Grand Theft Auto 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony Discussion
September 16, 2009 - Ten minutes into my first experience with the second (and final) GTA IV downloadable episode, I hijacked a train by carrying it to an empty ballfield via helicopter. That was shortly after leaping from an overpass onto the moving train, crawling along the top and blowing a dozen pursuing attack choppers to bits. Yeah, The Ballad of Gay Tony is a little over-the-top. For those who missed the outlandishness of GTA: San Andreas, rejoice. Every mission I played from the newest episode ratchets up the ridiculousness. It's a damned good time.
In Gay Tony, you play as Luis Lopez, bodyguard and business associate of the title character. Gay Tony owns the hottest straight nightclub and the hottest gay club in the city. But Tony's gotten himself into a bit of trouble and as is a common theme in Liberty City, he's a powerful man taking a tumble.
GTA IV let you experience the story of an immigrant in Liberty City, rising from rags to Gap khakis. The Lost and Damned gave us Johnny Klebitz, a somewhat reformed biker looking to keep his gang from breaking apart. Both these stories were gritty and starred characters who weren't particularly wealthy. They were both blue collar anti-heroes. Luis Lopez ain't that guy. He lives the good life and deals with the upper echelon of Liberty City criminals. I'd compare Niko's tale to that of immigrant Vito Corleone in The Godfather II. Luis Lopez is living more of a Goodfellas life.
As with The Lost and Damned, the events of Gay Tony take place around the same time as those of the main story from GTA IV. You'll see a lot of the same characters and get to know some of the bigger crimelords a guy like Niko would never meet. In one mission, Luis is doing a solid for Bulgarin, the top Russian gangster in the city. Bulgarin is a nutjob, of course, and wants to get his hands on The Liberty City Rampage – a hockey team. But the owner is keeping the deal from happening. So it's Luis' job to stop this guy from breathing.
Things begin with a freefall from a helicopter. Dive out, pull your chute and parachute onto the roof. From there it's standard GTA IV stuff – cover shooting, explosive barrels, lots of people dying. The P90, one of the new guns, is a beast of an automatic weapon. It fires 900 rounds per minute (I counted). Of course, you only need to fire a single round per second if you pull of some headshots. After capping the owner, it's time to make your escape. But why take the stairs when you can take the window? Leap out, pull your chute and guide Luis onto the back of his moving getaway truck.
Another new toy for Luis are planted charges. Put these wherever you like and detonate remotely. This allows for some excellent ambush opportunities. In one mission, Luis has received a tip that some corrupt cops are going to plant evidence to incriminate him, Bulgarin and another stand-up crook, Timur. Setting an ambush, you plant charges on Bulgarin's car and anywhere else you like in the parking garage. The three of you hide, wait for the crooked cops to get near the car, then blow it all to hell. Things go nuts at this point. It's not nearly as intense as the amazing bank robbery from GTA IV, but it's a pretty crazy scene as cops come swarming.
My favorite mission that I got to play, though, is the one I mentioned at the start. "For the Man Who Has Everything" has Luis working for Yusuf Amir. If that name sounds familiar, he's the crazy land developer Niko and Playboy talk about in GTA IV. He wants Luis to steal a train car. Easy enough when given an AA-12 shotgun packed with explosive rounds.
Standing on an overpass, you'll need to wait for the train's horn to signal it's passing below. Leap down and you'll hit near the back of the train. Then it's time to push your way forward. It won't be so easy as choppers come after you. Fortunately, well-placed shots with the AA-12 can take these guys down quickly. It's an awesome sequence that ends, naturally, with a transport chopper swooping in and lifting the target train car off the tracks.
The Ballad of Gay Tony takes you into the more respectable realm of the criminal underworld. Everyone you meet is a whole lot richer than what you've seen in GTA IV (and quite a bit crazier). They live well and do not go gentle into that good night. This means some new interiors, including a trio of nightclubs, where Luis can practice his club management. This new set of mini-games wasn't shown to me, but the tasks include getting the party started on the dance floor, a champagne drinking minigame, and dealing with the unruly clientele.
