So, you probably have at least heard about GTA IV, a blockbuster video game by Rockstar Games from 2008. As you might known, it’s one of my favourite games, and the favourite one in the GTA franchise, beating even San Andreas which everyone seems to think is the game that perfected the formula of GTA series. So why do I like GTA IV over SA? I just like how more mature the game is in it’s theme and presentation, without forgetting to add occasional dark humour to the mix when it’s appropriate. Sure, it is kinda mixed bag, but at least they tried to do something new with the franchise, unlike some other companies seem to do with their IP. So, the strength of IV is in the satire it presents, which lampoons the modern day America, and especially the hypocrisy of it’s society. But I’m not talking about IV here. The subject of this review is The Lost and Damned DLC, which was originally released a year later as the XBOX 360 exclusive tittle, but was soon released for PS3 and PC soon afterwards. And it’s not that great, though it manages to beat most of the DLC content out there easily. This is telling more about the current state of the DLC’s though.
The Lost and Damned tells a story of Johnny Klebitz, the vice president of The Lost MC chapter of Alderney. The story begins when Billy Gray, the president of said club is set free from prison, and imminently he returns to his old ways, fighting against the Angels of Death and spreading the chaos and anarchy over Liberty City and it’s neighbour Garden State. This doesn’t exactly suit with the more business oriented Johnny, and soon there’ll be a feud between the brethren
So, how should I put this? First of, the story is not that great. Though IV wasn’t really something out of the pen of Dostoyevsky either, at least it had some continuation between the missions. Sure, the different task giver’s missions rarely were connected with each other, but those by the same giver usually has some kind of story arch behind them, which made you more interested what was going to happen. In here, the arcs are non-existent, being about two or three missions long at best, and hence the whole mission tree is full of loose branches which are quite disconnected from each other, giving you a experience that’s quite hard to grasp on to. This highlights even more the fact how monotonous those missions are, since most of the time the missions seem to use formula “Drive here with the bike, and shoot these people” (with only three exceptions I can think of), which would have been quite more tolerable if there was an actual story behind it, and not some separate missions. Some would say that the side quests are the meat of GTA, but when they all are varieties of existing missions from base game, your really start to notice some repetitiveness there (all though I have to admit, it has the most accurate hand wrestling simulator that you can get with the mouse).
Another thing that’s disapointing with this game is it’s characters, since most of them are made out of the same generic mould, especially the members of The Lost MC. None of them really seem to have any personality outside the biker tropes that this piece is overusing quite nicely, and only thing I can tell Clay and Terry apart is the fact that first one brings you bikes when called and later one weapons. And if they are not the generic bikers you’re dealing with, they’re other kinds of stereotypes like Mafioso (Ray Boccino) or gangstas (Malc and DeSean). Even though they we’re present in the base game, they weren’t all it has, because there were quite a lot of other legitimate characters there like the Mc Leary’s, Roman Bellic e.t.c. It’s quite bad that the most memorable character you’ve got there has already made her appearance in the base game, when you got 10 hour expansion on your hands.
While we are talking about characters, the motives of Billy Gray and his motives later on in the game are not quite clear to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should make it painfully oblivious when you’re writing any story, but in this particular case, there really wasn’t even a hint about them. So, the only reason I can think of him ratting out about The Lost was paranoiac fear towards them and especially Johnny. For my opinion, this is something they’ve could fleshed out better.
But the most biggest flaw this game has is the fact that there’s really not that much of a satire this time around, which is quite alarming considering the fact that it was the meat of the base game. Instead, it seems to take it too seriously, without even slightest hint of humour in it, other than baseball bats in the motorcycle races, which can be used for batting the other contestants off from their rides. So in the nutshell, the whole game is about a generic biker doing some jobs for different people, while there’s quite uninteresting plot running behind it, which actually has some potential to be something better than it actually is. But on the positive note, the game does answer some questions which were present on the base game, like more on the diamonds that eventually got robbed. So, if you want your fix of GTA for cheap, try to get The Episodes from Liberty City which has The Ballad of Gay Tony in it, which is far better DLC (at least the small bit I’ve played it), or if you prefer the old school GTA’s, Saint’s Row 2.