It’s a shame that a lot of people seem to have missed out on the Grand Theft Auto IV downloadable content – The Lost and Damned (or TLAD) and The Ballad Of Gay Tony (or TBOGT).
This is despite the cheap retail package Episodes from Liberty City containing both on disc, without the need for the original game. The lack of popularity was probably down to the exaggerated backlash against GTAIV. (Planes in the city would be stupid. Get over it.)
It’s really quite a shame. Not only do the add-ons provide more great content, they share a fantastically rich interwoven storyline and are packed with brilliant little details.
Niko Bellic – GTAIV
Mysterious Eastern European immigrant with a dark past catching up with him. His hunt for revenge and his relationship with his cousin provide some of the greatest pathos in the series.
Johnny Klebitz – TLAD
Jewish member of the tough ol’ biker gang The Lost, for whom loyalty is very important. His interactions with his junkie ex-girlfriend Ashley are some of the darker moments in the series. He has more than a few similarities to John Marston.
Luis Lopez – TBOGT
Dominican former street punk turned part-owner of two nightclubs thanks to Tony “Gay Tony” Prince. He solves grippingly tense situations by hitting people in the face. Especially when they are armed.
It’s worth noting one of the subtler differences between them is their running animation and speed. Johnny, allegedly weighing 220 pounds and having a slight limp is the slowest jogger out of them.
Muscle-bound Luis (who has been described as running like the Juggernaut) runs faster. But Niko, who claims to gets a lot of cardio running from police, is easily faster than either of them.
Liberty City actually looks different through each protagonists eyes. Niko’s vanilla GTAIV has normal realistic colour schemes. TLAD has a yellow-ish, desaturated look, with gritty menus. TBOGT makes everything more colourful.
The story in all three entries interlinks and intersects, taking place over the same period of time for the most part. If you just played vanilla GTAIV, you might not even remember that Johnny and Luis were there.
The major plotline tying them together is that of the diamonds that so many factions are vying for. They constantly change hands and leave a trail of bodies behind. There is also, to a lesser extent, the heroin plotline running through all three ‘episodes’. It’s all very Tarantino-esque.
- Niko first meets Johnny at Elizabeta’s party in Bohan. Although Johnny has a totally different outfit in vanilla GTAIV. They go to make a drug deal alongside Playboy X. Naturally, it goes wrong and you can play both Niko and Johnny’s respective escapes.
- Luis is present when Niko robs the bank – this is actually the intro of TBOGT.
- Johnny and Luis cross paths the first time the diamonds are sold, with the biker gang attempting to steal them by ambushing a deal.
- All three only intersect in their respective missions at the museum in which yet another diamond deal ends in gunfire, this time from Luis’ sudden appearance. The achievement for completing the Museum Piece mission in vanilla GTAIV, was titled Impossible Trinity, which lead to much fun speculation before we knew who the playable characters were in the DLC.
- Luis and Niko meet up again exchanging a hostage for the diamonds.
That’s just the direct links. There are smaller crossovers all over the games. Whether its Niko killing a faceless biker who you then get to know and like in TLAD, or the news stories about Gay Tony’s clubs from vanilla GTAIV that you witness first hand in TBOGT, or thousands of other little references that could be listed forever.
You can even visit the Lost club house in GTAIV, although it looks very different – but it was there and in that location so early on before the DLC was even announced. The games are dense with these kind of details.
With the classic GTA gameplay (although TLAD can drag), a great script and a better storyline, I fully recommend checking them out.