Things we lost in the Ballad

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony brought alot of good things to the table on top of GTA IV, but don't get it wrong, the game has some problems.

I've been a fan of GTA since 3, and quite literally have played all the 3rd persion version, so when 4 came out I was quite naturally psyched. THe real problems that I ran into with 4 were not the size of the city, which is wonderful, but the bumpiness of the road and the awkwardness of the cover mechanic and targeting. The former is an unwelcome condition and the latter just needed more work.

Driving, to me, is essential to the entire GTA experience. The game is really about getting from point A to B, even is that is just calling a cab or speeding on a bike. It'sfrustrating when you have races then in cars that bounce along the ground, and don't stick, or slide for hundreds of yards when you try to break early. Even moreso when you're being chased by the police. And in TBoGT there are some really frustrating moments involving the travel, that would make the game alot better.

TBoGT does tell the story of Gay Tony Prince, and it's nice to see some of the other stories that were going on at the time I was playing Niko Bellic. It does of good job of integrating those stories, and even more importantly of making me care about the 2 main characters. I found Luis (the main character) to be the most likable protagonist of all three 3 from GAT:IV, and even found myself hoping that as the danger got close everything would work out.

Now the cover mechanic is where the game really falls apart. TBoGT really runs into this great problem of they want to put you in some overwhelming situations and make you fight out of them. Now that's cool, cause that's GTA, but in previous games you were also able to think/reason your way through the fight, by either driving over people or getting into better spots to fight, etc. This time I suppose it's going for a more realistic feel, but when I have to fight 50 guys while i'm pinned down on the second floor of my club and I kill them all, welll realism has gone out the window.

This is also where things get bad because while the guns are nice in this game, they aren't always the most accurate. Sometimes you can get a great headshot, and sometime you can unload a clip. And sometimes apparently you are getting shot through cover (which is really annoying when it's a car.) GTA:IV is also the first time, I think I intentionally forget the combat setup, because of how frustrating it is. The lock on targeting is nice to a degree, but getting off a wall in time to kill someone or look the other way ruins what should be som epic missions.

One the real positive side though, TBoGT brings in the best new feature for a GTA game. THe ability to pick and replay missions after you've beaten the game. The game also sets score markers for you, based off things it wants you to do during that mission, and while some of them should be fairly easy (no car damage), don't always count on it. Things like getting rear-ended sliding into the car infront of you, love to happen even if/when you're driving slow, and sometimes getting that loverly accuracy/headshot quotient is very tough.

Overall though, I recommend this expansion to everyone. If you haven't played GTA:IV this will add about 12 more hours to that experince, and if you have this will remind you of the better times during a solid game.

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