The highlight for many is going to be the addition of base jumping challenges. Spread across Liberty City, base jump challenges come in two types. One has you guiding yourself through a series of rings and landing in the correct spot. The control is simple and sensible. You can tug left or right on the chute to maneuver, lift your legs for acceleration or hold yourself out straight to slow your descent. The other base jumping game I played has you attempting to land on the back of a moving target truck. Base jumping tasks are good fun and bring back a little of that San Andreas feel, which I'm sure many will appreciate.
The Ballad of Gay Tony brings the GTA IV saga to a close and Rockstar wanted to go all out for the finale. From what I've played, it seems they've done just that. The Ballad of Gay Tony is an action-heavy, explosion-filled episode that could just leave Liberty City in rubble.
Oh, and there's a tank too.
New Video - Link
You can see what looks like a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe in the video.
[Edited by SuperSkyline89, 9/17/2009 5:59:11 PM]
Australia, September 16, 2009
1. Black Power
San Andreas' star, CJ, was black and that game was awesome. Gay Tony's star, Luis Lopez, is black – ergo this game will be awesome too. Boom! Jokes aside, Luis being one of Liberty City's elite gives the player access to far better weapons and vehicles (which we'll get onto shortly) than Niko or Johnny had so there is a gameplay payoff tied to his character.
2. Best Shotgun Ever
Shotguns may be one of the oldest weapons on the gaming shelf but we guarantee you haven't seen anything like this. The new AA12 shotgun comes with explosive shells that hit harder than one of the Hulk's right hooks. Shoot a person and they'll be sent flying through the air. Shoot a car with the AA12 and the fun really starts. One round fired into a moving car with stop it dead in its tracks and mash the bonnet into a mangled mess.
3. Hollywood-style Shootouts
Think of the iconic Die Hard action sequences and you'd have a fair handle on the first mission we saw, where Luis blasts his way through a private army in an office tower. Packing the new P90 machine gun (more on this later) Luis unleashes a ridiculous amount of bullets, either taking down enemies directly or crippling them by shooting nearby steam pipes. When he's out of the maintenance tunnels and into the office proper, firefights see glass walls shatter and computers explode in an adrenaline-packed sequence. The mission finale sees Luis shoot-out a window, then freefall towards the street below, before pulling the ripcord on his parachute and gliding onto a truck cruising below. This mission was insanely cool, and thankfully things only get better.
4. Parachutes Are Back
Skydiving and parachuting antics make a thrilling return in Gay Tony. You can either mess about with various base-jumping checkpoint challenges scattered about Liberty City or you can just grab a parachute from your hideout, steal a helicopter, jump out and skydive down to any location on the map during missions. And yes, we did try skydiving out of a chopper and hurtling right into the ocean without pulling the ripcord on Luis' parachute and were stoked to find out he survived it. Parachuting right into the seat of a moving convertible will be on our To Do List when we get the game.
5. Sticky Bombs
Part GoldenEye's remote mines, part Halo's plasma grenades – all fun. Luis can cause an instant warzone to erupt in Liberty City by tossing about his sticky C4 charges. Packing a far bigger punch than grenades and being able to stick to passing cars, the C4 charges transforms traffic into rocketing fireballs of wreckage and pedestrians. The C4 doesn't currently stick to people but fingers crossed they tweak that in the final game.
6. Money Train
We got to play through another intense Hollywood-style action sequence where Luis leaps off a bridge, lands on a speeding train and then attempts to walk along the roof of the carriages while dodging machine gun fire from police choppers. To help even the odds, Luis is packing his explosive shell shotgun (AA12) which can take the choppers down in 2-3 shots. Seeing these choppers erupt in an explosion of flames and shrapnel as the train hurtles past looks fantastic. Once Luis has disintegrated at least a dozen police choppers and made it to the front of the train, his buddy flies up in a heavy-lifter chopper of his own and picks up both Luis and the train carriage he's standing on. Impressive stuff.
