GTA IV: The Ballad Of Gay Tony - What GR editors thought

"It’s a toss-up between the skydiving, which was a lot of fun and which I proved to be really good at, and the mission where you’re riding on top of a subway so that Yusuf can steal one of the cars.

"I liked the sense of speed and the wind drag slowing Luis down, and I liked that he occasionally had to flatten himself against the car when a tunnel came along. But mostly I liked tearing attack choppers apart with the explosive auto-shotgun. That was pretty badass." (MR)

"A stratospherically high parachute mission gave me the most spectacular view of Liberty City I've enjoyed yet. The sheer scale of Liberty City is *still* utterly mind blowing. I'm glad the parachute's back." (MC)

"The sky-diving infiltration mission really brought home to me how much of a scaled-up, San-Andreas-crazy feel Rockstar seems to be bringing to Gay Tony. Parachuting to the top of a skyscraper from not far below cloud level before butter-knifing down through it with a P90 has exactly the right balance of brutality and ludicrous carnival decadence." (DH)

"The epic fight atop the train carriage that the crazy Yusuf character wants to steal. Blowing SWAT team choppers out of the sky with the new shotgun is bags of fun." (NI)

How does it stack up against the original game and Lost and The Damned?

"At its best, GTA has always been about playing with toys we’d never be able to touch in real life, and that’s what the chunk of Ballad I played through delivered. In terms of gameplay, I like that there’s more stuff to do, even if certain things - like the dancing minigame - are likely going to be throwaway asides I’ll probably try once and then forget about.

"Otherwise, what we’ve seen so far seems to be in line with the last two installments in terms of mission complexity and scope - although I’ll withhold judgment until I’ve had a chance to play through more." (MR)

"I’m definitely more excited about it than I was about LatD. It keeps the grit and texture of GTA IV, but blends it with so much gleefully exaggerated lunacy as to feel almost like a GTA theme park ride." (DH)

"Again, a bit early too say. But the change in tone from angst-ridden bikers to a paranoia-filled jaunt of base-jumping, criminals caught in their kecks and flamboyant nightclubs seems more in keeping with the series’ previous sense of fun." (DM)

"More comedy, outrageous weapons and more variety of things to do in Liberty City equals a more unique experience than the last two." (NI)

"It looks every bit as incredible and feels every bit as playable as both previous Liberty City excursions. But, fundamentally, there's no drastic difference - it's still trademark GTA. Anyone that's interested knows exactly what that means by now." (MC)

Is it 'gay' enough?

"It’s kind of hard to tell from what we saw - I think the idea of an openly gay character playing a big role in the story is intriguing, if only because it’s venturing into territory that the game industry is still obviously uncomfortable with. I’m interested to see whether Rockstar uses Tony Prince’s apparent homosexuality as a humanizing character trait, or if they just play it for laughs." (MR)

"Admittedly we’re going to have to get further into the rampant glam of Gay Tony’s club realm before we can see just how glitzed-up this GTA is, but between the daylight, city-based missions and Luis’ dour persona, I felt like the only nod to the sparkly madness we were hoping for was the multi-coloured reskin of the options menu. I want eye-searing neon and flaming camp, goddamnit." (DH)

"Well, the menus are a bit pink. Does that count as gay? To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Look at GTA IV, everyone bangs on about how amazingly gritty it was. But, last time I checked, bombing around in a bright orange sports car, while wearing a thousand buck suit and listening to 80s rock wasn’t exactly the definition of grit." (DM)

"The neon gradients, soft sparkles and liberal use of pink are all well and good, but that promise of 'flamboyant playfulness' wasn't really bursting through in any of the demo's characters or scenarios. The Rockstar rep assured me that it would be more evident when playing from start to finish. And, in fairness, I didn't get to meet Gay Tony or check out his club, so... I think the logo and trailers filled my head with glittery thoughts and I was expecting a little more than pink mission markers." (MC)

The Ballad of Gay Tony will be available to buy on disc as one part of Episodes from Liberty City, which will also include the much celebrated first episode, The Lost and Damned. Episodes from Liberty City will be available in stores on October 29th, 2009 for $39.99/£34.99. You do not need to own a copy of the original GTAIV to play Episodes From Liberty City. The Ballad of Gay Tony will also be available separately as a download on October 29th, 2009 for 1600 Microsoft points.