GTAIV: The Ballad of Gay Tony Hands-On Impressions

We parachute into Rockstar's second installment in the Episodes From Liberty City series of downloadable content.

Grand Theft Auto IV was one of the most critically and commercially successful games of 2008, and it continues to live on well into this year thanks to Rockstar’s Episodes From Liberty City series of downloadable content. The first installment came this past February when Rockstar released The Lost and Damned, which was a grim story about an underground biker gang that introduced a new storyline and protagonist, as well as new vehicles and weapons. In October, Rockstar will release the second entry in the Episodes series with The Ballad of Gay Tony. Like The Lost and Damned before it, The Ballad of Gay Tony will also add a significant amount of new content to go alongside a new collection of characters and missions. Rockstar recently guided us through a hands-on demo to see how the second DLC will differ from the first.

Parachutes are back, so feel free to get into all the midair helicopter crashes you want.

If there’s one major change from The Lost and Damned to The Ballad of Gay Tony, it’s the overall tone. TLAD told a dark story about a biker caught up in a power struggle amidst a cast of seedy characters, but The Ballad of Gay Tony will take on a much more lighthearted and over-the-top feel. The star this time around is Luis Lopez, a Dominican immigrant looking to make a life for himself in America much like the original game’s hero Niko Bellic. Luis works for Tony Prince (aka Gay Tony), a successful businessman who carries the distinction of owning the most popular straight and gay dance clubs in all of Liberty City. Problem is, Gay Tony has hit a rough patch and the shady investors he’s made deals with in the past are now coming for him in full force. As Luis, it’s your job to help out Gay Tony and make sure that the clubs--which you’ve worked your way up to part-ownership in--remain in his hands.

Throughout the course of the story, you’ll find yourself working for a number of bizarre characters, such as the wealthy eccentric Yusuf Amir. Thanks to the connections of these partners in crime, Luis has access to far more exotic weaponry than the sawed-off shotguns and pipe bombs that made up your arsenal in The Lost and Damned. Among the new weapons at your disposal are an assault rifle designed after the P90, a light machine gun that very much resembles an M249 SAW, and sticky bombs that you can attach to anything and detonate remotely. There’s also a golden UZI, a new sniper rifle, and a powerful new handgun. But the real gem of Luis’ arsenal is the AA-12 auto-shotgun that fires explosive rounds. With just one shot from this gun, we were able to make a police car look like it had just been struck by a meteor.

The first mission we saw quickly introduced us to the new parachute feature. Luis has agreed to help out members of the Russian mafia, who are trying to buy the Liberty City Rampage hockey team from the team’s reluctant owner. Negotiations have failed, so naturally Luis has been sent in to deal with the owner by force. To do so, Luis has to parachute onto the top of the building and make his way down staircases filled with guards before arriving in the team offices and blasting the owner out of the window of this skyscraper. Problem solved...sort of. With all the heat after him, Luis has to BASE jump from the window of the tower and land on a moving flatbed truck down on the streets below.

The action in Gay Tony has been ratcheted up quite a bit compared to The Lost and Damned. In other words: lots of helicopters.

The parachuting system found in missions like these is actually pretty simple. You leap from a ledge (or helicopter) and use the analog stick to contort your body to adjust how much of an angle you fall at and how quickly you plummet. When you hit the A button, you’ll release your chute. With the chute open, you can lean left or right to steer, hit either trigger to do a more severe twisting motion, use an analog stick to raise your legs and fall at more of a forward angle, and pull both triggers at once to fall straight down. The DLC will also introduce new side missions that allow you to jump from skyscrapers and land on either stationary or moving targets to gather cash. Besides just hitting the target, you’ll also get more cash for free-falling for a longer period of time before releasing your chute.

After that first mission, Rockstar handed us the controller and let us try a few missions of our own. The next one had a thoroughly ridiculous premise: Yusuf wants to steal a Liberty City subway car and ship it off to the Middle East to build a theme park modeled after the city. To do that, you need to leap from a freeway overpass in Broker (all boroughs are unlocked from the start) and land on a train passing below. Then, you have to slowly make your way to the front of the train while defending yourself from angry police helicopters--we used our trusty auto-shotgun--while also making sure to quickly go prone went the train passes under a low overhang, such as a bridge. We really enjoyed this mission and the thrill of navigating the roof of a speeding train while shooting down choppers and police standing at any of the stations we sped past. At the end of the mission, a cargo helicopter came by and snatched the lead train car off the tracks and whisked it off to its new home. This was definitely a marked departure from the sense of gritty realism that made up the missions in The Lost and Damned, but it was a fun one nonetheless.

