X360 Sunday, February 8, 2009 | 2:00 PM

GTA IV: DLC hands-on

GTA IV: DLC hands-on

Last week Gamersyde was invited to a – short – presentation of Grand Theft Auto IV’s upcoming DLC, The Lost and Damned. With Snoopers all dressed in a very trendy down jacket, we faced the cold of winter to see what it was all about. First impressions inside.




The Lost and Damned should be considered as an additional episode taking place in the Grand Theft Auto IV world. Much like a spin-off, you’ll get to run into some old acquaintances from the previous game and of course wander around the streets of good old Liberty City. Things are not all the same though since the eyes through which you will see the story are no longer those of a freshly arrived immigrant from Eastern Europe. Now you’re an all tattooed “Libertan” biker born in the USA, which is pretty logical after all as we now know the city pretty well after hours spent on GTA IV.

No more Niko then – though you will run into him during this all new adventure. The main character is called Johnny and he belongs to the Losts, a gang run by Billy, a guy that is about as tender as overcooked beef. Billy’s back from rehab after being arrested with a good amount of dope he preferred to claim was his to use to avoid jail. He’s pissed as ever at the Angels of Death, the rival gang that has been at war with the Losts for as long as anyone can remember. Johnny has a more pragmatic view of the situation as he has come to realize that this war is starting to be bad for business for both parties. Right from the start, it’s quite obvious that the two friends will not be on the same wavelength.



From what we could see during the presentation, it doesn’t seem like the game is going to offer real new situations mission-wise. It will still be about delivering packages or going from point A to point B by bike with a pinch of car chases or gunfights in between so you can measure up against Blues or Angels. Nothing new then but the formula still works well and we hope the game offers as much pace as what we saw in one of the missions. Indeed, we particularly liked what was really just a simple rail shooting sequence where Johnny was sitting at the back of a motorbike and shooting the cops that were after them. It was all very dynamic and with the change in camera angles from time to time, it really felt like an action movie – at some point a gas station exploded and the camera switched to show the bike driving away from it for a few seconds. Nice and immersive, that’s what it was!

One of the new features of the game is some kind of management system for your squad which can be upgraded in the course of the game. By maintaining the relationship between Johnny and his fellow bikers, their aiming skills can improve for example. All you have to do is to stay in formation when you drive your bike to the mission objective. Some – huge – icon appears on the road and you must stick to it long enough for a dialog sequence to start – much like what happened automatically in the previous games when you went somewhere by car. It forces you to adjust your speed all the time which does not feel very natural when you think of it. It’s not a bad idea per se but we can’t say we saw a real difference with our teammates in the mission that followed. However, the fact that you can lose one of your men and have him replaced by someone with basic statistics might bring a bit of tactic to the game.



Some new mini-games are also planned – among which arm wrestling, which should remind something to Ryo Hazuki’s fans – but unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of them. We were able to try some of the cool new – and powerful - weapons such as a grenade launcher or a sawed-off rifle. On the other hand, we weren’t given the number of new songs that will be added to the game’s soundtrack – we expect rock to have a great part so becoming an easy rider is more natural – nor were we told about the number of new vehicles – we still saw an old rusty wrecker that would have pleased Cooter for sure. No clue about the longevity of the game either, not even the total number of missions included. We were promised that players will get something worth the price but given it’ll cost you 1600 MS points, we still need some convincing it was not just some marketing talk.

Visually and technically speaking, the game remains the yardstick it was when it was released and it even looks sharper somehow. Rockstar added a grainy filter that not only gives the game a very cinematic touch but also makes some of the visual flaws less obvious. The artistic direction has also been tweaked a little so as to fit perfectly with the biker mood and we thought it looked great.



The Lost and Damned may not bring that much more to GTA IV but it will undoubtedly please all those who just needed an excuse to go back to Liberty City and have some more fun there. We aren’t quite convinced yet about the new characters’ charisma but hey, coming after Niko Bellik is no easy task.

