I got pretty bold a couple of weeks ago when I predicted a bright future for DLC in 2009, as it was swiftly followed by a disappointing insubstantial downloadable outing for Fable II and the divisive Operation Anchorage for Fallout 3, which I happened to like but probably didn’t live up to most people’s expectations.
I can count on Rockstar to bail me out, though, because The Lost and Damned is fantastic.
For a start, I must comment on pricing. 1,600 points (£13.60) for a good 10-12 hours of GTA IV, with production values at least as high as the main game – sterling voice work, impeccable cut-scene direction, new licensed music, new things to do, etc – and some improvements of its own, not least of all the much-requested mid-mission checkpoints. It’s so far made me remember why I loved this game so much, and frankly puts the usual quick and dirty 2-3 hours that we’ve come to expect from DLC to shame.
Credit is also due for giving it a unique feel of its own, rather than being beholden to what was set out in GTA IV. It turns Liberty City, which remains a brilliant place to explore, into a platform for future expansions like this, and gives you just enough crossover to give you a kick when Niko makes a cameo or you hear about something from his misadventures on the radio. The biker culture that it revels in is also far from the immigrant experience of Niko and feels strong enough to support a full game. I’d even go as far as to say that people who disliked Niko and his friends and couldn’t deal with his frequent Anakin Skywalker moments will like this better.
Plus I didn’t hear one utterance about “American tee-tees”, which is always a bonus.
I’m making this quite a short post because I’ve written at length about how good GTA IV is (impressions, post-mortem) and this is ultimately more of the same, but I’m in love with the game all over again. Fuck the haters because they’re quite simply wrong: GTA IV rocks and so does this DLC.