The next pair of missions --one played by us, one by Rockstar--showed off a few more new features. In the one we played, we had to take a van due to be raided by a SWAT team and set up a trap. We drove the van into a dimly lit parking garage and then hopped out to plant a series of sticky bombs on the van, as well as every single surrounding car within a good 20-foot radius. Then we took to the shadows and hid behind a car, waiting until the SWAT team arrived to approach the van. You can probably guess what happened next: a massive explosion; a lot of angry cops; and one big, messy firefight.

The other mission required Luis to hop on a boat and sneak his way onto a yacht out at sea. The yacht is owned by illegal arms dealers, and the real prize of the auction taking place is the attack chopper parked neatly on the helipad. Luis has to sneak up to it, take off with the thing, and destroy the yacht, as well as the surrounding guard boats from on high. It’s a tough job because the illegal arms dealers you just stole from are, well, arms dealers and, thus, armed to the teeth. (With rocket launchers!) Thankfully, the stolen chopper is equipped with a minigun and unlimited rockets, so it's much easier to take care of these guys with the chopper than it would be if you were piloting a run-of-the-mill police helicopter.

Tony Prince's clubs are where all the cool kids hang out and, also, a place for you to pick up new missions.

From the new attack helicopter and parachuting missions to Luis’ cache of high-powered weaponry, The Ballad of Gay Tony looks like it should offer a much more exaggerated style of action than its predecessor. Other gameplay additions include what Rockstar call “procedurally generated missions” that you’ll be offered when hanging out in the new dance clubs. These may include dealing with a drunk patron or delivering a package for someone, as well as the aforementioned parachute side missions. You can also replay any completed mission, which is a feature that's been borrowed from Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Naturally, multiplayer makes a return as well, complete with the new weapons, vehicles, and parachutes.

The Ballad of Gay Tony will be available on October 29 for $20 on Xbox Live. Another purchase option exists in the form of the Episodes From Liberty City retail disc, which bundles The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned on one $40 disc, and you don’t need to own the original GTAIV to play it. Stay tuned for more coverage in the near future.

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Discussion

252 comments
regina7747
regina7747

Im not understanding all the issues with GTA4 and SR2, two different games with two different feels to them. It comes down to what you like. But make no mistake, SR2 is cool, but still feels like a cheap version of GTA (yeah...I said it!!). All those extra corny side missions are not needed, but the cars are to die for. never been able to auto customize a car like that in any GTA. But still, its nice to see that the additional GTA 4 games are just as cool as the original game.

AlexTT_spb
AlexTT_spb

@LENGTHIAN "gta was void of content." Maybe it was. But I didn't care, cause it was still fun to play. Driving is good, gunplay is satisfying, story is interesting - fun enough for me You have to admit that rockstar had a lot of stuff to do: create a big detailed city, put the new physics engine to work, write a huge script etc. Give them a break. This whole DLC situation is understandable. At least we ain't getting them for nothing but for smth good

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

@ AlexTT_spb ok i concede to your point: its all a matter of taste. one mans drink is another mans poison. sure. HOWEVER: my main point is still valid: apart from graphics, gta was void of content. i fear or you all the day when you buy episodic content to pad out the depth in a game. gta 4 is a step closer to this day. on that day - gamers LOSE. @ jstowers - youre right: we DO get a lot for our money. or you USED to. gta 4 was a hype and marketing masterpiece that i bought into with everyone else. at least i can now see it for what it was.

jstowers
jstowers

dude - that's exactly what I think when I read these boards over and over again, excellent point made. Let's all have fun, who cares what consoles better - just buy em' both, they're cheap as chips compared with any other consoles in times past comparatively: times have never been better for gamers: REJOICE!! :)