All comments

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Commented on 2009-02-08 14:30:42
A reason for me to play some more GTA-IV, I will buy and download this for sure.. The game doesn't look it's best in static screenshots btw, and there's a lot of blur in the console version, but it still looks good enough for me.. The whole scale of things, freedom, and good storytelling makes it a lot of fun to play..
Commented on 2009-02-08 14:48:09
Those graphics are SO misleading. The game looks nowhere near as clean as that. That was one of my main gripes with this game. How damn blurry, poppy and laggy it ran compared to the trailers they showed.
Commented on 2009-02-08 15:26:22
I think the graphics in those screens are pretty much dead on to the actual game. There is nothing really impressive about them if you really look.
The only reason why any of these might look better than the way the game actually is, is because they took cinematic camera shots that you'll never witness while playing the game.
Commented on 2009-02-08 15:28:28
I'd give it a shot if they fix the bloody hopeless checkpoints!

I loved this game, my GOTY 2008, but I absolutely DESPISE the thought of having to drive accross town to the mission objective, from there follow someone back accross town by car, trying to kill him while driving and remaining on the road yourself, then switch over to a boat chase, then aboard mainland again to follow him on foot again, only to be killed at the very last bit and have to do ALL THAT ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

That's one thing I TRULY HATE about the GTA series...
Commented on 2009-02-08 15:50:27
I'd much rather have San Andreas stle game. Big environments, variety of the missions, and the silliness that gave the originals it's charm.
Commented on 2009-02-08 16:16:20 In reply to Jato
Posted by Jato
I'd give it a shot if they fix the bloody hopeless checkpoints!

I loved this game, my GOTY 2008, but I absolutely DESPISE the thought of having to drive accross town to the mission objective, from there follow someone back accross town by car, trying to kill him while driving and remaining on the road yourself, then switch over to a boat chase, then aboard mainland again to follow him on foot again, only to be killed at the very last bit and have to do ALL THAT ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

That's one thing I TRULY HATE about the GTA series...
They are adding mid-mission checkpoints.
Commented on 2009-02-08 16:45:38 In reply to TheBeagle
Really? it's about bloody time!

Good news!
Commented on 2009-02-08 19:10:49

No clue about the longevity of the game either, not even the total number of missions included. We were promised that players will get something worth the price but given it’ll cost you 1600 MS points, we still need some convincing it was not just some marketing talk.
thats my only worry at this point, will it really be worth what they're asking? THEY say it will, but i've had enough of PR talk.....i'm sick of "10 hour" campaigns being 5-6.
Commented on 2009-02-08 19:45:05
Iwill be positively suprised if we get 5-6 hour of gameplay..i recon it's gonna be like 2 hours of missions and 4 hours monkeying around with new weapons and vehicles and listening all the new radio and watching the new tvshows. I hope im wrong, thou'
Commented on 2009-02-08 21:36:32
I've seen liberty City, did what I had to do, and left without looking back.
Commented on 2009-02-08 22:10:51
Rockstar has officially stated the The Lost and Damned's core missions will last about 1/3 of what the core missions did in GTA IV.

They have also gone on record stating they have added in plenty of side missions.

So factoring in both core missions and side missions . . .

While it is not an exact science, I think it would be safe to say that you could take however many hours you spent playing GTA IV, divide it by three, and that is how long you can expect to spend playing The Lost and Damned.

So yeah, if you were bad ass enough to beat GTA IV in 15 to 16 hours, then I guess you could expect The Lost and Damned to only be about 5 to 6 hours long. However, considering that most people took 50 to 70 hours to beat GTA IV, seriously, I'd expect closer to 15 hours on the extreme low end and 25 hours on the extreme high end of game play . . . and of course, none of those numbers includes play time in any of the new online modes that are being added exclusively with The Lost and Damned.

