Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

Spotlight

Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3: Round 25

Episodes from Liberty City, SSFIV, SEGA All-Stars Racing, Superstars V8, Dead to Rights and AVP.

Digital FoundryGTA: Lost and Damned Face-Off

Close-up comparison of the 360 and PS3.

Digital FoundryGTA: Lost and Damned Performance Analysis

Revisiting Rockstar's impressive GTA engine.

Key events

Charting the phenomenal progress of video games these past few decades is easy enough. You've probably seen an image of PlayStation-era Lara Croft in all her stark polygonal beauty contrasted side-by-side with her modern character model. If not, perhaps you've seen Wolfenstein: The New Order's B.J. Blazkowicz sat next to his coarsely drawn early incarnation. Look at all those pixels, all that detail, and marvel at how far we've come.

Saturday Soapbox: Gameplayed

FeatureSaturday Soapbox: Gameplayed

This time, game plays YOU.

"Keep walking, asshole, before I shove this nightstick where the sun don't shine."

Rude, abrasive, unnecessary. It's all of these things, but I'd let it go, just because it's a hell of a lot of hassle to do anything about it.

But I do a double take. This is a policeman. A PoliceMAN. I'm Johnny Motherf***ing Klebitz. I'm part of The Lost and the Damned, whose entire purpose is to F*** the MAN. I'm not going to let this slide.

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MS: Xbox exclusive games, DLC 

MS: Xbox exclusive games, DLC "critical"

Explains how it secures exclusive content.

Exclusive games and downloadable content are "critical" for the Xbox 360, Microsoft has said.

Exclusive content - even if it's only for a set period of time - is crucial for differentiating the Xbox 360 from the PlayStation 3 and Wii, Microsoft's European boss Chris Lewis told Eurogamer.

"They are important," he said. "DLC windows of exclusivity are critical for us for differentiation. We'll continue to bring those exclusives through our own studio work, Gears and Forza and other titles."

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FeatureCheap This Week - 20/07/11

GTA 4 Episodes! GRID! Killzone 2!

Buckle up folks, here's another boatload of discounted digital fun for you to get your grubby mitts all over. The best priced games from all over the land are collected right here for your convenience. Get yourself over to SavyGamer.co.uk to keep up to date with all the cheap games, as and when they are cheap.

Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3: Round 25

Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3: Round 25

Episodes from Liberty City, SSFIV, SEGA All-Stars Racing, Superstars V8, Dead to Rights and AVP.

As we reach the quarter-century of cross-platform Face-Off features, we thought it was time to do a little spring-cleaning on the format itself. The idea was to supplement the already vast range of video and screenshot assets with additional analysis and data.

The reasoning was that while we love telling you what we think, the more information you have, the more informed your purchasing decisions will be and the more discussion points there are for the inevitable post-article comments pile-up.

So what's new? We've ignored the superior range of surround sound options possessed by the PS3 for too long, so for those of you who have their consoles hooked up to a decent amplifier capable of multiple audio decoding options, now you can see where PS3 employs less compression or additional sound channels. While Xbox 360 games are standardised at max quality 640kbps Dolby Digital 5.1, PlayStation 3 supports the same format and also 5.1 lossless PCM, 7.1 lossless PCM, plus fan-favourite DTS. This is now highlighted for each game.

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Was the GTAIV DLC a 12-month exclusive?

Was the GTAIV DLC a 12-month exclusive?

Stakeholders won't say, but it looks like it.

Rockstar has told Eurogamer it cannot comment on how long the Grand Theft Auto IV downloadable content was exclusive to Xbox 360, although in hindsight it appears to have been a 12-month deal.

Just under 14 months elapsed between The Lost and Damned appearing on Xbox Live and its eventual appearance on PS3 this month, suggesting the deal may have been measured from the release of the first add-on (the second, The Ballad of Gay Tony, arrived relatively recently on Xbox 360 and is already available for PS3).

Microsoft also wouldn't verify the length of the exclusivity deal to Eurogamer. The platform holder reportedly paid millions and millions of dollars to secure it in 2006. Sony pointed us back to Rockstar and Microsoft.

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GTA episodes live on PSN tomorrow

Plus: Final Fight! Sam & Max! Skate 3 demo!

Sony has updated the PlayStation shops with all manner of treats - and the promises of the GTA IV downloadable episodes, which are both due to go live tomorrow.

GTA IV episodes delayed on PC/PS3

Sony asks for last-minute changes.

Rockstar has announced that The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony have been delayed on PC and PS3 due after Sony asked for some changes.

GTA V to be announced before E3?

GTA V to be announced before E3?

Analyst reckons suspension is building.

Games industry analyst Mike Hickey has said a Grand Theft Auto V announcement may be on the way - and that it could be made before E3 kicks off in June.

"There is building suspension for a pre-E3 GTA V announcement," he said, as reported by Industrygamers. "Although we expect nothing from Rockstar at this year’s official E3 event."

Rockstar is more likely to hold a separate press event and make the announcement independent of any publisher conferences, apparently. That's because GTA V really is kind of a big deal.

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Episodes From Liberty City

Episodes From Liberty City

Happy choppers.

It's nothing if not strange to be reviewing the same thing for the second time in a fortnight, but then Rockstar has sent us down strange roads before. The Ballad of Gay Tony is the same now as it was last week, but the fact that it is also available on a disc it shares with The Lost and Damned, and which doesn't require the original Grand Theft Auto IV to play, asks different questions of a review.

It's possible, for example, that you're considering whether to buy this having never bought or played GTAIV - in which case your impressions may be mixed. The Liberty City of the current generation is a vast, colourful and varied environment, brimming with the series' trademark satirical humour and eccentricity, but whereas 18 months ago it seemed a technical marvel, 18 months on it's merely at the handsome end of competent, and drops frames more noticeably than an epileptic optometrist. And the core of GTA is very much still going to icons on the mini-map to receive a briefing and then driving somewhere to do some shooting, or similar.

Mechanics are solid but unspectacular, and lack the finesse intervening games have standardised. The cover-based third-person gunplay, for example, is sticky, and awkward in close quarters, and you never feel as comfortable as you do in comparable action games when you're moving around on foot. Sometimes, as when jumping or navigating buildings, it's as though the programmers spent so long making the world around you operate properly that they struggled to accommodate your need to touch it. The driving physics have also proven divisive. With that said, modern GTA is less frustrating than it was on PS2 and Xbox in many respects; you can even restart missions without having to go off and buy your guns again. Progress!

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GTA DLC "would have outsold Killzone"

Greenberg oils up for another round.

Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg has said that Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned is "the most successful game add-on content we've ever launched" on Xbox Live.

GTAIV DLC features male nudity

Hottest coffee yet.

Word sweeping the internets is that Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned features full-frontal male nudity in one of its mission cut-scenes.

Rockstar: GTA DLC amounts to full game

"There's nothing like it," apparently.

Rockstar development chief Jeronimo Barrera believes Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned packs a full game's worth of content and sets a new benchmark for downloads.

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

Although Rockstar may not be adding much to the footprint of Liberty City with The Lost and Damned - conjuring a fresh island out of the muddy rivers, or laying down a fine spray of new skyscrapers, flyovers, and dockyards - the company has been hard at work building stories; sculpting new characters, fabricating dense relationship networks of cause and effect, and plumbing in a buried system of deadly motives and smouldering resentment. The Lost and Damned's narrative sees the developer on top form, creating an unnerving pressure-cooker tale that draws on the familiar GTA themes of hierarchy, revenge, and going for a drive with a passenger who doesn't mind it when you flip the car at an intersection and plant it upside down in a bakery.

This time it's the bikers who hog the spotlight. Johnny Klebitz has been in charge of The Lost Motorcycle Club while the President, Billy Grey, has been in rehab. Billy's out now, and somewhat perturbed to see his rowdy fightin' and fumin' street gang turned into a (relatively) smooth-running corporation, a truce in place with long-time rivals The Angels of Death, and a new strategy based on lying low and allowing the flourishing narcotics business to bring in the money. It's old versus new, then, and within the space of one mission, dangerous tensions are simmering away between Johnny and Billy, with the stage set for a conflict that could tear the gang apart.

While the tale is simple enough, the telling is brilliant and often devilishly subtle. Johnny and Billy are entirely empathetic leads - the former gruff yet care-worn, the latter gently terrifying, but somehow touching - and their performances set new standards for videogame naturalism. The story's topical themes find time to take in elections, the recession, and the knotty question of good governance, and while there are shoot-outs, explosions, chases, and car-jackings, Rockstar's greatest talent is for restraint - refusing again and again to let the main characters' feud spill over into actual violence, until the sense of impending doom is almost unbearable. The game may revel in an open world, but, once more, Liberty City's citizens are thoroughly trapped: hemmed in by financial imperatives, pathetic addictions, and outdated thinking. Videogames don't often ask you to think of their characters in this way.

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GTAIV: The Lost and Damned

Gang warfare: we try the multiplayer.

They may be slick at offering up topical crime and zeroing in on the most laughable elements of popular culture, but the area in which Rockstar's developers really excel has always been architecture. Long after the radio stations have lost their zing, and the story mode's been cleaned out, GTA's environments continue to deliver freeform mayhem in a way few other games can. Liberty City is not just a brilliant pastiche of New York, it's New York boiled down to its key landmarks and textures, and then blended with the best aspects of a theme park: looping highways to spin around, sudden unexpected jumps hidden in the strangest of places, and an effortless ability to frame shiny spectacle at just the right moment.

GTAIV DLC soundtrack details

GTAIV DLC soundtrack details

Busta! Cavalera! Flex! Freeway!

Rockstar has revealed that the GTAIV: The Lost and Damned soundtrack will include a mixture of rock and metal songs to complement the story and a lot of new hip-hop to serve fans of The Beat 102.7, the original game's most popular radio station.

MTV reports that Lost and Damned, where you play biker Johnny Klebitz, promises a new death-metal show DJed by Max Cavalera on the Liberty City Hardcore station, while Liberty Rock and Radio Broker both include new tunes as well.

The new additions will be also weighted to play first so that they don't blend into the background of the game's already-extensive soundtrack, the site adds.

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If you think DLC is sometimes a little overpriced, spare a thought for Microsoft: they've dropped an alleged fifty million dollars on exclusive episodes for GTAIV. I don't know about you, but that certainly puts that drunken Mr Driller purchase into context for me.

Rockstar prices GTAIV: Lost and Damned

Content is equivalent to a third of GTAIV.

Rockstar has confirmed that Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned will cost 1600 Microsoft Points (GBP 13.60 / EUR 19.20) when it's released on 17th February.

R* reveals GTA IV DLC Achievements

Don't click if you don't want to know.

Rockstar has reportedly announced the full list of Achievements for the first batch of GTA IV content, subtitled The Lost and Damned.

FeatureComing Attractions: Action & Adventure

Get juiced and get thinking.

We've had indie and esoterica, sports and music, MMOs and RPGs, and fighting and strategy, which just leaves the glamour girls of action, adventure, shooters and racing to strut their stuff.

GTA IV episode has new MP modes

Plus new weapons, cars and music.

Rockstar has revealed that the GTA IV downloadable content announced today will include new multiplayer modes, new weapons and vehicles, and a soundtrack with new music.

GTA IV DLC may not be out this year

Rockstar boss "not sure" about release date.

Rockstar bigwig Dan Houser has said he doesn't know when the downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV on Xbox 360 will be released.

GTA IV DLC confirmed for autumn

GTA IV DLC confirmed for autumn

Merry Christmas, says Microsoft.

Microsoft has confirmed Grand Theft Auto IV downloadable content will be coming to Xbox 360 in time for Christmas.

There was a bit of confusion, you may recall, after Take-Two suggested it could be released as late as January 2009.

But yesterday's press release announcing the Xbox 360 price cut stated, "The first of the Xbox 360 exclusive downloadable episodes for this record-breaking game will be available this autumn - the only console with new Grand Theft Auto IV content available this Christmas."

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GTA IV DLC on track for November

Secret source says it's all going to plan.

Sources close to Rockstar North have told Eurogamer that downloadable Grand Theft Auto IV content is on track for a late November release.

GTA IV DLC for Xbox 360 delayed

Slips to Take-Two's fiscal Q1 2009.

As part of its Q2 financial reports, Take-Two has admitted that episodic content for Grand Theft Auto IV on Xbox 360 has been delayed from fiscal Q4 2008 to Q1 2009, GamesIndustry.biz reports.

What we know about GTA IV DLC

As Microsoft goes into PR overdrive.

With GTA IV available today, Microsoft is continuing its campaign to remind people that Xbox 360 offers unlockable Achievements and will have downloadable content later this year.

Sony dismisses exclusive GTA 360 content

Sony dismisses exclusive GTA 360 content

Reckons most people won't bother.

Sony has dismissed the exclusive episodic content for the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV, claiming that a "large percentage" of gamers will be unwilling to fork out for it - at least to start with.

Sony America marketing man Scott Steinberg believes there is more than enough content in the launch version to keep you occupied.

"Perhaps [Microsoft will be] shipping some episodic content in the fall, but there is a whole lot of product shipping on the PS3 in April and I personally don't think there's going to be a huge percentage of folks who [will] jump into downloadable content for another price when they're still playing through the core product," Scott Steinberg told GameDaily.

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GTA IV 360 episodes in "fall"

"Starting" then, says MS keynote man.

Microsoft has revealed that the Grand Theft Auto IV downloadable content it has signed up for 360 will be released in the autumn.

R* denies GTA IV content claim

Says it's just bit number two.

Take-Two has announced in a conference call that it intends to release more exclusive Grand Theft Auto IV episodes for the Xbox 360 in 2009, GamesIndustry.biz reports. (We might do some work of our own later. Who knows?)

Exclusive 360 GTA IV episodes

Exclusive 360 GTA IV episodes

Due out after Oct 2007 release.

Although some got a bit overexcited during E3 when Grand Theft Auto IV appeared on Peter Moore's bicep (and Xbox 360), this time there really is a Rockstar exclusive to talk about.

At X06 this evening, as you've doubtless already gawped, the platform holder revealed that it had asked Rockstar to "throw us a bone" - and said bone will take the form of two 360-exclusive extra episodes, offering "hours" of extra gameplay.

These will be released in the aftermath of GTA IV's main release, which is set to take place in October 2007 on both 360 and PlayStation 3.

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