AlexTT_spb
AlexTT_spb

@LENGTHIAN Why did you even care to answer? If u like Saints Row then play it and buzz off. Fun is a different thing for everyone: some people enjoy story and realism and others go mental by blowing sh*t up. And there is nothing wrong with both of these options. And talking about being "childish" - only a kid wouldn't understand that there is no "right" or "wrong" opinion

nsx3000
nsx3000

I want this for my PS3!! :(

Vastano
Vastano

actually luis IS in the main story. You see him 3 times. 1st time is on the bank job, he even says his name (he is the one lying next to the guy who shoots "Saint" Michael). 2nd time is when your doing the diamond deal with Isaac. He pops up in the little window and starts shooting. 3rd (and final time) is when your doing the second diamond deal - when you trade Gracie Ancellotti for the diamonds - he is the guy with Gay Tony Prince.

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

@ StaticKornSlipX sure. it all comes down to personal choice. What i cant fathom is why ALL people have to say about GTA4 is: great graphics, good story. you PLAY for FUN. look out a window if you want gritty realism. my concern is all gta4 fanboys are victims of marketing. and this will impact on ALL games as companies will look to gta4's episodic money manking strategy for future releases. look past the pretty pictures to the vapid gameplay wouldja?! as for a car comparison: SR2 is KITT where gta4 = reality: a 2nd hand POS that isnt fun and doesnt allow you to take your mates along for the ride. only children dont agree with me. as theyre not capable of reasonable argument. (if you havent played sr2 you have no opinion). AND if you think graphics make a great game then you really dont have a valid opinion.

dunny82
dunny82

Hey are you sure Luis isnt in the original GTA IV? Remember the bank mission where theres the two guys on the floor. One of them gets shot but th other one looks like Luis

StaticKornSlipX
StaticKornSlipX

@LENGTHIAN Go play saints row 2 then and ignore gta iv. We get that you prefer the more hectic saints row 2 where you can throw people into trains, but i prefer the less hectic and more plot oriented gta iv. Gta iv has the story and saints row has the silly toys. So Gta iv is closer to realism whereas saints row 2 is just way too far over the top. And yes i'm gta fan boy and i've been playing these games since gta 3 on ps2 and this, gta iv, is by far is my favorite one and the most enjoyable one of the bunch. What drew me in first for gta iv?? Me seeing one of my friends playing it on a 50inch flat screen...yeah so its more about the graphics. Why should go with a safe Volvo (Saints Row 2) if instead i can go with a stylish Mercedes Benz (gta iv)??????

Hungry_Homer111
Hungry_Homer111

Sacrificing the realism for variety? I really liked the realism of GTA4, but I wish that it had more variety. I kind of wish that there was a GTA game that retained the realism of that game while adding the variety of the other games. However, if I can't have that, I will be more than happy to take this. This game sounds like a lot of fun already. I haven't played Lost and the Damned yet, because I heard that it was more of the same. I was going to get it, but not for a while. After hearing about this one, however, I'm much more interested in getting Episodes From Liberty City. Given how many games I am interested in already, it still may take a while, but I am much more interested in it now than I ever was.

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

ps: just as saints row SHAMELESSLY ripped of the genre GTA created remember GTA4 included a phone and sat-nav....which saints row had first. i didint like the 1st saints row. but 2 kicks ass.

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

@ sanechupp at the risk of sounding like a Saints Row 2 fanboy...go check it out. all of the old favourites are in there. and loads of acitivites as well. ALL of which you can do co-op! (last night i was dressed as an astronaut while my mate looked like alex from a clockwork orange. as he threw people off buildings i was cutting them up with my Katana before using teh chainsaw on them. check it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luj3KcWY0TM

inecom
inecom

And the parachute.

inecom
inecom

I`m just waiting to release this bad ass downloadable content. that`s all.

sanechupp
sanechupp

I'd rather have a game like San Andreas, it's a whole state setting. It does give you more variety of main missions, side missions and activities. And it is great to have city and countryside and mountains and that stuff. I play San Andreas some and actually the map is about the same size as the new Liberty City. Liberty City is superb and this part will be great and it does have great new stuff. I still prefer the state setting, have good story line, crank up the action, improve graphics, wide variety of vehicles and aircraft, great weapons(minigun and flamethrower definitely), and have some heavy industrial areas and some awesome skyways and some countryside type stuff that's always fun too. I do like the new Liberty City but I would of left out some of the activities but it does build friendships with the other characters in the game, you really don't have to spend to much time on them anyway. I like the cell phone for cheat codes

mp01juve
mp01juve

damn it, y no DLC for windows live too?

