Last week, Rockstar visited our UK and US offices to show us the latest instalment of GTA IV's Xbox 360 exclusive DLC - The Ballad Of Gay Tony. Unusually for a game demo, most of the GamesRadar team were able to get substantial hands-on time, and by the end of the day we all had something to say about the new theme, style, weapons, vehicles and altogether more 'San Andreas-y' feeling missions.
For the uninitiated, Ballad focuses on a new protagonist, Luis Lopez, bodyguard and business partner to nightclub baron “Gay” Tony Prince. As the richest of GTA IV’s three protagonists, Luis has access to better cars and better guns than Niko or Johnny, including Belgian P-90 assault rifles, C4 sticky bombs and rapid-fire auto-shotguns that fire explosive rounds. He also has more activities available to him, including a dancing minigame, randomly generated side missions at his club, BASE jumping from an assortment of buildings and the ability to replay any completed missions.
What we saw during our international hands-on was a thorough introduction to some of Ballad’s new characters, weapons and acitivities, as well as three missions. The first, “Dropping In,” was a showcase for the episode’s new parachuting and skydiving action, as Luis dropped into the penthouse offices of the local hockey team. He then murdered the owner and his bodyguards, all the while keeping in touch with his new boss Timur (actually a henchman for GTA IV heavy Bulgarin) via a Bluetooth headset, before leaping out a window and floating safely down to the back of a moving flatbed truck.
The next two missions introduced us to Yusuf Amir, who GTA IV fans might remember as the developer from Dubai that Playboy X was trying to suck up to. First up was “For the Man Who Has Everything,” which involved Luis inching his way along the top of a moving subway train, ducking overpasses and police choppers, all so he could decouple the lead car and enable Yusuf to steal it by helicopter. Next was “Sexy Time,” which required Luis to steal aboard a gigantic yacht, jack an experimental helicopter and then sink the enormous luxury boat before its occupants could shoot him down.
So, that's what we've played of The Ballad of Gay Tony so far. What did we think? Rather than single out one writer to write up his thoughts, we thought we'd give everyone a shout - that's the venerable Mikel Reparaz from our US office and Dave Meikleham, Dave Houghton, Matt Cundy and Nathan Irvine from the UK. We've set up the preview as a question and answer arrangement with all the editors giving their spin on six talking points. If you want any more info, send them a PM, drop us a line on Twitter or leave a message in the comments.
Read on for official GR opinion...