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GTA IV: The Lost and Damned

Hands-on: The dark side of Liberty City

February 17 sees the launch of The Lost and Damned, the first instalment of GTA IV's 360-exclusive downloadable content which reveals a darker side to GTA IV. Liberty City is now the backdrop for a revenge plot that sees much death and a tragic tale of a family collapsing in on itself - and this time you're not just a tourist.

You play as Johnny Klebitz, the troubled vice president of motorcycle gang The Lost. The group's leader (and Johnny's brother Billy) was sent to rehab to dodge a lengthy stretch inside. Johnny's used his time as acting gang leader to quell the violence that's raged between his gang and rivals The Angels of Death.


But Billy's out and back in charge, which quickly means that old habits have come crashing back. All of Johnny's hard work is being undone by his brother's warmongering.

This is a more sombre tale compared to Niko Belic's crime-spree visit to America. Hairy man-types get executed in every other cutscene. The piece de resistance, a subtle 'grain filter' made popular by Mass Effect and Left 4 Dead, sets the perfect tone for this dark spin-off to Niko Belic's story, which both run parallel and cross over.

In GTA IV it was an absolute pleasure to discover America alongside the foreign Niko Belic - and thanks to his fresh arrival on US shores introductions to new characters never felt tagged on.

For the DLC though, having Johnny as a Liberty City resident makes perfect sense for both the episode and us. He knows who his friends are, he knows where to park his bike and he knows the way to the local Burger Shot - which means we can jump straight into the action. And we do.

Celebrating his return from the priory, boss Billy celebrates with his Lost comrades using the traditional biker cocktail of booze, girls and drugs, which is where we're first introduced to our slightly unsettled lead character.

Cut-scenes, as usual, are incredible. No detail has been spared Rockstar's obsessive attention and the movements, voices and facial animations of each hairy biker. Lip service looks improved too, with some characters looking uncannily realistic when wording their lines.

Billy's pleased to see his brother after months of AA group hugs, but Johnny's holding back. He knows his brother is about to take a proverbial poo on the truce he's successfully created. It's only a matter of time before the claret-clad Angels of Death arrive to spoil the party. In an instant bad tempered Billy kills one of their crew in cold blood, well and truly setting things off again.


This is the first mission we get to play, called Angels in America. Johnny and his brothers must chase down the remaining Angels on bikes and, using his sawn-off shotgun, take them out before they get back to their clubhouse and inform everyone that the war is back on.

A massive convoy bike chase ensues but thanks to the awesome stopping power of the sawn-off shotgun - which is definitely the new gun to have in a motorbike shoot-out - the Angels' bikes are soon rolling down the road in pieces.

Johnny's starting bike, which has wheels the size of a monster truck and handles like a Jeep, is one-of-a-kind and can't be retrieved if destroyed. Rockstar promises an assortment of new vehicles including several motorbikes specific to The Lost. This was all we saw in the motor department though.

Whereas Niko's story was a very solitary experience for our anti-hero, the story in The Lost and Damned is all about riding and fighting with your crew. It's a pack that you bond with, each character having its own strengths and weaknesses. This is showcased in our next mission.

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