Friday, March 6, 2009

Lost And Damned

I was really excited to see the release of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost And Damned last month as I had been anticipating it since it was announced, with it being my excuse to return to the unpredictable streets of Liberty City.

It did not disappoint either, with a smile instantly spreading across my face as I watched the introduction and realised that I was about to embark on a new adventure, one that was offering a different perspective on the Liberty City I had come to know and love. With the game handing control over to me once more, I soon forgot about the excitement and immediately focused on immersing myself within the story. I'm not quite sure what it is but Grand Theft Auto has always had a way of grabbing my attention from the get-go and keeping me entertained for hours with the new expansion being no exception. My first session lasted for over four hours and in that time I was able to get reacquainted with the controls, familiarise myself with the city again, learn about some of the new characters and enjoy some of the new things on offer including arm wrestling and air hockey. I was also able to look at the new in-game Internet and TV show content, as well as listen to the new songs available across the various radio stations. Combine them with the music and activities already accustomed to in Niko's adventures and GTA IV: The Lost And Damned ends up providing a new, fresh perspective on Liberty City that also remains familiar.

Rockstar's decision to set the majority of the expansion in the state of Alderney only enforces this further as the area is one rarely seen when compared to the likes of Broker or Algonquin in the main quest. With Johnny Klebitz's -- the main character of The Lost And Damned -- story running parallel to Niko's, subtle nods here and there are reminders to the player of what has happened before and provides a sense of familiarity to players while gently easing them into the new perspective. I found it quite fascinating and was reminded of my favourite show, The Wire, because of how it focuses on something different while retaining reminders and references to what has previously occurred. Even the credits at the end of Johnny's story contain subtle hints towards the events of Niko's story and I give full credit to Rockstar for successfully managing to pull it off, though it comes as no surprise given their extreme attention to detail.

As is obvious from this post, I thoroughly enjoyed playing through The Lost And Damned. I now look look forward to using the weekend to finish up on what I need to do in order to reach 100% completion as well as detailing some more of my thoughts here. Until then, stay safe and as always happy gaming.


Natrak said...

One thing that really impressed me was how well they sold Johnny as a biker. I'd just feel weird jumping in a car or a helicopter as Johnny, and with the improved handling I was always riding on a Hexer rather than in a cage.

Steven O'Dell said...

Yep, I agree. Whenever I had lost my bike I always made sure I rang up one of the brothers for a new Hexer.

It did annoy me though when I had a Turismo or something and begun a mission, watched the cutscene and then when I resumed play I was on a Hexer again. I mean I can understand reinforcing the point that Johnny is a biker and even appreciate it, but having that sudden and random change occur (more than once) took me out of the immersion I had in the game and that irked me a little.