Xbox 360 Review: GTA IV – The Ballad of Gay Tony

November 3, 2009 by  

The Ballad of Liberty City…

There’s no denying it. GTA IV was an amazing game…it had everything, a story that anyone could enjoy, a city that was great to drive around in and for Xbox owners, the extra instalments of episodic content that PS3 owners would never get (at the time of this review, anyway). The Lost and Damned came out earlier this year and I personally enjoyed it quite a bit, it was good to see the story of Liberty City through a different perspective, so where does The Ballad of Gay Tony fit in?
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You play as Luis Lopez, part-time hoodlum and full-time assistant to legendary nightclub impresario Tony Prince (AKA Gay Tony). The story ties in surprisingly well with the events of the main game and TLAD and finally brings any loose ends to a conclusion. During the story, you will meet some characters like Brucie’s brother Mori, Yusuf Amir played by comedy legend Omid Djalili who is obsessed with owning anything he cannot buy like a NOOSE tank and even a subway train. You even come across Niko’s nemesis, Ray Bulgarin for several missions. I won’t spoil what happens there, but it’s pretty good stuff.

Gay Tony is a drug-addict in debt. Luis constantly gets jokes made at him for working with a gay boss; sometimes they are pretty funny but paints a good picture of homophobia in society today. On the lighter side, you won’t be offended that much by the gay talk…there are far more things to get your teeth into such as a mission in which Luis blows up a subway train and a plane at the airport. Of course, this is quite controversial due to similar attacks in New York and London, but if there’s one thing Rockstar has proved over the years, it’s that it can put controversial things in games and get away with them (apart from Manhunt 2 of course).
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The main gameplay of GTA IV remains intact with this episode. There are some new weapons that pack a serious punch, but the episode allows you to replay missions once you are done. This is great because two achievements require you to complete certain objectives in the 26 missions and get 80-100% in all of them. These objectives can be simple like finishing in a certain time and not dying, but others can be hard like getting 100% headshots or being incredibly accurate with your bullets. Luckily you can tackle each one separately, so it should take a few replays for each mission to get 100%.

The Ballad of Gay Tony adds two new modes to the main game. The first is Drug Wars which is a series of repeated attacks on drug lords and stealing their stash, they are good but the dialog for each one tends to repeat after a while and you’ll become sick of it quickly. The problem is that achievement whores will need to complete 25 of these for the Snow Queen achievement to unlock. The second mode is Base Jumping and it’s personally my favorite part of the new content. Essentially you jump off buildings with a parachute and try to glide through checkpoints, land on a target or even land on a moving vehicle. There are 15 in total, but alas it only unlocks 5 gamerscore…which I found to be really cheap considering the effort put in.
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There’s also a dancing mini-game that Luis can take part in at both Gay Tony’s nightclubs and a fighting cage where you battle it out against thugs to become the champion. Multiplayer includes Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Race, GTA Race and Free Mode where there is also a Basejumping mode in which players dive of buildings for the fastest times but can also be killed by other players on the ground. It’s a nice addition and I’m sure it’ll prove popular.

The story as a whole is brilliant. It’s great to see the main story come to an end this way, but it’s also quite sad because now there won’t be anything GTA-related for a while. You become used to Liberty City and now it’s all over. Ah well, hopefully GTA V won’t take so long….

The Verdict

The Ballad of Gay Tony is a far better episode than The Lost and Damned. It’s tough at times and the mission objectives provide good enough reasons to replay missions. The whole package is simply brilliant and definitely value for money. Goodnight, Liberty City.

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