Peace and Prosperity be damned!
The motivation behind seasoned biker Johnny Klebitz's moral ridden stride through life.
Johnny is the rough, tough and unhygienic Vice-President of The Lost Motorcyle Club.
With their fearless, and probably fear inducing, leader incarcirated, Johnny took the position to lead the gang to reliable financing and in a life of harmony, sort of, with truces abound between other gangs with the only thing on their to-do list to simply enjoy living life as the rebels of society that they are.
However Billy Grey is to be released by the beginning of the story and thus the story starts with the gang only going downhill from there.
Already at the outset you can sense alot of tension between Johnny and Billy, with their conflicting views on just about everything. The war they seem to create between themselves is just as destructive as the wars Billy creates with everyone else around him.
From the very start, Billy breaks the truces Johnny set up and basically looks for any reason for carnage rather than any type of solution to situations that would benefit the gangs future.
The conflict between Johnny and Billy fills a good amount of the story focus throughout but whenever it happens to stray from it it'll feel lazy in comparison and will have you wishing you could just get more of the Johnny vs Billy antics.
The story itself is still brought to life with incredibly voiced characters and characters who are also a joy to love, hate and laugh with or at. Johnny himself, like Rockstar stated, is a very different character from Niko. Still one for always getting into violent mess' you can at least tell its not quite how he had planned to live his life. He enjoys his position as a leather clad rebel but not quite to the extremes it will bring him. Billy however, seems to be quite the opposite who is always looking for reasons to go crazy.
The voice of reason Angus to the slightly insane Road Captain Clay, theres a good variety of personalities throughout with some old favourites even making an a few appearances at that.
The storyline that the characters populate, unfortunately, isn't quite as fresh or engaging as what GTA4 gave you. The heat that is between Johnny and Billy could of been enough to pull the story through to its end. Or at least they could of stretched the side plots a little to give more meaning to them such as the relationship Johnny has with the drug haddled Ashley.
I also have to show some annoyance to the storyline, in game and out, with having a distinct lack of Malc, one of the new characters introduced. Anyone whos completed the Lost and Damned will know what I mean.
Its easy to look past though with how easy it is just to enjoy the strong personalities, but going by the amazing standard of GTA4's epic, its a shame The Lost and Damned couldn't of come with a mini-epic to match with its shortened story-mission list.
What it may lack with its story motivation, its gameplay that which it presents you with is definatley a positive to help contrast. Its largely the same to the original GTA4 but of course thats hardly a bad thing. The same brilliant physics engine now with added weapons and improved bike handling, its GTA4 made more convenient even to the extent of you now allowed 2 in-game hours to meet up with your friends.
The weapons themselves also add atmosphere to the game with biker trademarks such as sawn of shotguns to pipe bombs to something a little more extreme with the Street Sweeper automatic shotgun.
The highlight for me definatley goes to the grenade launcher with its much more flexible accuracy and versatlity when compared to the RPG with it possibly being used on occasion for shooting it through windows or just getting a good reach against a crowd more so than a standard grenade would get.
There is even a half a pole cue added in as an extra melee weapon, though thats strictly for the biker theme and doesn't give much use to the overall gameplay. Least they could of done was given it a unique attack set instead of shoving it in there as just a baseball bat skin.
Vehicles too are in a high increase. Bikes especially with now a great deal of choppers, road hogs and many more slang terms for Harleys. Theres even some new custom sports bikes to choose from. 3 new cars are also added in though as to why is quite a mystery. A tow truck that can't tow??
Ignoring the ever pointless new cars, the added bikes are definatley welcome and give Johnny some sweet variety with how he wants to ride around shooting his sawn off over the handlebars.
To even further the atmosphere, a plethora of new music tracks are added into the mix with a great deal of rock/metal variety to be found with oddly enough even a few rap songs shoe-horned in there aswell.
While so far all thats been listed is generally more of the same, what the L&D does at least bring with it to add something fresh to the formula is the gang itself, The Lost. You won't actually be controlling or managing your gang but your least given the liberty to ride around with them and during a good amount of the story missions can fight alongside a sizable group in some very hetic firefights.
Whats more each gang member you have, story character and random gang-member alike, can actually grow in experience and toughen up. Each battle they fight in and happen to survive through will make them better at practically everything. More health, better accuracy and for 2 key members infact, can even upgrade their arsenal.
Its a neat idea and one that would have you really trying to keep your gang alive. However their usually moronic AI doesn't give much choice in wether they happen to survive or not.
Which is definatley evident in one of the games side missions, the Gang Wars. Along with 6 other members, you are too ride around on the look for a rival gang to well...commence a war with. Its generally fun and also has some heavily equipped scum to go against instead of just relying on fighting the police for your brutality requirements. Again though your gang AI is downright stupid and it'll come down to luck as to wether they survive. Key characters won't ''die'' but the lesser gang-members will instead be replaced with a newbie member, right back at the start of his leveling ladder.
You can't give out orders to your gang and thus they'll usually end up just riding right up to the enemy and being shot down before they even get off their bikes. Its clumsy and breaks alot of the immersion of being apart of a gang, or at least being apart of a compotent gang.
Non the less the gun battles are still as fun as they were back in the original GTA4 and now with more flare with the added weapons and with you usually always having backup to tag along.
The story missions though do fall under a rather stale routine. There usually large on scale and also now have checkpoints added in so failing a mission doesn't mean you'll have to retread the entire mission, but the missions themselves all fall down to what GTA4 already done too much of. Drive somewhere, kill everyone, escape police. GTA4 at least did have the occasional out of ordinary mission thrown in but The Lost and Damned does focus solely on gang warfare and to which with the gangs being so dumb, it will lead to a certain day-jar-vu just now with some extra bodies to die around you.
The overall presentation of the game is still pretty solid and it definatley nails a very different atmosphere to Niko's story. A grain filter to give the game a somewhat dirty look, to The Lost and Damned's own gothic font for mission text and such, it really does give you a different outlook on Liberty City.
The graphics have still held up well to this day and you'll have a hard time trying to find a currently released sandbox-crime game with graphics to rival.
The character models still have the same zombie look during gameplay, especially when talking which they still sometimes look like ventriloquist dolls with how their mouths move. The City itself is as vibrant as ever and with more detail added to certain areas like the exterior of The Lost's own clubhouse.
Outside of the single player, there of course exists the multiplayer, which definatley had as much attention as the single player experience with its new modes. Its largely the same as GTA4 but still brings with it some fun alterations to some of GTA4's classics such one that has one team of players escorting a bus of witness' of a crime with the other team as The Lost gang aiming to make sure that there exists no witness' to confirm any crime they may have committed.
Another highlight is the Chopper vs Chopper mode which has one player on a motorcyle while another in an annihilator. Simple design of bike survive against helicopter for as long as possible but incredibly tense when your the biker and just as intense for the chopper firing away with the obvious up-side of things. Its a strong component thats got alot of decent content to keep people happy after the single players 20 or so hours it would take for 100% completion.
The Lost and Damned may have actually brought light to some of the original GTA4's issues even more so, but with its meaty amount of added content and entertaining storyline, all at its budget price, people can learn to judge accordingly. To which The Lost and Damned is simply put, a defining piece of DLC and one to hopefully inspire in the future.