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CVG
24 Reviews

GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Fun over fiction

Gay Tony puts the 'fun' back into GTA IV. Gone are the long, narrative driven car rides of Niko's adventure, and in their place are ridiculous, explosion-filled helicopter gun fights and the odd sexual favour in a nightclub toilet.

When GTA fans complained than the next-gen titan had lost some of the reckless abandon of San Andreas, Rockstar North was clearly listening. Within a few hours of the latest episode you'll have leapt off the top of a skyscraper, shot helicopters out of the sky with the world's most powerful assault rifle and persuaded clubbing totty to put their legs over your shoulders.

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Luis Lopez is this episode's protagonist, all-round arsehole and right hand man to notorious Liberty City nightclub mogul, Anthony "Gay Tony" Prince. The episode's plot, while clearly not as complex or in-depth as the threads in GTA IV and to a certain extent, Lost and Damned, is humour-packed and just like Gay Tony's gameplay does a brilliant job of keeping you entertained.

Tony - who's a surprisingly well-rounded and detailed character for a videogame homosexual - has gotten himself into some trouble with the mob. Instead of countless knock-off Soprano cut-scenes, this means we're out to cage fight and explode our way into their favour, which is fine by us.

Like the rest of the episode, the tools you use to solve your mafia plight are totally over the top, which for GTA fans looking for one last excuse to rampage through Liberty City is good news.

Tony's troubles will have you wielding shotguns that take down helicopters, as well as high-calibre magnums that sound like rocket launchers.

One of the stars of Gay Tony's arsenal though are the remote-detonated sticky mines, which Luis can lob with extreme precision - even from car windows.

At the centre of the madness is another eccentric character, Omid Djalili-voiced billionaire Yusuf. With all the money in the world, a six pack of Stella and a night in with X Factor just isn't cutting it for Yusef, and you're constantly tasked with keeping his incredibly spoilt self entertained.

This results in a mission chain of blowing up yachts and base jumping from exploding buildings. Driving cousin Roman to the internet café seems a bit tame now, doesn't it?

In one mission he asks you to literally steal a Subway train to send to his father as a souvenir. After driving to the bridge crossing the train tacks and jumping down onto the roof of the speeding train, it's an epic shoot out with armed police and helicopters until your own chopper hooks on to a carriage and lifts you off to safety. Few missions in the original GTA were this bonkers.

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Another highlight has Luis and Tony hooking up with an abusive internet blogger - a dead ringer for Perez Hilton - and taking him for a helicopter tour of Liberty City. The 'tour' has been arranged to make peace after the offending blogger put doctored pictures on the internet of Luis and the boss getting it on.

Of course Luis and Tony's real intentions are far less civil, and you end up flying the vindictive blogger far above the clouds (the sky box has been largely extended), slapping him around the face and lobbing him out, before jumping out behind, catching him and gliding his now poo-ey self down to safety on the ground.

A hardly genre-breaking but welcome change to the mission structure has a score awarded for each completed task, with difficult secondary objectives on offer for those who decide to replay missions at the end of the game. On top of Lost and Damned's established mid-mission checkpoints, Gay Tony's single-player meat is better defined and definitely less frustrating than the original.

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