Just out of curiosity, last week a started a new game just to play through it a second time in the run up to the release of The Lost and Damned. This is my second time through GTA IV, so I already know how all the missions play out, where to go for each of them, etc. This time through however, I have decided not to waste any time appeasing my friends, taking them out bowling or drinking, etc. I also decided that since I am very familiar with Liberty City, not to waste any time monkeying around, and simply just play the game straight through. The only side missions that I have engaged in, are the ten MOST WANTED missions in the Broker/Bohan area, and stealing the 10 cars for Brucie's chop shop (the one's he asks me to steal, via email) . . . and I only did those side missions, for the money to keep fully stocked up on weapons. I have spent zero time playing online this time around, have currently unlocked the Algonquin area on the game, and my most recent completed mission is, . . . Final Interview, where Francis McCreary has me pose for a job interview at a law firm to kill the Jack Thompson-esque crusading lawyer who has become a thorn in everyone's side.

My current stats on the game have me at 37.54% complete (just a little over the 1/3 mark) at 22 hours and 44 minutes.

At age 38, I am an average player; I've been playing games since 1979; I no longer tend to play games faster (or slower) than the norm; I play games for the enjoyment and experience, and not as a form of competition any longer. By all definition, my current gameplay habits are pretty average. And at 1/3 through this game a second time, I am hitting around 20 hours. So if Rockstar says that The Lost and Damned is about 1/3 of GTA IV, I really do think that it is a safe bet to say that at least for the average gamer out there, we are going to get around 20 hours of game . . . not factoring in how much more time we are going to get from all the new online modes.

So yeah, ~20 hours for $20 is about right.

If only Halo 3, Mirror's Edge, Call of Duty 4, Gears of War 1 & 2, and a whole lot of other $60 games that lasted for less than 10 hours, gave us ~$1 per minute of entertainment in their campaign modes . . .

Killzone 2 is coming up in a few weeks, I've played the demo and it rocks. It too is also a $60 game. All the reviews I have read on the game say that it indeed clocks in on the short side; under 10 hours. I'm still going to buy it and play it and enjoy it, but at the end of the day, I still know that I am going to get more of my money's worth out of GTA IV: The Lost and Damned.
Commented on 2009-02-08 22:21:22 In reply to FreeSwag
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Commented on 2009-02-08 23:12:05
I just completed GTA:IV recently. It was the news of this DLC that encouraged me to do so. The game only took me about 18 hours to complete. I seriously doubt you will get anywhere near 20 hours for the DLC. I would say 10 hours at the most. This doesn't matter to me anyway. It's not like they are asking for a lot of money. We all know the story is going to be good and it is going to be fun.
Commented on 2009-02-08 23:25:16 In reply to FreeSwag
Posted by FreeSwag
While it is not an exact science, I think it would be safe to say that you could take however many hours you spent playing GTA IV, divide it by three, and that is how long you can expect to spend playing The Lost and Damned.
Thing is though, when GTA4 hit..the majority of people would of had most of the gaming hours it took to complete it soaked up in exploring the new liberty city for the first time. Lost and damned doesnt have that advantage... we all know liberty city now..because we all already own it.

How long fetch request/shoot out missions last without that underlying urge to explore i dont know...but i think 1/3 of it is lucky to be 5hours..unless theres some lengthy cut scenes in there to flesh it out abit(ala mgs4).

Personaly i love gta4, and think it lived up to its hype. I'll be getting this dlc..but, lets not make a mistake here, its being charged to us at the standard price of an expansion pack..will it offer the value of a HL2 episode? or an oblivion expansion, that its competitively priced along?
Unless they've added co-op to the campaign (which considering you're now got your own crew could be possible), i think offering us new cutscenes and a new skin to replace nico is going to be testing that price tag.

