While this generation of gaming has seen its fair share of innovation, there are two particular examples that should be considered definitive. One of these is the motion-sensing capabilities of Nintendo’s “Wii-mote”; at this point, that’s probably a no-brainer. The other is a little less obvious, but I’d like to nominate the veritable explosion of DLC, or downloadable content.
Especially in these relatively tight financial times, DLC offers a less expensive way to extend a gaming experience. Occasionally you get stuff like the much-maligned “horse armor” DLC from Bethesda (which was basically a $2.50 costume for your character’s horse), but let’s not forget that Bethesda also gave us The Shivering Isles. The Shivering Isles was a 30+ hour expansion to the already gargantuan Oblivion, and all for the low, low price of $20.
Well, now it’s Rockstar’s turn to deliver an Xbox 360-exclusive DLC expansion to Grand Theft Auto 4, and let’s just say that they definitely took the Shivering Isles route. $20 price tag? Check. Expansion larger than many full-priced games? Check. Good enough reason to revisit an old favorite? Check and mate!
In The Lost and Damned you play as Johnny Kleibitz, a.k.a. Jonny the Jew, a tough-as-nails, street-hardened, biker club V.P. The game begins with the gang’s president, Billy, getting out of rehab. While Johnny has been running the gang they have experienced a period of relative peace and prosperity. Billy is having none of it. Debauchery and death to his enemies are at the top of Billy’s list, consequences be damned.
I won’t summarize the full story, but suffice it to say that it’s pretty typically Grand Theft Auto. If you like the series you’ll enjoy this chapter. The missions are familiar but the context is different enough to make them fun and all of GTA’s usual humor, satire and over-the-top profanity survive intact.
While GTA 4 was generally a solo act, The Lost and Damned plays more like an ensemble piece. You normally have the accompaniment of several members of your gang for backup, and it’s pretty cool to coast down the street in formation while listening to the guys around you strike up a conversation. It adds a certain camaraderie to the experience that’s actually quite refreshing.
Since The Lost and Damned is about a motorcycle gang, it’s to be expected that the game is more bike-centric than previous iterations. While a source of irritation in the past, the biking mechanics have been tweaked and are now a joy to control. Power-sliding around corners never felt so satisfying.
Additionally, The Lost and Damned introduces several new cars, new motorcycles, new multiplayer modes and new weapons. The sawed-off shotgun is in a class all its own.
In short, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to prolong an already amazing experience, The Lost and Damned should be right up your alley.