I took a brief hiatus from my Forza 3 marathon on Thursday to pay a final visit to Liberty City with The Ballad of Gay Tony, Rockstar’s latest (and likely last) installment of downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV. Given my fondness for all things GTA, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that I was watching the credits roll by lunchtime Saturday.
Rockstar’s approach to TBoGT doesn’t differ much from the previous installment – once again you’re put in the shoes of what was previously only a supporting character. As I said before, the experience you enjoy the most really depends on which character and lifestyle you are most comfortable with. In this case, that character is Luis Lopez, ex-con turned bodyguard of/business partner to nightclub impresario “Gay” Tony Prince (who bears a remarkable resemblance to Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark).
As a result, the game is centered around Algonquin, Liberty City’s equivalent to Manhattan, and the high-roller atmosphere extends to fast cars, great new music, and a slew of new over-the-top missions. Of course it’s not all fun and games, but I’ll just leave it at that with regards to plot. You’ll run across plenty of characters that you’ve been previously introduced to, including one loose end from the core game that I was glad to see tied.
I have to say, I really liked Luis as a protagonist – while he kept getting thrust into situations that were less than ideal, I never felt that things were completely out of control like I did with Niko or Johnny. One constant across all GTA games is that you can continue to experience the city even after completing the missions. You may find it telling that when presented with that option in TLaD I opted instead to return to the original game. I don’t expect that to be the case this time around.