7. Attack Chopper
Speaking of choppers, the final mission we played introduced a highly maneuverable (and lethal) new chopper. The chopper is small and speedy like a Maverick but packs more punch than any previous chopper seen in GTA games, thanks to its combo of twin chainguns and missile launchers. It was our pleasure to use this bad boy to sink a handful of boats. Our first target was a huge luxury yacht, filled with enemies firing back with machine guns and rocket launchers. As there's no lock-on aiming for the chopper it can be a little fiddly to initially line-up firing runs as you speed over the yacht. By using the chaingun as a tracer for your rockets it's soon relatively easy to pound a few explosive missiles into the yacht with each pass. After that we got to blow up a few powerboats as they attempted to flee the carnage. When we took out the first powerboat with a well-placed missile, the explosion sent a passenger flying into the air where his body was then struck by our chopper's rotors and sent spiraling off into the ocean. Did we mention how much we love the realistic Euphoria-based animation system?
8. Serious Firepower
As well as the P90 machine gun (which spews out 900 rounds a minute), fans of Modern Warfare (and big guns in general) will be stoked to see the M249 appearing in Gay Tony – it's a belt-fed, seriously heavy machine gun. When you walk out onto the street with one of these and start carving up police cars you become a one-man army. If you can't riddle the windshield with enough bullets to kill both cops before the car's even come to a stop then you're doing something wrong. Gay Tony also packs more powerful versions of pistols, sniper rifles and Uzis (oh, and the Uzi's gold-plated too, covering all your blinging and banging needs in one tidy package).
9. It's Got Every Weapon In It!
On top of Gay Tony's lethal arsenal of new weapons, the game also features every weapon from both GTA IV and The Lost and the Damned. Want to mix it up with Niko's rocket launcher or Johnny's automatic shotgun? This game let's you go nuts with firepower.
Although we didn't get a chance to see it in any of the missions we played, Rockstar assured us that Gay Tony also marks the return of tanks for GTA. Now that Luis can jump in a tank and cause chaos in the Liberty City streets it'll be interesting to see if the game will also see the return of Army forces when you get to six stars on the wanted system. It's hard to imagine how regular SWAT teams would be able to stop you in a tank, but we'll just have to wait and see.
The video shows some very impressive new features. The first is a yellow Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe with a stainless steel hood. The second is a new helicopter, one of those corporate ones all the CEOs ride around in. There's a new muscle car, front looks like a GTO, the video one has 2 hood scoops and racing stripes. A Ford GT. A solid gold phone. You can watch it here - Link
A weapons list is also out - Link
There's a 44 cal pistol, a shotgun that shoots exploding shells that stop a car with one hit, a P90 SMG, a Gold Uzi, an MG Machine Gun, a sniper rifle that shoots farther and faster, sticky remote control bombs, and a parachute.
This DLC is looking like it'll be incredible. You work for really rich people so you'll always have access to proper cars, powerful guns, awesome helicopters, and parachutes. WAY better than TLAD in my opinion, playing as people with money instead of crack addicted lowlifes.
October 21, 2009 - On October 29, GTA: Episodes from Liberty City hits store shelves. It contains the previously released downloadable episode, The Lost and Damned, as well as the brand new digital offering, The Ballad of Gay Tony. The two couldn't be more different. Lost and Damned is gritty and a story about one man's struggles in a small biker gang. Gay Tony takes place primarily in Algonquin, and focuses on Liberty City's upper class. Things are bigger, crazier, and more explosive.
It starts with the characters you meet. There's your boss, Gay Tony, who is a neurotic pill-popping club owner in way too deep. But he saved you from a life of low-level thuggery, turning you into a respectable enforcer. Tony is actually the most rational and sane of the men who'll give you missions. Take Yusuf Amir, the spoiled Middle-Eastern immigrant desperately wants to impress his father by getting him extravagant gifts -- like a subway car or his own unique whirly bird. The missions Yusuf and others offer are a bit more high octane than those given to Lost and Damned lead character Johnny Klebitz. This is Rockstar's last bit of episodic content for GTA IV and the team wanted to go out with a bang.
