Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Also on: N/A (Xbox 360 Exclusive)
Console Played on: Xbox 360
Release Date: Tuesday February 17th 2009
Rating: PEGI 18
It’s been 10 months since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV for PLAYSTATION 3 and Xbox 360 when we gave the game a 10/10
and while it was severely overhyped, it was a fantastic game.
Now, 10 months later, while all PS3 owners get to play through the same story again for trophies, Xbox 360 owners get the 1st of two episodes for the Xbox 360 verison of the game with a second coming sometime this year (hopefully).
The question though is this, is The Lost and Damned as good as the main game and does Johnny Klebitz outshine Niko Bellic?
You play as Johnny Klebitz who is the vice-president of The Lost, a biker gang who have been leaderless until the start of the game. In the intro for the game (you’ll see a cameo from Niko in the intro as well), you and your “brothers” go to meet Billy Grey, the president of The Lost who’s just been released from a rehabillation clinic on probation.
What follows is a power struggle for control of The Lost which sees a split in the gang.
The game takes place in parallel with the story in GTA IV which is why you’ll see many familar faces from the main game.
Several characters from GTA IV return including Ray Bochino, Elizabeta Torres as well as Niko and Roman Bellic although anytime you see Niko in The Lost and Damned, bar the intro, is from bits already in the game like Buyers Market which sees you revisit the mission where you escape a botched drug deal and another mission where you visit the Libertonian for another drug deal gone bad.
Roman makes an appaearence in The Lost and Damned as well where, unlike Niko, his bit part in the game is entirely new for the game.
There are references too to other GTA IV characters in the game who you dont see in The Lost and Damned, an example would be Dimitri Rascalov.
The story is long enough to go for at 10 – 12 hours before you finish it, depending on how you play through it. This is a very good rate for a game to finish at despite the fact that GTA IV took over a week to finish.
The story in The Lost and Damned is well… meh like. Unlike Niko, where he was a geniunely great character for a GTA game who you could feel with, Johnny Klebitz is nothing like Niko, he just feels like a general character in the game and not a main character to play through as.
If you die during a mission, we’re happy to report you dont have to go back to the beginning of the mission all over again. Instead, you’d begin from where the last cut-scene was and try again from that checkpoint. We think this works well so we hope this gets included into future GTA games.
When we review GTA IV last year, we said the focus is more or less on Liberty City itself, not Niko. Well, thats changed somewhat in The Lost and Damned. It’s focus is based on The Lost and the bikes which you control on.
When you played GTA IV, the bikes were easy to fall off from, they didn’t handle exactly well in the game but in The Lost and Damned, the bikes have been re-worked on to handle better and to make sure you have less of a chance to fall off from and in honesty, it works well. I actually felt that I wanted to drive a bike instead throughout the game and not a car unlike GTA IV itself.
In The Lost and Damned, you also have new toys to play with like new weapons like pipe bomb’s, automatic and sawn-off shotgun’s, automatic pistol and a grenade launcher as well as new vehcles and multiplayer types like Witness Protection (where one team, as bikers, have to try and take out a bus carrying witness protection custonians while the cops try and defend it), Race (a re-working of Race in GTA IV only with bikes and bats), Chopper vs Chopper (bikers on choppers vs pilots in helicopters trying to stop the bikers) and more.
The game’s graphical style is still very good but it has aged a bit in 10 months which shows how impressive graphics are getting in games these days. You also have a grain filter which you’ll notice in gameplay and in cut-scenes during the game. Truth be told, it doesnt do the game a whole lot of good and infact, it harms it more then putting it to good use. It really doesn’t go well with the game at all, if you want a perfect example of a game which works with a grain filter, go for Mass Effect.
While the story in The Lost and Damned isn’t as good as GTA IV’s, for what it’s worth, the voicework in The Lost and Damned is still top notch. As well as that, an improved soundtrack for The Lost and Damned and more makes it an impressive package.
Overall: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned is sort of a mixed bag. It has a decent story but it isn’t on par with GTA IV’s story and the graphics are still as good as they were in the main game but have dated in 10 months and with the inclusion of a grain filter, it doesn’t help.
On the other hand, with refined controls, new and impressive multiplayer modes, new stuff added to it and an impressive soundtrack which has been expanded a fair deal, you do get your money’s worth from The Lost and Damned.
Story – 8: It’s very good that The Lost and Damned intervines with GTA IV but the main story does feel a little meh, nothing on the story in Grand Theft Auto IV.
Gameplay – 9: Still the same old GTA IV gameplay but thats no bad thing, especially with refined controls for bikes. Plus, loads of new toys added like new weapons and new multiplayer modes.
Graphics – 7: It looks good but the fact it looks slightly dated brings it down to 8. The grain filter brings it to a 7, it doesnt work at all.
Sound – 8: Impressive voice-acting and a great sountrack expanded to a even better standard, really good.
Overall – 8: While it has several flaws in the package, you do get your money’s worth from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned.
Hopefully, Episode Two is a bit better in story terms.
Other then that, you cant go wrong with 1600 Microsoft Points and The Lost and Damned.