While the idea of PC based add-ons for your favourite games may be as old as the hills, extra content for console titles is still in its infancy. It’s down to those talented folk at Rockstar who seem intent on bringing the option right to the fore, with The Lost and Damned.
An exclusive add-on for the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV, The Lost and Damned promises to offer a brand new way of looking at Liberty City. Now Niko’s tale is all tied up, this time you take control of the story of Johnny Klebitz and The Lost and Damned biker gang.
With gameplay exactly the same as the brilliant GTA IV, you can jump headfirst into the dozen hours of single-player gaming you’ll receive in exchange for your 1600 Microsoft Points. Johnny’s story is certainly a lot darker than Niko’s chronicle, and you’ll struggle to empathize with a blatantly quite rotten star. Where Niko seemed to have his heart in the right place, Johnny sometimes seems like he’s just a total ass.
As part of a biker gang, you’ve a whole wealth of buddies ready and willing to help you out. Find yourself in a tricky situation and a swift phone call will open up options to bag a few cheap pieces of heavy weaponry, and even get the rest of the gang down for a scrap.
But this group dynamic is much extended from merely having another few sets of hands alongside you. As you fight alongside your buddies, they become more experienced and start to pack a lot more talent in a fight. You’ll truly try your very best to make sure your favourites stay alive as they fight alongside you, particularly as once they die, they’re gone from the game world, only to be replaced by a complete and utter novice. And who wants someone who’s barely held a gun before having your back?
That’s not all that’s new. In addition to a few expanded radio stations - though not half as many new tunes as we’d hoped for - there’s a variety of new vehicles and weaponry on offer. Johnny’s classy bike is a real high point, and certainly has the feel of something a lot more stable and solid than the offerings in GTA IV. Plus, a few new weapons include the fantastic grenade launcher which can easily force the game to show vehicles and people flying off in wild directions with a well placed shot.
But as nice as all these additions are, don’t expect to add these new weapons to Niko’s tale. Both the original GTA IV and The Lost and Damned are entirely separate entities, and hence there’s no chance to stash the grenade launcher in Niko’s armoury. A shame, but to be expected. There are a few touches of crossover between the two stories, and the chance to see a couple of missions through a new pair of eyes is a certain draw.
All is still very GTA with missions sharing a lot with the variety of offerings in GTA IV. Sadly there’s nothing that hits the fantastic heights of Four Leaf Clover, and the same old routine of go here, do that, is sadly still the norm. Things are shaken up a touch towards the very end of the story, but by then you’ve ploughed through a lot of what you’ve experienced previously.
It’s a shame there’s an overall lack of innovation. As fantastic as GTA IV was, it seemed to be a step backwards from earlier titles in the series in terms of mission’s variety. And The Lost and Damned suffers from the same flaw.
Add-ons may still be new to the console world, but if they're all like this one, then we certainly won’t be complaining if they keep on coming.
Offering a good weeks’ worth of gaming for the single-player story, as well as a few more multiplayer options, The Lost and Damned will drag you kicking and screaming right back to Liberty City. If only it had a little more mission variety.
£1600 Microsoft Points (£13.60)