Some new guns facilitate the high level of destruction around Liberty City. For killing, there's the P90 assault SMG. I have fallen in love with this gun. Frankly, I refuse to use anything else in a gunfight. It's accurate and deadly.
For a bigger impact, there's the Explosive Shotgun, which fires (you guessed it) explosive rounds. It might not sound like much, but with two well-placed shots, you can take out a chopper. This is also very effective in ground conflicts, since you can blow up an incoming car quickly. If you ever wanted an epic standoff with the cops, you can hold court with a fully loaded Explosive Shotgun.
The last of the big additions to your arsenal is the Sticky Bomb. Toss it anywhere or on anyone and it will stick. You can unload a full array of two-dozen bombs, then explode them all at once for an epic explosion. My favorite is to toss one on a chopper, take to the air, leap out with a parachute and detonate my ride on the way down. Badda-boom!
Even the cars have been given a (literal) boost. In races, cars are now equipped with nitrous so you can engage and get some serious speed. This leads to some pretty messy wrecks if your driving is less than perfect, but hey, no risk, no reward.
Speaking of vehicles, there is one very special new ride. The NOOSE APC tank can be yours (once stolen in a mission) with a call to one of your buddies. The tank is not the M1 Abrams beast you might expect, but it's still a fearsome tool. You can actually fight down your wanted level in one of the missions -- that's right, you can scare everyone off. Imagine dealing enough death that the cops wave the white flag and let you drive your tank off into the sunset. I'd still have preferred a classic tank, but this is still better than nothing.
That pretty much covers the bigger bangs in The Ballad of Gay Tony, but I should also mention that there are some new bonus missions. There are a number of parachuting missions that either task you with basejumping off a tall building and landing on a moving truck or diving out of a helicopter and touching down on a specific target. But there are also Drug Wars.
Luis came from the streets. That's how you know he's a main character in a Grand Theft Auto game. He still has his old boys calling him for help. They want to start their own cartel, but to do so they need to steal drugs from rival gangs in Liberty City. Things start small, with a simple car theft and a quick escape from the cops. As you complete missions, the roadblocks get tougher and crazier until it starts to feel like there is an actual war breaking out on the street. Good thing you are strapped with so many explosives.
October 22, 2009 - GTA IV had strip clubs, but The Ballad of Gay Tony (part of GTA: Episodes of Liberty City) has dance clubs. They're like strip clubs, but minus the back room lap dances. As Luis Lopez, you manage the hottest straight nightclub in the city, Maisonette 9. Luis' high stature opens a lot of doors, providing a view of life behind the velvet rope. In the clubs, you have a few fun activities if you want to get away from the fast cars and gunfire.
If you have to Maisonette 9, you can take part in Club Management. Dressed in a black suit (and with earpiece in place), Luis patrols the floor of the club looking for trouble. Sometimes there's nothing to report. Other times there's a bum who needs to be tossed out. Well, they call it a "job" for a reason, right?
For a little more fun, you can get back in your civvies and partake in some of the activities the club has to offer. Hit the dance floor and you can turn on a dancing mini-game. This fun distraction has two phases. The first tasks you with nailing a one-on-one dance groove with a lucky lady. Move the thumbsticks in rhythm with the music and Luis will tear up the dance floor. Fill up the dance meter and you initiate the second phase of dancing. This is a choreographed dance, with everyone joining in. Match the commands on screen to follow along. Mess up and you'll make a misstep and look like a fool.
I know, I know -- dancing in a game like GTA? What can I say; it's fun.
If you'd rather cut a rug with a man, head on over to Hercules. The hottest gay nightclub in Liberty City has plenty of hunks and off-duty sailors on the dance floor. And yes, you can join in on a choreographed dance while you're at it.