fanirama
fanirama

This is a good DLC. TLAD was boring and annoying. I never played more than 3 missions. It got pretty dull. This however, seems to have the Vice City type magic in it. The glitz, glamorous over the top feel that Rockstar is famous for. Looking forward to it.

mwb360
mwb360

Looking forward to playing this one. Lost and the Damned was a nice change from GTA4. And I think this chapter opens up a whole new look and feel. GTA4 is the game that keeps on giving.

someGAMEcream
someGAMEcream

GTA 4 needed some "fun". This expansion is it.

DFen
DFen

I wonder if theyll be a new multiplayer with this addon here

rosskinsey
rosskinsey

My only worry about this game is that if there are parachutes / property / assets and other changes then everyone will turn around and say "look at all this cool new stuff" At which point veterans will say "New?..."

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

@ ganjasmugglin and @Dasim64 in brief: ganja: yeah maybe the lack of content was partly due to technical reasons. but for the most part it was strategic. what bugs me most though is the kind of thing they DID include that sucked! calls from friends, pidgeons, very few guns (watch out for more dlc there!) . the biggest let down was multiplayer. i was expecting bank robberies with friends, planned heists, something original + interesting long term. co-op at least?! all the multiplayer modes were lacklustre and not of the sandbox nature id expect. maybe IN THE END gta + dlc WILL = quality comparitive of the previous games. the launch title of gta 4 was a stop start grind fest. we're all entitled to our opinion. i just wish more people would realise they are being marketed to. which in the longterm = less quality and more cost (which doesnt matter to me). last word re DLC: rockstar: reality is boring: we play for fun and fantasy: reclaim what saints row took from you: the FUN: ninjas vs pirates? yes please!

Dasim64
Dasim64

YOu guys can blah blah blah all you want about the old GTA games. They were ok when that was all we had but I can't stand playing them now after playing GTA4 and seeing what is possible there. The old driving models suck. Running down peds is lame. The physics models are terrible. The environments look absolutely horrible in comparison. Explosions and fire aren't nearly as much fun. The old car damage modeling is poorly done. The only thing good about GTA3 was that you had a lot to do. That's it. And personally I'd give that up for the overall experience of GTA4 in a heartbeat. To me GTA4 is the best in the series and is not at all overrated.

NinjaThis
NinjaThis

@ mrdeahtsocks There's still Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3

rosskinsey
rosskinsey

Death Deathlink Simply because I like saints row 2 dose not make me a rockstar hater for I have owned and loved pretty much all of the GTA's. I may play on both the xbox and ps3, but i have never downloaded any DLC (LATD was my mates) I am therefore simply saying that I found more to do in saints and I prefered the variety compared to GTA4/LATD an only time will tell if a new GTA will change that. This is not a consoles issue as I think xbox's halo/gears were great but i also found Mgs4/infamous on the PS3 great. Both consoles are great and provide different gaming experiances with exclusives So please dont be childish we are here to talk about the new sandbox

cooster14
cooster14

Can't wait! The best City ever built in a game, with more dramatic over-the-top action that made the franchise great. Way to bring back oldschool. Next content should have a sports arena, (you could through in so many missions set ups.) Plus flyable plane's. I was really excited the first time I was being chased by cops to the airport. Only to run up some stairs to find I couldn't get in a jet.

mrdeahtsocks
mrdeahtsocks

They need to give this game some time to breathe and explore other possible titles.

DjTIEST0
DjTIEST0

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

@ seankane exaclty my point friend. lets see more of the originaly manic ideas from gta3 or the eralier ones! crowds of elvis' to mow down! the combine harvester! kill frenzies! ANYTHING other than dating, bowling or DARTS!?! god help me. GTA4 most overrated game ever. (if its not better than a previous version on an old console, it sucks. and if you disagree why dont you all go play pacman with updated graphics and coem back to me. :)

