By Sam Coles:
Downloadable content gets a lot of flak these days because it has replaced the more superior expansion pack. In 2009 Rockstar games released their first expansion to Grand Theft Auto IV which was at the time exclusive to the Xbox 360, which was titled The Lost and the Damned. This was eventually released as a standalone product in the form of Episodes from Liberty City with The Ballad of Gay Tony.
The Lost and the Damned is a tale about a biker gang called The Lost; you play as Johnny the vice president of the club who is leading the chapter for the time being as the president Billy Grey in prison. Billy is finally on parole and chaos begins as he is a drug riddled psychopath and begins killing people who he doesn’t like or people who look at him in a funny way. The story of this game is very familiar if you’ve watched any episode of Sons of Anarchy as it has the same conflicts within the motorcycle club coupled with shady deals with third parties.
Gameplay is left mostly unchanged from GTA IV with the same driving action except you’re on a motorcycle most of the time generally when you’re in missions. They have added stats for your fellow gang members, but honestly I didn’t notice any difference in their abilities and performance so it just seems to be there for aesthetic. They’ve added new weapons to the roster like the double barrelled shotgun which can be used for drive by shooting on bikes which causes huge damage to cars, the Striker shotgun which is a fast automatic shotgun which can destroy vehicles in seconds, the auto pistol which isn’t very good in my opinion and the grenade launcher which is self-explanatory.
When you’re riding in a convoy with your fellow biker mates on the way to missions a Lost MC logo will pop on the road, if you ride on that logo for a bit it will give you a bit of armour or health if you’re below 100%. I like this feature because it keeps the game flowing and you don’t have to stop and faff about at a hotdog stand or in the local Burger Shot. They added in a new race type as well which is super fun where it is in the style of Road Rash where you race on bikes and you’re equipped with baseball bats and you can smash your opponents off their bikes and leave them in the gutter, this mode is a lot of fun which I could play over and over again.
Graphically the game looks far better than the base GTA IV game because they’ve cleared up the visuals and gave an extra bit of polish so the character models don’t look as weird as they did in the original game. The visuals are no longer murky or blurry with the strange depth of field effect removed. The frame rate is much better in this expansion as well as it runs smoother when you’re riding at high speeds, but it does drop when there are a lot of explosions and police cars on screen, but that is a limitation of the technology more than anything. Overall presentation is a big step up from the original base game.
GTA IV Lost and the Damned is a great expansion and shows how to add longevity to a game and players are willing to support a game post release if you give them an incentive to. You can find this in the stand alone pack for cheap or if you don’t own GTA IV get the game of the year edition which comes with everything.