When you're done dancing, head on upstairs in Maisonette 9 and partake in a champagne battle. This mini-game is only for spoiled drunks. Shake up a champagne bottle, pop the cork, and spray everyone around you. Once you've lost your fizz, it's time to down the rest of your bottle. It's a race against another chump to see who can finish first. Are you man enough to taste the last drop before some college brat?
The club scene is a small part of The Ballad of Gay Tony, but serves as one more enjoyable distraction.
October 23, 2009 - Rockstar has a great history of providing colorful characters in the Grand Theft Auto series and The Ballad of Gay Tony is no exception. While you might expect the title character to be the most flamboyant of the bunch, there's one man who stands above the rest. Yusuf Amir isn't just the funniest and most enjoyable character in any part of the GTA IV saga (sorry, Roman!), he ranks among the best in any GTA game.
What makes Yusuf so special? He's an enthusiastic, well-meaning, ridiculous rich kid desperate to please his father. Unlike most Rockstar characters, Yusuf isn't self-destructing, in over his head, or on the way down. He's rich and his goal is to find a way to please his father. That might mean stealing him a rare helicopter, building the tallest skyscraper in Liberty City, or stealing a tank.
In the mission "Caught with Your Pants Down," Luis Lopez arrives at Yusuf's penthouse to find him in his tightie whities, talking to a disinterested hooker. Yusuf's latest scheme is to steal a NOOSE APC tank and he's willing to pay big to get it. As Luis snags the cash, Yusuf's father barges in. Caught off guard (with his pants down, no less), Yusuf mumbles some incoherent excuse and pushes Luis and the call girl out the door.
The mission itself offers a glimpse of the over-the-top nature of The Ballad of Gay Tony. You drive Yusuf's gold-plated car to Star Junction, where a helicopter lands during rush hour to pick you up. After flying across the city, you come to a transport helicopter carrying an APC tank. You free the tank by shooting the cables, leap out of the chopper and parachute down to where the tank lands. Then things get crazy.
The APC Tank is such a badass that you can use it to force your wanted level down. Roam the streets of the city and blow the hell out of every cop car and NOOSE van that comes by. Eventually the cops get so beaten down, they just stop showing up. Sooner or later, someone has to make the call that letting the guy with the tank ride off into the sunset is the right call.
The tank isn't the M1 Abrams variety with a giant turret that you might hope. This is a compact, highly durable tank designed for patrolling a metropolitan area. It doesn't pack a giant bang, but you can destroy other vehicles with its gun, or just run right through them.
[Edited by SuperSkyline89, 10/26/2009 9:22:42 AM]
October 28, 2009 - In The Ballad of Gay Tony, you take on the role of Luis Lopez who works for the title character. Where GTA IV star Niko Belic and Lost and Damned anti-hero Johnny Klebitz are men of little means attempting to rise up in the world, Luis has already made his transition from rags to riches. Tony Prince, owner of the biggest straight and gay nightclubs in Liberty City, took Luis under his wing and made him something. The Ballad of Gay Tony isn't about living in squalor. You live well and you work for the richest men in the city.
You might be wondering why this episode isn't called "The Ballad of Straight Luis." There are two reasons for this: a) Rockstar's smart enough not to give a downloadable episode a terrible name and b) This is Tony's story viewed from Luis' perspective. Luis' rise to the top happens before the beginning of Gay Tony and just about every action he takes in the game is tied to Tony's story, not his own. Gay Tony is more about the side characters -- who are wonderfully outrageous -- than it is about Luis. This makes for some entertaining cutscenes, but the story itself (which follows the trail of the stolen diamonds from GTA IV to its conclusion) isn't very compelling. Luis is uninteresting, overshadowed by the big personalities that surround him.
