x360a Review: GTA IV's The Lost and Damned DLC

Dan Webb

So this is what 50 million dollars worth of downloadable content feels like huh? Well, let’s hope Microsoft get their cheque book out more often. We won’t kid you, this downloadable content isn’t worth $50 million –  I mean, who has that type of money lying around to spend on DLC anyway. What we do have is 1600 Microsoft Points and we can’t think of any better way to extend our experience of Liberty City. The Lost and Damned is the first episode for last year’s spring hit GTA IV from the guys and gals over at Rockstar, and from our point of view, we hope it’s the first of many.

The Lost and Damned, unlike the main game, picks up with established biker and resident nut, Johnny Klebitz. Things are running smoothly for Klebitz and his gang, The Lost, until their established and revered leader, Billy Grey, gets released from prison and comes back in to the mix and things get messy ... and fast. You start The Lost and Damned with everything you’ll ever need in Liberty City, whether it's friends, backup, guns or a place to hang, you don't need to work for it. Whilst Niko had to come from nothing and you had to earn all that, the game throws you in at the deep end, in fact, that may be part of the game’s problem. With Niko, you built up a rapport and really got involved in the story, whereas The Lost and Damned throws action mission after action mission at you, so you barely get chance to know your brotherhood before you line up with them. The story is entertaining and fast paced, but nowhere near the heights that GTA IV scaled, and the missions feel a little bit samey, but that only tends to dawn on you after you've put the pad down.  The greatest part of the story is easily the crossover it shares with Niko Bellic's story. Damn that made our spines tingle! I suppose for everyone else, you do get to see some digital "tackle" which was rather surprising but may please some, and this will no doubt upset the tabloid press at some point. Two words for them though; Eastern Promises.

The main draw for The Lost and Damned is its focus on brotherhood and being part of this gang. The ability to call on your brothers for cheap guns, bikes and even backup really makes you feel like part of a unit (that is not a digital tackle pun). Then there is the fantastic new riding formation which works in a few ways. If you are following the leader, to get the most of it, you’ll have to stay in formation which will be indicated every so often by a floating emblem; then when you’ve been there long enough, it will initiate dialogue with your gang members, heal you and your bike. It truly is an epic sight to see you ride in formation and portrays a great feeling of togetherness. Just don’t get too hasty and overtake the leader or you’ll be put in your place with a stern telling off. The other use of the formation is when you call backup, and brothers, Clay and Terry, will ride off your shoulders and mimic your every move and watch your back.

Considering you’ll be spending a lot of time on your bike, you’ll be glad to hear that the bike mechanics have been made a whole lot easier. You can actually get a little speed up and take the corners with a bit of ferocity, especially on the Hexer which has some wide ass tires. For all those worrying about the handling who’ve not yet picked this up yet, fear not, I was garbage on a bike in GTA IV before The Lost and Damned ... now I’m frickin Valentino Rossi!

Whilst the story mode is good for an action packed 8-10 hours, there is plenty more on offer in The Lost and Damned to keep GTA fans busy for hours, in fact, because the game is totally separate of the main game, you can 100% this one as well. Whether you’re good for some road rash style races, gang wars, or even taking your biker buddies to see a show (with a new fantastic British comedian thrown in for good measure too), there is plenty to do for going on 20 hours. Hell, there are even new random characters, seagulls (The Lost & Damned’s version of pigeons) and a vehicle shopping list to keep you occupied, we're just a little disappointed there wasn't another 100% achievement.

To look at The Lost and Damned as a game add-on would be a travesty in itself; not only does the game feature a solid, lengthy main storyline and plenty to do on the side, but it also has a ton of new music, internet sites, interiors and mini games. So whether you want to hang with your brothers and arm wrestle, play hi-lo or even play air hockey, you can. But if you want to get out on the streets and soak up the 55 new songs across the stations, knock yourself out. The music added in covers a whole load of new artists and genres including Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Rod Stewart, The Doors, Sepultura, Saigon, Kanye, John Legend, and many more.

Talking of new, the game also adds a load of new weapons to the arsenal which are available for purchase or are given to you for certain missions. These include, but are not limited to, the grenade launcher, automatic pistol, automatic shotgun and the sawn off shotgun; each of which are great in their own way. Whether you like the “thwunk" and destruction of the grenade launcher, or you like the sheer power and shot rate of the auto shotgun, these are some great additions.

The whole look and feel of The Lost and Damned is much grittier. Right from the moment it boots you in to the new world with Klebitz, you’ll notice the grime; the menus, the HUD, the clubhouse; all made that little bit grimier with the heavy film grain, which can be turned off if it doesn’t float your boat. The game also says a big welcome back to on-rails missions and a hello to mid-mission restarts, so no annoying jaunts to the beginning of a mission if you get caught out on the home straight.

If that wasn’t enough, there are 6 new multiplayer modes to go along with the team deathmatch, deathmatch and free mode; Club Business, Lone Wolf Biker, Chopper vs Chopper, Witness Protection, bike Races and our favourite, Own the City which is an epic sort of team territory game, reminiscent of San Andreas. We could spend hours talking about this aspect alone because of the sheer scale of it and there are some really interesting modes but we'll let you explore them to your heart's content. As always, we firmly believe GTA is about the single player; the multiplayer is just a nice distraction. A few of our favourite modes include; Chopper vs Choppper which pits a bike versus an attack chopper in battle of the checkpoints and Lone Wolf Biker which is a 15 versus 1 multiplayer frenzy.

As for the achievements, they are incredibly easy; the vast majority of which you’ll get through the campaign but the best one of all ... and the most fun, is whacking off 69 riders in the race mode – their words not ours. If you want an easy 250 points, these are them, but they come at a price – 1600 points. Buy this one for the game and get the achievements as a bonus, not vice versa.

To insinuate that The Lost and Damned is downloadable content is almost an insult to the depth and content that is packed into a tiny 1600 Microsoft Point punch. The Lost & Damned ($20, €19 or £13) is as big a bargain as you could possibly ask for and can offer you a hell of a lot more content than your traditional budget titles and even fully blown retail games, but with 50 times the quality. If you loved GTA IV to pieces like us, you’ll love The Lost & Damned, but don’t kid yourself, if you hated it, it’s still GTA IV and chances are it won't change your opinion. The Lost and Damned is tremendous value for money and is certainly a game within a game; welcome to the new standard for downloadable content.

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