Review: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
November 9, 2009

GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony is the final add-on episode in the GTA IV series, and Rockstar Games has finished up with a bang! T.B.O.G.T. puts you in the shoes of Luis Lopez, a Dominican ex-dope boy turned bodyguard/enforcer who now works for 'Gay’ Tony, a notorious Liberty City club owner who has gotten himself into financial trouble with many of the underground criminals around town. Your main goal is to keep Tony safe and carry out missions for his debtors in an attempt to get Tony back to even. For those familiar with the GTA franchise and the GTA IV setting in particular, T.B.O.G.T. is action-packed and fast paced compared to Niko’s more deliberate story line in GTA IV. The wild missions and over-the-top characters will probably remind you of 2004’s GTA San Andreas. If you are new to the Grand Theft Auto series, this game will show you what you’ve been missing, and just how much action can be crammed into one title.

One of the main things that I liked about T.B.O.G.T. was that it didn’t take a long time to get into the action. For GTA veterans, you know most of the previous games start off slow, giving you a chance to get used to the controls, maps, vehicles, etc. before they really get deep into the action. Usually, your first couple of missions will involve picking someone up and dropping them off, meeting your first contact, and maybe beating someone up with your fists or a bat to accomplish your first kill. T.B.O.G.T., on the other hand, doesn’t waste any time. By the second mission (Chinese Takeout) you’ll find yourself in the middle of a multi-floor/multi-enemy shootout. During this same mission you will also encounter another one of T.B.O.G.T.’s perks when you are given the illest assault in GTA history, instead of having to take a trip to the gun shop prior to starting the mission.

These two instances demonstrate how Rockstar really put on their thinking caps and thought things out when they developed this game. First, most of the people playing T.B.O.G.T. have already played GTA IV and are familiar with the controls and game play, so there is no need to take the slow approach in getting to the action. Second, Luis’ character in T.B.O.G.T. works for a nightclub owner and has access to cash, so he doesn’t need to scrape for money and start the action with a weak 9mm handgun.

Aside from the crazy missions and action, T.B.O.G.T. features updated music, new building interiors to visit, random club chicks to play with, and a whole new set of mini-games to keep you busy in between the main story line. The only complaints I had about T.B.O.G.T. were the load times seemed a little longer than GTA IV, and I noticed more graphic hiccups, especially when coming in and out of buildings.

At the end of the day, T.B.O.G.T. is another top-notch game on the Rockstar resume and is the perfect way to close out the Liberty City experience. I’m not sure where Rockstar will take the GTA franchise next, but I would like to see them get out of the U.S. I think a game set in Mexico or Colombia centered on trafficking blow could be hot. Or maybe leave this side of the globe all together, and take the game to Europe or Japan, and build around the different crime scenes overseas. Wherever Rockstar decides to go I trust that they’ll get it right and bring us another classic. T.B.O.G.T. is available for both the X-Box 360 & PS3. It can be purchased on X-Box Live as a $20 download, or you can purchase it along with the previous downloadable add-on GTA IV: The Lost and Damned on a single cd for $40.

Score: 9 out of 10

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