I do have faith in Rockstar though..they do offen offer value for money. We shall see.
Commented on 2009-02-09 01:18:24

Rockstar has officially stated the The Lost and Damned's core missions will last about 1/3 of what the core missions did in GTA IV.
yes, R* have said it, just like developers have said before that their games are way longer then they end up being.

i think i'll wait for some genuine confirmation rather then listen to what is no doubt bullshit. i mean, you can complete GTA 4's core story in less then 15 hours if you get taxi's everywhere, in which case, i'd believe them when they say its a third of GTA4's story (it'd only about 4-5 hours long). but believing its 1/3rd of 50-70hours is unrealiastically optimistic. but good luck with that
Commented on 2009-02-09 01:39:15 In reply to TheBeagle
Posted by TheBeagle
They are adding mid-mission checkpoints.
Rockstar learned their lesson after 8 years. Incredible. I give them another 50 to figure out how to do proper controls.
Commented on 2009-02-09 01:46:29
Why are the textures so blurry? As in way more blurry than in the vanilla game..
Commented on 2009-02-09 03:27:55 In reply to szaromir
Posted by szaromir
Rockstar learned their lesson after 8 years. Incredible. I give them another 50 to figure out how to do proper controls.
Controls in GTA4 are spot on...use a 360 pad if you're playing it on pc
Commented on 2009-02-09 05:58:59
We can all argue as long as we want, i believe most of it won't be able to resist the purchase. It's GTA after all and the we don't even have to move our asses to the shops to get it. There are a lot sillier things to waste 20 bucks on, so it might as well be GTA.
Commented on 2009-02-09 12:27:06 In reply to droezelke
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Commented on 2009-02-09 12:41:22 In reply to bleachedsmiles
Posted by bleachedsmiles
Controls in GTA4 are spot on...use a 360 pad if you're playing it on pc
And use a Benheck mod if you're playing it on PS3 ;)

Seriously though, I have never understand the criticism about the controls. They're fine, has always been so. Not always spot on, but works very well. If you say otherwise you're probably suck at playing games, I bet it doesn't even matter if you're playing Duck Hunt or GTA. You are just awful and have to blame it on something.

The same people that complains about the save system in Dead Rising, I'll assume. My take, anyway.
Commented on 2009-02-09 13:44:00 In reply to Damn_fu_Improvement
Posted by Damn_fu_Improvement
And use a Benheck mod if you're playing it on PS3 ;)
Cheaper than trashing a SA and 360 Pad: http://www.extreme-mods.com/XCM-Cross-Battle-Adapt...

I have one, it works.
Commented on 2009-02-09 14:12:53
"My current stats on the game have me at 37.54% complete (just a little over the 1/3 mark) at 22 hours and 44 minutes. " - a Turtle would play the game faster :)

You really take your time don't you? how is it even possible ? I mean, i consider myself to be an average player in terms of how fast i complete a game, and it took me around 30 h to complete the game on my first run ( i did all the missions, and side missions, and police missions, and assasin missions, and got all my friend perks, watched all the cut-scenes, re-played couple of missions again and again, caused mayhem till i got 6 stars numerous times, enjoyed the scenery, really got to know the city etc.)

My second run was way faster cos' i wanted that "Liberty city in a minute" achievement.

Do you play the game like a real-life simulator: take the metro and train, sit in traffic, never go over the speedlimits, stop at red lights, walk everywhere ( sometimes run, but one does get tired,right ?) eat something every 3 hours, sleep at night, change clothes everyday..you get the idea :D - if so, then i can understand perfectly why it has taken you 22 hours to get to that point.
Commented on 2009-02-09 23:08:57
i finished gta4 when it got out

and then the 1.03 patch came on the ps3 and i restarted another game ( in order to take the trophies )

if you act fast ( use the taxi and skip a lot ) , don't care about how you travel , and chain all the missions , you can beat the story in 19 hours quite easily ...however i'm at 51hours to do the rest ( flying rats, stunts , friends , vigilantes ..ect ect )

but that was me speeding ... in my first game i was over the 30h mark so i think you can expect 10 real hours of play from the new story they added ( considering you know LC quite well now ), if you add the new things to do , i can safely say that the price for this dlc is appropriate ...

as for the controls in GTA4 ..there are 2 sets of controls , take the one you feel good with and enjoy the game ..how can that be so difficult for some people here ?
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