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Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

And, of course, there’s multiplayer. The Lost and Damned brings no fewer than nine modes to accompany its single-player campaign, six of which are completely new. Of these, the most fun is easily Witness Protection, which tasks one team (the Lost) with murdering state’s witnesses before the other team (the SWAT-like NOOSE agents) can transport them to safety in an armored bus. Running a close second is the Race mode, which is just a multiplayer take on the clobber-happy Road Rash races of the single-player game.

Lone Wolf Biker is a hellish game of tag for up to 16 crazed bikers, Own the City tasks players with taking over patches of turf (which are then defended by computer-controlled guards) and Club Business is a biker-flavored take on the main game’s objective-based Mafiya Work mode. Finally, Chopper vs Chopper is an insane, two-man cat-and-mouse game between a lone motorcyclist and the pilot of a heavily armed attack helicopter. It’s fun, especially if you’re good at piloting the game’s choppers and only have one friend to play with.

All of this comes for the princely sum of 1600 Microsoft Points (or $20, or around £13), which is of course on top of what you’ve already spent for Grand Theft Auto IV, needed to play the DLC. Considering what it offers for that price – which, for the record, is an entirely new game set in the same city – it’s impossible to give The Lost and Damned anything but a full recommendation. The story and acting are great, the missions are enjoyable and riding around on the retooled bikes is the most fun it’s been in any GTA since Vice City. It’s not going to change the minds of any Niko-haters, but anyone itching to delve back into Liberty City should grab it now.

Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage? Yes. While Operation Anchorage offers up a whole new area to explore, it’s too short and limited to really stand up to The Lost and Damned’s beefy narrative and raft of cool additions.

Fable II: Knothole Island? Oh god yes. Knothole Island’s brief run time and single quest barely qualify it as a mission pack. If Lost and Damned is a sandwich, then Knothole Island is a carrot stick.

Mass Effect: Bring Down the Sky? Yes. While introducing a new race and a new world is nothing to sniff at, the Bring Down the Sky expansion was, ultimately, just a quest add-on. Lost and Damned is more substantial by far.

The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles? It’s a draw. Both are top-notch productions, and in terms of the amount of new content offered, this is the only DLC add-on that can really compare with The Lost and Damned. Because both offer so much, and because the one you like better will invariably depend on whether you prefer open-world RPGs or open-world crimesplodaganzas, it’s almost impossible to declare a clear winner.

Feb 17, 2009