Another, more clever mission has you kidnapping cousin Roman to deliver him to the Russians, where Niko later rescues the blubbering taxi boss in the original game. It's not all crossovers though; familiar but still enjoyable highlights include a police pursuit on the back or a motorbike with a massive gun, and a ruthless attack on an Angels' clubhouse, grenade launcher included.
The story is complimented by the very welcome addition of mid-mission checkpoints, which manage to skip out repetitive retries of long and difficult shootouts - even if some of the difficulty is sacrificed in the process.
Ultimately the 25 or so story missions fall short of the highs of GTA IV's brilliant Four Leaf Clover, and Rockstar's still to shake off the 'kill these, chases this, loose the cops' formula, but what's there is entertaining, consistently action-packed and brilliantly paced.
What's really special about Lost and Damned though - excluding the terrific amount of value you're getting for 13 quid - is that even after lord knows how many hours arsing about in the game world, its still able to surprise and deliver some really standout, non-scripted gameplay moments.
The sheer amount of content lavished on the context sensitive banter in Liberty City is still staggering. Characters react and behave in the world as you'd expect them to in real life. Phone a Lost brother for assistance and Johnny won't just bark out a street, he'll explain he's about to bust a traitorous colleague's house, and he needs some help sneaking through the backdoor.
Fresh satire leaks from every pedestrian, radio station and television in the city. An advert for the Bank of liberty proclaims "thanks for the bailout America," and mention's constantly made of the deep recession the country's got itself in.
Content-wise there's plenty of potential to extend the sandbox fun; the highlight of Lost and Damned's new guns, which includes an auto-shotgun, pipe bombs and burst pistol, is the grenade launcher. It's a big, noisy bastard of a weapon that's also a great physics fun toy and we can see it alone adding a few hours to the ADD sufferers' never-ending war against the LCPD.
It's been a difficult task judging the Lost and Damned because really, there's no DLC package like it. The production, scope and sheer amount of content is equal to some full releases and Rockstar could've easily put it in a box and sold it for 20 quid. But it's not on the shelves and it's not more than fifteen quid, which makes it a terrific bargain.
Lost and Damned isn't a reinvention of GTA IV and nor does it bring anything terribly original to the mission formula. The first episode should thus be viewed as another greatly entertaining story in the vast and under-explored world of Liberty City, with some welcome team features and multiplayer content worth every penny paid.
Lost and Damned has set the standard for all DLC packages to come. We only expect more from the next portion of GTA DLC.
It's dark, action-packed and worth every note. We'd never pay the rumoured 50 million it cost Microsoft but you can't complain at £13.
- Great value
- Dark and engaging narrative
- Being in gangs IS fun
- Familiar mission structure
- Falls short of GTA IV's mission highs