spudbug's The Ballad of Gay Tony (Xbox 360) review

The best set of missions in a GTA game since San Andreas

 

BoGT gets closer than ever to the exaggerated action of San Andreas – but never goes all the way, which may be a relief to some, a disappointment to others.

GTA4’s more focused scope and emphasis was a nice change from San Andreas’ rural sprawl and numerous systems and minigames, but It would’ve been nice to have the final GTA4 expansion really push the limits of open world gameplay. What we have instead are some very fun additions to the vanilla GTA4 formula that feel a bit restrained by technology and time.

The most welcome improvements are in the mission pacing and checkpoints. BoGT’s missions are much more pure action driven – less driving around listening to people talk, more blowing helicopters up from on top of a moving train. Most impressive is how rockstar manages to design these missions on top of an already existing city infrastructure, but they never feel recycled or familiar.

Also welcome are shorter missions with more frequent checkpoints. When GTA inevitably screws you over with a random occurrence or control quirk, you won’t be replaying the last 30 minutes just to get where you were, or worse, driving 5 minutes just to restart that mission.

New weapons and vehicles like the NOOSE Tank and the Automatic Shotgun with exploding shells (my favorite) are included as well. It’s too bad there isn’t a real, full blown tank added to the game, but the tight streets might have made it difficult to use. Planes are also missed – especially given the addition of the parachute for base jumping. Flying planes and jumping out of them was one of my favorite parts of San Andreas, and it’s too bad we’re limited to base jumping missions and helicopters.

If you were the type who was put off by GTA4’s reduced scale and wanted the next step from San Andreas, BoGT may disappoint you. If you’re looking for some of the best GTA missions yet and wouldn’t mind some shiny new shovels and buckets to keep you busy in rockstar’s sandbox, BoGT is a sure thing.

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