Many of the missions take place in Algonquin, Liberty City's version of Manhattan. Though there are a few early missions that tie into Luis' old life, they are throwaways and very quickly the story focuses on the problems of Gay Tony. The missions are jobs for some of the most unstable people in the city, including Tony, the ridiculous Yusuf Amir, and the bat-s*** crazy Russian mobster, Bulgarin. While there are still the standard crop of "these guys just betrayed you, shoot your way out" GTA missions, there are a number of others that are more over-the-top than anything in GTA IV or The Lost and Damned.
Bulgarin, for example, is obsessed with owning Liberty City's hockey team, the Rampage. So much so that he sends Luis on a few missions to strong-arm the owner. And I mean strong arm in the GTA sense -- out a window. At one point, you leap out of a helicopter and parachute onto a rooftop, wax some guards, throw an innocent man out a window, then take a leap of faith from 20 stories up. Don't worry, you have a second chute you can pull as you make your escape, landing in the back of a moving getaway truck.
The real star of Gay Tony, though, is Yusuf. This guy is lovable but completely nuts. He just wants his Arab Sheik father to be proud of him. What do you get for the man who has everything? How about stealing an attack chopper or a subway train? Or maybe you construct the tallest building in Liberty City? Money is no object to Yusuf and Luis has no objections to killing for cash. The two make an excellent team.
Of course, bigger jobs mean bigger toys to play with and The Ballad of Gay Tony is packed with weapons that give a big bang. Helicopters play a larger role, which is both good and bad. It's certainly faster and easier to travel in a chopper and the new ones are stocked with weapons, but mid-air battles are still a challenge. Why does Rockstar include a lock-on for guns when you're on foot but not when you're in a helicopter? There are a few missions that require you to do battle in the air and all are a challenge simply because it's difficult to target enemies. The high-flying elements are a welcome part of the Gay Tony storyline, but they should have been refined.
Fortunately, the majority of missions don't focus on mid-air confrontations. Luis has plenty of weapons to fulfill his missions, including the P90 assault SMG, which is my new gun of choice. This thing is seriously bad ass. You will absolutely own anyone who stands in your way with a tap of the trigger. Another goodie is the shotgun with explosive rounds. It's powerful enough to take out cars and choppers with a couple of well-placed shots. And then there's the stick bomb. You can slap these on cars, toss them at cops, drop them as you leave the scene of a crime and then manually detonate with a press of the D-Pad.
Oh, and there's a tank. No, not an imposing M1 Abrams tank, but a compact APC NOOSE tank. It's built for policing metropolitan areas. There's a tiny turret powerful enough to demolish cars and choppers in one shot, but it's not the kind of slick tank that's going to help you pick up chicks.
Along with a bigger, badder, bolder attitude, The Ballad of Gay Tony includes some welcome additions. You receive a score at the end of every mission. Once you beat the game, you can replay any mission using your phone and attempt a higher score. There are also 15 base jumping challenges for those who missed doing silly stuff in a GTA game.
On top of this are 25 Drug Wars side quests. Your buddies from the old days, when you were a petty thug, need your help. They want to build a drug cartel but have no money. They plan to start their empire by stealing drugs from rival gangs. Each Drug Wars scenario gets progressively more difficult and hectic. It's mindless fun -- just the kind of fun I like. If fisticuffs is more your thing, you can join the fight club and take on other shirtless brawlers. It's not as explosive as Drug Wars, but it's another way to eat up some time.
Last, but not least, are the clubs themselves. You manage Maisonette 9 for Tony and can enjoy its offerings any night of the week. You can get down on the dance floor in a simple, but enjoyable mini game, compete in totally hetero champagne battles, or try your luck at club management. I wouldn't recommend that last one. Being a club manager is boring. You just walk the floor and look for trouble. If there is trouble, you target the drunk and watch a cut-scene of Luis throwing him out. Yawn. There's also Tony's gay club, Hercules, where you can dance with some shirtless studs if that's your thing.
[Edited by SuperSkyline89, 10/29/2009 9:09:26 AM]
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