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Riding With The Devil And The Damned

>>Concept
Ride through
Liberty City in
a biker gang 

>>Graphics
Poor. GTA IV's
engine has
aged noticeably
since 2008 

>>Sound
The voice acting
is typically superb.
The classic rock
soundtrack
impresses as well
with a good mix
of tunes. 
>>Controls
Workable. Getting
in and out of cover
is still awkward 

>>Technical
The PC version
is an atrocity of
dropped framerates
and lag 

>>Replayability
Moderate. There's
a good bit of new
content, plus the
usual distractions in
Liberty City.
Multiplayer, too. 

When you think about it, Grand Theft Auto IV is a colossal game. Everything is scaled up to match Rockstar’s sizeable vision. Just like Texas, everything is bigger in Liberty City. That includes downloadable content.

Where some games are content to release a few missions or horse armor for DLC, Rockstar went all out for their first downloadable add-on. The only way to match the sprawling size of Grand Theft Auto IV is to have a similarly large DLC pack. The Lost and the Damned is more than a couple more missions- it’s a full-blown story in its own right. As much as I loved Niko Bellic and his world, Rockstar did the right thing by starting over with a new protagonist, new side characters, and a tale separate from our favorite Eastern European immigrant.

The new guy on the scene is Johnny Klebitz, the vice president of The Lost Motorcycle Club or “Lost MC.” As far as Rockstar protagonists go, Johnny is a refreshing change. Niko and John Marston are both perpetual outsiders who tolerate working for others in search of a greater goal. They trust no one and believe in nothing except their own gain. Johnny Klebitz is a bit different. He’s a guy who actually believes in something. His life is all about his brothers in The Lost. Everything he does is calculated to help the club and its members.

 

They need a hell of a lot of help, too. The club didn’t name themselves “The Lost” for nothing. These are guys who are confused and don’t know what to do with themselves. Instead of settling for a normal life, The Lost MC does its best to break all the rules and screw over everyone they meet. The Lost hate anything that is not part of the club.

 

The drive of Johnny and his gang to piss off the entire world takes the story in some interesting places. Over the course of the tale, The Lost MC is buffeted by betrayal and bad luck. By the time all the bullets are done flying, everything has changed. I was satisfied with the ending, although it didn’t really stand out.

 

That could be the epitaph on the gravestone of The Lost and the Damned: Good, but nothing that stands out. The missions are fun but lack the excitement of watercooler moments from IV. Really awesome stuff like the bank robbery and helicopter chase are nowhere to be found in the DLC.

On the other hand, there is a lot of solid content. I finished roughly a third of the side missions and the entire story mode in about ten hours. That’s a pretty good amount of time for a DLC pack, especially considering the amount of stuff I still never got around to doing. There are gang shootouts and races aplenty that continue after the main story is done. Saddling up with other bikers to take on a rival gang should keep anyone entertained.

 

You know, I take back that comment about The Lost and the Damned not being exceptional. If there’s one thing this DLC is good at, it would be making you really feel a part of a motorcycle club. The game strongly encourages you to travel by motorcycle; something I felt was underutilized in the main game of GTA IV. You can even call other members of The Lost and have them bring you a bike.

When you get on said bike, the radio tends to switch itself to the rock and roll station. Rolling down the highway with six other members of The Lost at your back with Iron Maiden blasting from the radio was the highlight of my time with The Lost and the Damned.

 

The club ethos extends to gameplay as well. If you’re going on a tough mission, you can call two other bikers to ride with you as backup. Members of The Lost are willing to fight and die for each other in battle, something that makes missions a hell of a lot easier. The sometimes-caustic difficulty in Grand Theft Auto IV is reined in with this addition of teammates.

 

It’s a lot easier to get stuff, too. Call the club, and they’ll bring you a van full of illegal weapons. The new weapons are a delight to use. Pipe bombs are essentially the same thing as grenades, but having a fully automatic shotgun makes a hell of a difference in battle. Ditto for the new sawed-off and automatic pistol. If I could get a samurai sword, this game would be complete.

 

Speaking of cool new stuff, The Lost and the Damned features entirely new content on the radio and TV. Radio is a mixed bag. The rock station is dramatically improved with a fantastic mix of classic hits and more obscure tracks, but the rest of the stations are noticeably worse. Worse of all, Radio Broker sucks.

At least the new stuff on TV is funny. This DLC comes with new episodes of Republican Space Rangers and a new anime spoof, Princess Robot Bubblegum. Republican Space Rangers is hilariously vulgar and completely awesome. Seriously, it’s worth buying The Lost and the Damned just for the two new episodes of RSR. They are brilliant. Princess Robot Bubblegum was pretty good too, although I didn’t get a lot of the jokes. This is what happens when you don’t watch anime.

The Lost and the Damned is not Grand Theft Auto V. Those of you expecting another 60-hour epic, temper your expectations. This is a smaller story intended to run parallel to Niko’s. It’s also not a mind-blowingly amazing piece of gaming, but it is a lot of fun. If you enjoyed Grand Theft Auto IV, then this DLC is a great excuse to spend some more time in Liberty City. I was sad to see the story end when everything was done. It was a hell of a ride.

 

You know what they say… brothers for life, lost forever.

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