The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
At the beginning of Grand Theft Auto IV, Eastern European immigrant
Niko Bellic starts his pursuit of fame and fortune at the bottom of the
social ladder. It’s only fitting that Rockstar Games ends its latest
impressive run of open world masterpieces at the other end of the
spectrum. The Ballad of Gay Tony is Rockstar North’s song of excess,
showcasing Liberty City’s drug-addled trust fund elite, promiscuous
socialites, nitro-fueled luxury sportscars, and military-grade weaponry.
protagonist Luis Lopez may roll with the elite, but he certainly isn’t
one of them; the Dominican ex-convict grew up pulling off petty crimes
in the rough neighborhood of Northwood until legendary nightclub owner
Tony Prince took him under his wing. Lopez quickly finds out that a
two-bit corner boy and a personal assistant to the rich and famous
aren’t so different. As Gay Tony’s once-powerful nightclub empire
spirals out of control due to his excessive drug use and outstanding
debt to shady loansharks, it’s up to Lopez to do the dirty work and
keep the clubs afloat.
Rolling with the rich has its benefits
when it comes to crime. Forget the slow progression to explosive
weapons most Grand Theft Auto games follow, Lopez has almost immediate
access to the finest arms dealers have to offer – attack choppers,
APCs, explosive shotguns, sticky bombs, and my favorite, the P90
assault rifle. The creative new missions Rockstar North crafted put
these destructive new toys to good use; one minute you’re sinking a
luxury yacht with the missile-launching attack chopper, and the next
you’re parachuting from 10,000 feet to infiltrate the high-rise offices
of the crooked Russian owner of the Liberty City Rampage hockey team.
The outlandish nature of most of your missions almost always attracts
the attention of the cops, guaranteeing more thrills than your typical
Throughout the story, Luis is torn between his
allegiance to the lavish new lifestyle Tony provides him and the family
and friends he’s left behind in Northwood. Players won’t feel as bad
leaving his disgruntled mother and hoodrat friends in their wake. The
drug war shootouts Lopez gets into with his childhood friends may be
made from traditional GTA bread and butter, but I found myself ignoring
them in favor of the more explosive missions from Gay Tony or spoiled
Arab playboy Yusuf Amir.
Luis may feel conflicted hanging in the
old neighborhood, but he’s clearly in his element when the drinks are
flowing and the dance floor is bumping at the nightclubs. In the clubs,
players can remove troublemakers, do shots with bartenders, shower
friends with champagne in the VIP room, and dance with the ladies on
the dancefloor. Show her all the right moves and she’ll likely show you
hers in the bathroom stall. Make sure you work at least one management
shift at the nightclub as well; your office employee in the short skirt
will make it worth your time.
When Luis isn’t taking orders and
doing favors for his out of control friends, players can indulge in the
fantastic base jumping and cagefighting side missions or go on a
rampage with the attack chopper or APC. The multiplayer also gets new
content to amp up the action; the frantic GTA races now feature nitro
boosts, and the new deathmatch maps focus on close quarters combat.
I preferred the tight-knit story of brotherhood and betrayal in The
Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony delivers more explosive
weapons, death-defying missions, and off-the-wall characters. Don’t
miss your chance to close out the GTA IV experience in style.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.