LENGTHIAN
LENGTHIAN

@ AlexTT_spb either: you are a troll or you didint read my comments correctly. as your response included all the reasons why GTA4 is overrated. rockstar KNEW they would make more $$ by making the standard GTA content available on DLC. simple. and sadly without them GTA4 was a lot less fun. i appreicated the driving physics but it doesnt make the game much better. we play for fun. not reality. (phone calls from friends?! ) i had much more fun playing saints row 2 (co-op story especially) i own both games. and i own many more.. so i feel i have a valid basis for opinion. and ive played every GTA title. i imagine that only a 12 year old would respond by saying my comments were "childish **** . which explains a lot. i bet you saved your pocket money for GTa4 huh? hence you have to justify your choice. I dont. GTA had less content than previous versions and no amount of nice graphics makes up for the fact that less things to do = less fun. shooting 150 pidgeons?!?! lord. if you;re going to call someone childish make an effort to not sound like such a fool yourself. back up your opinion with a reasoned argument. im sure over time gta4 will prove to be what i thought: the launchpad for a plethora of premium DLC. ergo: rockstar knew people would pay 10 times more for san andreas with great visuals. good luck to them. i've seen how much of a con it is and wont be buying the dlc. besides. theres too many little boys squawking when ever ive played on line.

Arcannar
Arcannar

this will be awesome i just wish they would make another one with a triad or mafia style

igabiga
igabiga

i can remember countless hours of parachuting out of helicopters and airplanes on san andreas. the parachute is a welcome return for me!

Flesseck214
Flesseck214

Awesome! I'm very excited to roam the world of GTA again and to witness the continuation of the Liberty City storyline. As always, Rockstar sounds like it will deliver a quality product.

rachkovsky
rachkovsky

I think that all the fanboys should suck it up and stop with the console wars, it is getting stupid.

ganjasmugglin
ganjasmugglin

This is exactly what they had planned from the beginning. They wanted GTA4 to be more realistic and grity just like a real city. They prob knew people would whine and complain that they left alot out. (hey I even wonder why they did) But now it makes sense. They wanted a great foundation so that they could build and build on it till it became the game we wanted it to be. Its genius really. They prob couldnt fit all the extra stuff on the disc with the graphics looking that good. So they release DLC so that they can make money and please gamers by reinventing the game altogether. I will definitely be getting this.

WilliamEdmeades
WilliamEdmeades

I welcome these episodes. So much quicker to be released then creating a whole new game/map. I really enjoyed the lost and damned even more then i enjoyed gta iv's original game. as for Keitha313's view and many others. As a next gen game, some of the tedious features that San Andreas had I am very grateful they excluded. A pointless but somewhat fun system which took away the real fun and great feel that GTA offerers gamers.

jamo3ny
jamo3ny

dont worry about flammers just ignore them. they have nothing better to do except complain

howardorr
howardorr

All the haters in the comments below make me laugh. If you don't like GTA4, why the hell are you here? Just go away if you're going to whine. TLatD was great, and I think this will be, too.

DeathLinked
DeathLinked

@ rosskinsey Sure, you like saints row 2, simply because you CAN'T download the add ons. MS - 1 Sony - 0

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

gta iv on ps3:5.82m on xbox 360:7.21m (estimates)

rosskinsey
rosskinsey

In an ideal world a new GTA DLC should bring back The remote control choppers/cars and normal tanks/go-karts/jets/jet packs. New scenary not just a city I want fields/mountains/lakes with hunting/boating and stalking missions.Silent kills with the knife/ noisy brutal chainsaw kills, in othe words style specific assassination missions.I want to own casinos/strip clubs/bars/docks and feel like I have become the kingpin by the end. Well a man can dream

Keitha313
Keitha313

This game is a complete flop, Why people praise it for what its done?...Well what has it done first off??... Remove all the good stuff that San Andreas had in it for christ sake its a Next Gen game....Its so tampered down as if they barely even put any work on it i'd rather play he Getaway over this game its a complete utter joke nothing less nothing more, Rockstar need to pull their act together big style... Such a pathetic game.

kassa08
kassa08

I so want to get this, i think free roaming would be so awesome in this one!

rosskinsey
rosskinsey

I agree andypipkin85 GTA4 reviews win hands down, but lets be honest GTA3 brought 3D graphics GTA Vice City brought property/bikes/assets GTA San Andreas brought jets/countryside/Customisation GTA4 removed countryside/vehicles/customisation/assets and all the cool stuff I loved in San Andreas, I found saints filled part of that void