Xbox 360 Review: GTA IV – The Lost and Damned

Peace and Prosperity be damned, my brother…

When the news emerged that the Xbox 360 was going to get exclusive chapters for GTA IV, it sparked something unseen of…for the first time, Sony were the losers in the GTA universe and the fanboys didn’t like that one bit. They do seem to have gone quiet since The Lost and Damned actually came out, and after completing it as of last night…I can say that they are right to be jealous, it’s perhaps the best form of downloadable content for a videogame that I’ve ever seen.

You play not as Niko, but as Johnny Klebitz. Johnny is a veteran member of The Lost, a notorious biker gang. Johnny has been creating business opportunities for The Lost in Liberty City, but his first loyalty must be to the patch he wears on his back and to Billy Grey, the club’s President. However, when Billy returns from rehab hell-bent on bloodshed and debauchery, Johnny finds himself in the middle of a vicious turf war with rival gangs for control of a city torn apart by violence and corruption. Can the brotherhood survive?
The Lost and Damned is interesting because it weaves its story around certain points of the main GTA storyline like kidnapping Roman, going on the infamous diamond heist, you pass Niko a few times in the game, but he’s more of a background character. Instead you meet familiar faces like Elizabeta and Ray Boccino while meeting new ones like the politician Stubbs, who you actually see completely naked…which is a bit “tongue in cheek”, I’m surprised the press hasn’t jumped on this already, they always love to say that GTA damages people. So where are they now? Maybe they’ll emerge in a few months when they actually discover the full frontal scene and we have all forgotten about it. Who knows?

The mission structure of TLAD is like the main game, but it does offer some new game types like bike races with baseball bats which turns it into a Road Rash-esque mini-game. You can call for backup at missions and even have bikes driven to your position. It’s a much easier game, although there are a few tough moments like trying to escape the police from the airport and an on-the-rails shooting section which took me several attempts to learn where the police were coming from.

There are new weapons including a grenade launcher, sawn-off and automatic shotguns and finally pipe bombs. As well as new mini-games like arm wrestling and a card game of Hi-Lo. The story itself is intriguing…not just because it intersects with moments of the main story, but because of Johnny. He is a really interesting character, he has to make some tough choices and deals with it quite well, but overall he is a complete wreck and has an ex-girlfriend who is a drug addict. You’ll probably recognise who she is from the main game, but enough spoilers…
The episode itself can take anywhere from 10-15 hours to complete, although it varies on how good you are. I personally finished it in 9 hours but didn’t take the time to search out the new 50 seagulls that the game has or do 24 gang war activities and then there are the races I’ve already mentioned. Then there are other jobs you can do for more money like taking specific cars and so on. We may have seen most of these before, but they are still a nice addition.

Besides the single player, there’s a bunch of new multiplayer modes that come with The Lost and Damned. Here’s a list of what to expect:

Witness Protection – Bikers try to eliminate a bus while the cops try to protect it.
Race – Racing on bikes with racers carrying bats.
Lone Wolf Biker – Kill the Carrier on bikes.
Own the City – Try to gain control of the city section by section.
Club Business – Like the original Mafia game in GTA IV, but with more tasks.
Chopper vs. Chopper – Helicopter vs bike. Bike rider tries to get through checkpoint while helicopter tries to stop the biker.
They are really interesting modes, but they offer no achievements. My favourite MP mode has to be Race, just because it reminds me so much of Road Rash on the Mega Drive (Sega Genesis for you Americans). The achievements in TLAD are fairly simple and can easily be obtained as you play through the game, although you’ll need to do single player races to get my favourite achievement known as “Get Good Wood” for knocking 69 bikers with the baseball bat while racing.

The visuals of GTA IV remain the same in TLAD, although the font changes to match the style of the content. There is an awful film grain option which you can thankfully turn off; the effect hides away the beauty of Liberty City…which in itself is a sin. Voice-acting is superb and they do a real good job of sounding like a bunch of insane hillbillies, there are more F-bombs than you could imagine…which is only a good thing when it comes to The Lost.

The Verdict

The Lost and Damned may be expensive, mission-types aren’t varied enough and the game can be quite easy. But it remains one of the deepest pieces of downloadable content I’ve come across, what DLC offers you almost as much as a full game? It’s just incredible and I for one, can’t wait to see what Rockstar are going to do with the second and final episode.