The bad news: Rockstar Games has officially confirmed that the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion will not arrive in 2008. The downloadable add-on, which will be exclusive to the Xbox 360, is now set to launch on Xbox Live worldwide on February 17, the same day as Street Fighter IV in the US. No price has been set, but the expansion will require the original game to play and will presumably share the same hard M for Mature rating.
Now, the good news. The expansion won't be a smallish bit of DLC, like Mass Effect's single-mission Bring Down the Sky. Titled "The Lost and Damned," the add-on will leave Niko Bellic behind in the Manhattan doppelganger of Algonquin and focus on an all-new protagonist. According to USA Today, Liberty City's newest antihero will be Johnny Klebitz, member of the biker gang known as The Lost. Based in the New Jersey clone of Alderney, the Sons of Anarchy-esque motorcycle club had some run-ins with Bellic--who will make a cameo appearance--in the middle section of GTAIV.
"Johnny is a very different character than Niko, with a very different background," Rockstar vice president of creative development Dan Houser told USA Today. "I can't go into too much detail on the story, because we try not to give away too much plot before the game is released. But I can say that the story will show you a different side of Liberty City."
In addition to the new storyline, The Lost and Damned will also sport new weapons, vehicles, and multiplayer modes that have yet to be detailed. In an official press release, Rockstar said the add-on will also feature a whole new soundtrack, with new types of music being added to GTAIV's myriad radio stations.
Last but not least, the expansion will be the first of two 360-exclusive episodes Rockstar North is making for GTAIV. "Making these episodes has enabled us to expand the narrative and the experience of interacting with a game world in really innovative ways," said Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser, brother of Dan, in a statement. "We hope fans of the game enjoy the new way of experiencing life in Liberty City contained in this first episode." No details on the second episode have been announced.