really matter when you just don't give a damn about anything that's happening in the story.

This time around, you play as Johnny "The Jew" Klebitz, Vice President of the biker gang named The Lost. Johnny's been the de facto leader while the President of The Lost, Billy, has been in rehab. The story begins with Billy's release and resumption of duties as head of the gang. This naturally leads to a conflict as Billy looks to dive nose-first into the drug trade while Johnny wants The Lost to be smarter about how it handles its business.

The campaign, which can be beaten in 8-10 hours, is not one of Rockstar's stronger offerings. Johnny's not a likeable guy. He's a jerk, but not in the loveable way of someone like, well, me. He's just an ass as is everyone else in The Lost. And his plight comes off more as a common power struggle than any real moral conflict with Billy. By contrast Niko is a lot more than just a guy with a funny accent. Niko's journey is one of a lonely immigrant looking for companionship in a strange city. Though he does bad things, he never comes off a bad guy. The same can't be said for Johnny. Though L&D's story begins with suggestions that Johnny is someone trying to turn his life around, the events that unfold show him to be as horrible a person as any other crook in Liberty City.

Johnny and Niko's stories intersect both directly and indirectly throughout. When Johnny is partnered with Niko (which is linked to two GTA IV missions), he seems like an okay guy. Heck, even a stand-up guy. But there are other events, ones that help explain some things that occurred in GTA IV, where Johnny comes off as downright despicable. I won't spoil any of these story elements, but suffice to say that there's a specific mission towards the end of L&D that made me want to stop playing as Johnny altogether. If you loved Niko and his friends, then you may end up hating Johnny. I did.

Violence begets violence... as proven in this hot video montage.
The story is not a success. Whether it's the weak subplot featuring Johnny's sometimes girlfriend Ashley or the main plot focusing on Johnny and Billy's fractured friendship, nothing feels fully developed. To be fair, GTA IV could be compared to a miniseries, where L&D would be just an episode of a show. There's not as much time to invest in the characters or the story. But knowing that, the plot and some of the unnecessary missions could have been adjusted (or some of the characters cut out) to allow for a more focused and powerful narrative.

It doesn't help that, in an effort to separate GTA IV and The Lost and Damned visually, Rockstar added a grain filter. This filter occurs throughout and sullies what was a beautiful city. The grain is fine for cutscenes, but it makes Liberty City look drab when driving around town. And at night, in the rain, the grain makes things even darker. It can be tough to see what's going on.

The good news is that the story and grain filter are the only bad parts about The Lost and Damned. Everything else is top-notch.

Several crucial gameplay tweaks were made for L&D. The most notable is a major tweaking of the motorcycles. Anyone who played GTA IV can tell you that the bikes can be a B@#$* to handle and that it's easy to get unseated from your ride. Because L&D stars a biker, things needed to change. Every bike handles better in L&D and a healthy number have been added so that there's plenty of variety available in Liberty City. More importantly, it's incredibly difficult to be thrown from your bike now. You pretty much need to run head-on into a wall to get tossed. You can bounce off medians, smack against other cars and pretty much run roughshod over Liberty City with little concern for being unseated.

It's a challenge to get tossed off your ride. Check this video montage for proof.
What many found an annoyance, is now a great asset. Not only are the bikes easy to handle and fun to ride, but they are so quick and nimble that the very thought of jacking a car in L&D makes me ill. In fact, I just threw up in Greg Miller's lunchbox. This, of course, has to be exactly what Rockstar wanted (for bikes to be more appealing than cars, not for me to chuck all over Miller's Lunchables). You are, after all, playing a biker. Being in a car is like being in a coffin.

As if the bikes weren't enough fun, there are some new weapons to enjoy, all of which are among the best Liberty City has to offer. There's an auto-pistol that makes playing 10 hours with just a handgun a viable option, the assault shotgun, which is just plain filthy, a sawn-off shotty for those who like to kill in close quarters, pipe bombs in case grenades are too military for your style, and a grenade launcher which allows for skill shots through windows and over cover. These weapons are powerful and plentiful in L&D. I've taken down cars in two or three shots with the assault shotgun and the grenade launcher might be the most fun weapon in GTA IV or L&D.

Johnny has one major advantage over Niko -- he's been in the city pretty much his entire life. He doesn't need to make friends. Sure, you can call up your biker buddies to shoot some pool or play air hockey, but you don't need to in order to attain their services. They're already your homeboys. Instead of measuring the strength of your friendships, The Lost and Damned measures the battle-readiness of your crew. Many of the missions in L&D have Johnny riding with his pals -- or having the ability to call in backup. Every member who survives gains experience, which increase their maximum health and their fighting prowess. If someone dies, they will be replaced by a newbie lacking the experience. This makes it beneficial to assist your friends in a firefight, as keeping them alive makes them stronger and thus makes the next shootout easier.

While I'm not a fan of the story, I did still have a damned good time with The Lost and Damned. And that's almost completely because of the improved bike mechanics and the sick new weapons. And, as you'd expect from a Rockstar offering, the presentation elements are top-notch. The voice acting is fantastic, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and there's still the wonder that is Liberty City. It's pretty much the same LC you explored as Niko, but it's still a fantastic creation.

Outside of the campaign, there's plenty to do. Getting 100% in L&D will take a good amount of time. There are 25 gang wars to be won across Liberty City, a dozen new bike races, new bike theft missions, several odd jobs to tackle for various miscreants, 50 seagulls to find and kill, a new comedy show to enjoy, some new mini-games to try once and then ignore, and full frontal nudity. Make that male full frontal nudity. That's right, Rockstar brings you Xbox 360's first downloadable dong.

Check out our latest L&D videos.
The Lost and Damned's one failing is in creating a character that's difficult to care about. But there are enough interesting asides to GTA IV that most can overlook the weaker story and just enjoy L&D for what it is -- a supplement to a great game. I recommend giving L&D a shot, not because Johnny is a great new addition to the Rockstar universe, but because the gameplay from GTA IV has been improved for the better. It's just too bad that none of this carries into GTA IV. I would love to relive Niko's adventures armed with an assault shotgun and grenade launcher and the ability to ride a bike like a man. I suppose that sums up L&D -- I loved the new gameplay elements so much, I wanted to dump ol' Johnny and experience them with Niko.

Source: IGN

_________________


avatar
S U IVI O
Admin
Admin

Number of posts : 245
Age : 41
Location : St. Maarten
Registration date : 2009-01-21

View user profile http://www.myspace.com/darebelution

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum