The Ballad of Gay Tony

Ever since the release of Grand Theft Auto 3 on Playstation 2, I have been absolutely hooked on this series. In fact, it’s pretty fair to say that each time a new game was released I took a two week vacation just to explore the the game. Each new installment was bigger, longer and more complex, with more freedom and more detailed worlds to explore.

My favorite game of the series was and still is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I loved the characters and the character development. I loved the variety of different missions, and I love mid-’90s hip hop and I love Vegas and I grew up in L.A. and so it basically had everything I loved all in one game. OK so the exercising and eating thing was pretty irritating but overall I feel like it was the best game.

When Grand Theft Auto 4 came out, I bought an XBOX360 just to be able to play the game. I was absolutely dazzled by the improved graphics, the level of detail, the massive size of the world (and just how densely packed with detail it was), its complexity, and pure realism. In fact, I even consider GTA4 to be the most realistic driving simulator ever.

Now before all the Gran Turismo fans start jumping on me and complaining about how inaccurate the physics are, yes, I agree, the physics of the driving in GTA4 are not at all realistic. But what other game is there where you can drive while reading text messages on your cell phone, all the while plowing over pedestrians and lamp posts on the sidewalk?

But for all of is magnificent detail and realism, I found GTA4 to be somewhat disappointing in one particular area. The lead character, Nico, turned out to be little more than a hitman and I began to tire of the relentless string of similar hitman-type missions. The story and the characters just didn’t have the kind of depth that I came to expect after Vice City and San Andreas.

Now the reason why I just took you through my whole history with Grand Theft Auto I guess was to say that The Ballad of Gay Tony, the downloadable expansion for GTA4 is the game that GTA4 should have been from the beginning. There’s a much wider variety of types of missions (hitting golf balls at people at a driving range… cage fighting… BASE jumping) and a great plot that weaves itself well into the background of the main GTA4 story.

I found TBoGT to be very enjoyable, and it’s actually the first downloadable content for a game that I’ve gotten on my XBOX360 that wasn’t disappointingly simple and short. There are quite a few new weapons and cars as well as radio, TV and Internet content. It’s a great game in its own right and I probably won’t go back to playing the regular old GTA4 game any more, something that the previous expansion (The Lost and Damned) could not achieve.

Two thumbs up!

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