Publisher: Take 2 Interactive
Developer: Rockstar Games
Release date: Available now
Review by: Ryan Asher
Niko Bellic’s Liberty City was so good the first time, it only makes sense to double dip and head back. Only this time you’re not reprising your role as the mass-murdering Eastern European immigrant. You’re playing as the pit-bull-like Johnny Klebitz. Johnny is the vice president of the Lost Motorcycle Club, and as the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion pack The Lost and Damned begins, he has just returned to the role of second fiddle with the release of the club’s previously incarcerated president, Billy Grey.
With the return of Grey comes his boys-with-toys attitude and the desire to ruffle feathers without thinking of the consequences. It isn’t long after his release that Grey sparks a violent gang war with rival motorcycle group the Angels of Death. This doesn’t sit too well with Klebitz, especially since he feels Grey is going to get him killed. As you can imagine, tension builds between the two rivals as the game progresses. It’s not as entertaining a story as GTA IV’s, but that’s a tough act to follow. The Lost and Damned’s story is stellar by itself.
Aside from another finely crafted Rockstar North narrative, this package comes with an assortment of other little additions. Klebitz has access to original weapons and vehicles, including a customized bike that you’ll be using quite a bit. Speaking of which, you’ll also notice that Klebitz is a lot better at handling his hog than Bellic is. While there isn’t a new island to tear up, there are some new interiors to explore and destroy. You’ll also enjoy new online modes, tailored around the theme of The Lost and Damned.
There’s a lot of depth to this package. You’ll be fully engrossed for at least 10 hours in the main campaign, which has its fair share of awesome moments (the back-seat bike mission springs to mind), and after/during the campaign, you can compete in all-new races, gang wars, car-jacking and mini-games. Or you can jump online, where the prison transport mode stole the show for me: A team of cops tries to protect a prison bus from bikers who are trying to bust it up. In addition, the Liberty City radio stations are offering a slew of new tracks, all of which are perfectly picked for the game.
The Lost and Damned is the same game as GTA IV. A lot of people would say that’s a great thing, including myself, but the expansion also inherits many of the same problems that were evident in the core game. The A.I., especially the police A.I., is still incredibly wonky. The game also does look a bit dated compared to other new releases. The control scheme could also be updated, and the character movement made to be a bit less clunky, but despite how serious some of these issues might sound, they don’t severely impact the enjoyment of the game.
If The Lost and Damned is any indication of the quality of Rockstar’s work, Microsoft appears to have gotten a great deal when they snagged the exclusive rights for the two extra episodes to GTA IV. A “steal” isn’t a good enough word to describe how much of a deal this add-on content is. To put it in perspective, buying all of the expansion’s new songs on iTunes would cost more than the price of the whole game. Do yourself a favor and join the Lost M.C. – it’s a wild ride.