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Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

Nearly a year after Grand Theft Auto IV exploded onto the market, the first in a series of long-promised downloadable episodes is finally here. Packing in a surprisingly meaty single-player campaign and a clutch of new multiplayer modes, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned veers sharply away from GTA IV’s immigrant story to focus on Liberty City’s biker underground. Or, more aptly, what’s left of it.


 

The bikers of The Lost and Damned are the sad dregs of a culture that hasn’t been relevant – in the game or in real life – for at least 30 years. They’re battle-scarred, middle-aged thugs, living on past glories and drug money, and at their center is Johnny Klebitz, the episode’s protagonist. Level-headed but tough, Johnny’s been leading The Lost Motorcycle Club while its real president, Billy Grey, languishes in court-ordered rehab. As the episode opens, Billy’s a free man again, ready to retake the reins of power and utterly shatter the peace Johnny’s worked hard to build.

You can probably already see where this is going to go.

Over the course of the ensuing 23 story missions (which will take around eight to 10 hours to finish, if you charge straight through), Johnny engages in the usual assortment of thefts, assassinations, rescues and all-out gun battles that have become staples of the series. And he’ll usually engage in them while on a motorbike, so it’s a good thing that bikes have been radically retooled to be much more stable, and therefore much more fun.

Most of the missions don’t offer anything that GTA IV’s didn’t (apart from mid-mission checkpoints, which are a godsend), but there are a couple of unique moments. In one mission, you’ll need to switch to a second-person perspective (that of the people chasing you, complete with their dialogue) in order to make sure that your pursuers are following you into an ambush. In another, you’ll have to keep a familiar character under control during a clueless kidnapping attempt, which doesn’t introduce any new gameplay elements but is more simultaneously sad and hilarious than anything else in the episode.

A few of the missions also pit you against ridiculous numbers of enemies, and there’s a good reason for that: as a senior member of the Lost, Johnny rarely does anything without the help of at least one or two of his “brothers.” At first, he’ll tag along with them, riding in formation (with the help of a badge projected on the road) to trigger revealing dialogue. Later, though, he’ll be able to call on two of them – his friends Terry and Clay, who can also sell him guns and bring him free bikes, respectively – to provide backup. Usually this just means they’ll ride alongside you and act as sidekicks (sometimes bringing along a few more members just in case), but sometimes it can change the structure of a mission, as they’ll do things like set up ambushes for pursuing hitmen.

It’s in your interest to call on Clay and Terry as often as possible, not just because of their oafish help, but also because they’ll gain experience and improve their fighting skills the more they help you. The disposable Lost members they bring along will improve, too, but they also tend to die a lot, so it really doesn’t matter.

The action is strung together by a story that parallels the events of GTA IV, often intersecting with Niko’s narrative. Sharp-eyed players might remember Johnny from his brief appearances during a couple of key missions in GTA IV, and it’s interesting (if weirdly unnerving) to see those familiar events unfold from a different perspective. But this is Johnny’s story, not Niko’s, and so the diamonds and mob politics take a backseat to Johnny’s more personal struggles with his friends and with his own antiquated, often-broken code of brotherhood and loyalty.

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55 comments

  • Greed - July 2, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    First!
  • Forsakenday - May 28, 2009 11:52 a.m.

    I got this recently and I love it. Its so awesome Johnny is badass. Get it if you got the money.
  • Japanjack - February 24, 2009 5:12 a.m.

    :/ Everything on Live Marketplace is getting more and more expensive . .
  • iluvmyDS - February 20, 2009 6:49 p.m.

    @understudybass: This is a multiplatform site. Just because Mikel is the Playstation editor doesn't mean he only reviews PS3 games. He took journalism for a reason. Besides, wouldn't only doing PS3 games make him "biased"? ;]
  • iluvmyDS - February 20, 2009 6:46 p.m.

    That's a lot of funny money to spend. Thanks Microsoft. It sounds worth it though.
  • Gameguy151 - February 19, 2009 1 p.m.

    just for the record, the "Assault Shotgun" is the DAD-X Protecta out of Army of Two. and for everyone wondering, TLAD gets that one point taken off for it's completely abrupt ending...
  • otharu - February 19, 2009 12:11 a.m.

    wow by minute 1:37 Niko appeared (i think)
  • fatcat275 - February 18, 2009 7:55 p.m.

    makes me wish i had x-box live even more. and a 360.
  • MilitaryRaiden - February 18, 2009 1:19 p.m.

    Great review and the added comparison between other DLCs an excellent option which keeps things in perspective: TLAD might be a game expansion but it sets the bar for DLC from now on - it's the closest thing to a whole new game and is much better than many games already on the market. I'm playing the game, taking my time and enjoying it immensely - the radio talk, the obscene variety of extras, the new weapons, music, bike-handling, the characters - amazing!! A must-buy-and-download all the way. But the first couple of hours trying to by-pass an idiotic region-lock for the dlc from 360 accounts across the map -from Switzerland and France to Australia along with some UK residents- was hellish and downright unnerving. Thank god M$ quickly resolved this issue...
  • theschwartzb - February 18, 2009 11:45 a.m.

    I wish that people like KakashiXIII would stop saying first on the comments, what is so great about being the first to comment, other than the fact that you spent your time hunting for an article on this site that had not been commented on yet? It makes you look especially moronic when you type FIRST OMFG ZOMG FIRSST FIRST when you actually are second.
  • Cwf2008 - February 18, 2009 3:40 a.m.

    Oh dear how else are videogame companies gonna extort money off crappy games? And i thought extortion was illegal anyway...so how do bungie and rockstar get away with it?
  • BeardGuy - February 18, 2009 3:26 a.m.

    So I was all set to download this today but my 360 crashed for the FOURTH time last night. How's that for bad timing? Does anyone else suffer from nervous breakdowns when their 360 dies?
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - February 18, 2009 3:08 a.m.

    @KillDrone: the You'll Love/You'll Hate sections of our reviews aren't meant to be taken as tacit summaries of why the games are getting the scores they're getting. They're an opportunity to sum up key issues, or to praise/dis/just generally recognize anything we didn't address during the review proper. If you want to know why Lost and Damned got a nine instead of a 10, read the review instead of just zeroing in on the last box.
  • super-saint - February 18, 2009 2:58 a.m.

    im dowlaoding it right now... unfotunalty its at at 40% and now i really really wnat to play it
  • Amatarasu - February 18, 2009 2:02 a.m.

    also,WHY THE HELL IS THIS TAKING SO LONG TO DOWNLOAD?!
  • heartskuppy - February 18, 2009 1:45 a.m.

    looks like i'll be renting a 360 some time in the near future.
  • Samael - February 18, 2009 1:37 a.m.

    Downloaded it today, very fun so far.
  • Ravenbom - February 18, 2009 1:15 a.m.

    Playstation Editor Wikiparaz reviewing an Xbox exclusive! Bias! GamesRadar is totally in Microsoft's pocket! Bias! :P j/k Semi-serious, shouldn't you give this a 10 so Rockstar doesn't hate you like they hate OXM for the GTAIV 9.5?
  • Ddz53 - February 18, 2009 12:50 a.m.

    Seems great
  • jamminontha1n2 - February 18, 2009 12:43 a.m.

    I hope they make a video guide of how to find the seagulls.

Showing 1-20 of 55 comments

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