Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
|Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony|
|Series||Grand Theft Auto|
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony is the second of the two episodic expansion packs available for the PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 versions of Grand Theft Auto IV, developed by Rockstar North. It was first released for Xbox 360 on 29 October 2009, before then being released for PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows on 13 April 2010. It is the fourth expansion pack in the Grand Theft Auto series and the 14th release in the series.
The Ballad of Gay Tony follows the exploits of Luis Fernando Lopez, an ex-member of the Dominican drug dealers and the personal bodyguard (referred to by himself as "business associate") of Anthony "Gay Tony" Prince, who featured in a number of missions in both Grand Theft Auto IV and The Lost and Damned. The storyline focuses on Luis' efforts to help Prince, who is the owner of the two largest nightclubs in Liberty City and a high-status socialite, overcome several issues, including drugs, debt, mafia families and attempts on both of their lives. The story also ties up loose ends in regards to the diamond deal of Grand Theft Auto IV.
Rockstar Games said in their press release that this episode "injects Liberty City with an overdose of guns, glitz, and crime" and that "players will struggle with the competing loyalties of family and friends, and with the uncertainty about who is real and who is fake in a world in which everyone has a price." A combined standalone disc-based package titled Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, which does not require the original Grand Theft Auto IV game to be played, was released alongside the second expansion and contains both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony is an action-adventure game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. It features similar gameplay and the same setting to that of Grand Theft Auto IV, it contains roughly a similar amount of missions as that of The Lost and Damned. However the game differentiates itself from these two with new additions and features and some notable changes.
One notable feature added in, that was previously introduced to the series in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, is a scoring system with missions, which gauges how well the player did in accomplishing certain goals in a mission, ranging from minimising damage to themselves, achieving a fast time, to completing unique actions for that mission. The scoring system also includes the ability to replay previously passed missions to improve a score on it, on condition that the player has completed the game's main story. In addition to this, the player has access to new activities and side jobs, access to new vehicles (including a NOOSE Tank and a small attack helicopter called the "Buzzard"), and new weapons. Luis may, like Johnny in The Lost and Damned, call on his friends, Armando and Henrique, for use of their special abilities right from the start – Armando can sell weapons to Luis when needed, while Henrique can supply him a vehicle from a selection he has access to, which increases the more the player progresses in the story – or take them out on friend activities, but cannot call them for back-up in a mission.
The new side jobs that the player can undertake includes performing Drug Wars, taking on Triathlon Races, working on Club Management, entering an Underground Fight Tournament, and BASE jumping, the latter of which comes from the re-introduction of parachutes. Drug Wars perform in a similar manner to the Gang Wars of The Lost and Damned except the player must acquire a drug stash for Luis' friends and take it to a drop-off point; the side job has a number of variations – either acquire a drug vehicle on the move or stationary, ambush a drug deal, or raid a stash site – and the player will be pursued by rival gangs once they get the stash until they reach a drop-off point. Completing a Drug War earns money, and, like Gang Wars, unlocks a new weapon for every 10 Drug Wars completed. Triathlon Races function like Street Races but consist of three stages, in which the player skydives and parachutes to a collection of boats, take one with which to navigate a series of checkpoints, before making landfall near a collection of cars and taking one to pass a series of checkpoints. In the final stage of these races, the player's have access to Nitro which can be used to boost their car's speed and which recharges when not being used.
Club Management focuses on Luis keeping an eye on one of the clubs, where he acts as a bouncer and moves between different areas of the club (such as the Bar or the VIP lounge), dealing with anyone who is highly drunk, causing trouble, or dealing drugs, while on some occasions, he may be called to check in on the club's manager, Joni. Luis may also be called upon to assist a VIP who needs help with a problem, often after doing enough work in Club Management, which can see him bringing a VIP somewhere or doing a task for them. The Underground Fight Tournament can see the player either being a spectator in which they bet on a match's outcome, or enter themselves and take on a variety of different opponents. If competing themselves, they must complete a round in which they must beat three opponents, one after the other. The player can either fight with their fists or with melee weapons they can acquire by disarming opponents who bring them in, and can gain assistance from the audience to take down an opponent by pushing them back into the arena's cage wall. The player can earn money for every round they beat, but lose it if they are "Wasted" in a round; winning a round also earns back a small portion of health. BASE Jumping, sees Luis either jumping off a building – either on foot or off a motorcycle – or from a helicopter and either landing on a designated spot, on a moving vehicle, or hitting a series of checkpoints before reaching the landing spot.
The new weapons featured in the game include the Advance SMG (can't be used for drive-bys), the Gold SMG, the Advanced MG, the .44 Pistol, the Advanced Sniper Rifle, and Sticky Bombs. The Grenade Launcher and Assault Shotgun from The Lost and Damned also return, with the latter capable of firing regular or explosive rounds. Both these and the new weapons cannot be purchased from the city's gun stores, only from Armando. The new activities featured in the game can see the player visiting the Driving Range to shoot golf balls, or going to the city's clubs to either do Dancing or take part in a Drinking Game. Air Hockey, introduced in The Lost and Damned also returns and can be found in the city's bowling alleys.
Changes made to the game includes the ability for Luis to travel around the city right from the start, but being unable to enter clothing stores or visit the city's comedy club, Split Sides. Unlike Johnny, Luis may change his clothing at his safe house, but between various outfits. Like The Lost and Damned the display and HUD are modified from that of Grand Theft Auto IV, while the map now includes an altimeter whenever the player is in a helicopter or skydiving/parachuting. Multiplayer's modes, including free mode, deathmatch, team deathmatch, race and GTA Race modes, were updated, with a new "BASE jumping" (multiplayer competition) mode being introduced, as a variation of free mode.
After witnessing the heist of the Bank of Liberty (carried out by Niko Bellic, Packie McReary, and his brothers), Luis Fernando Lopez enters the loft of his employer, owner of clubs Maisonette 9 and Hercules: "Gay" Tony Prince. Tony is in debt, having taken out loans from the Ancelotti crime family and Mori Kibbutz in order to keep his clubs running. He asks Luis to work for Mori (later revealed to be Brucie Kibbutz's older brother) and Rocco Pelosi, an Ancelotti gangster, in order to satisfy his debts. Luis soon becomes acquainted with Yusuf Amir, an Emirati real estate developer who is interested in purchasing and franchising one of Tony's clubs, and Ray Bulgarin, a Russian crime lord he met in the club. Tony also plans to buy $2 million worth of diamonds in order to sell them at a higher price, but members of The Lost Motorcycle Club, led by Johnny Klebitz, intervene the trading and steal them, resulting in the death of Tony's boyfriend Evan Moss. Luis manages to intercept a meeting to trade the diamonds and recovers them. Bulgarin soon reveals that the diamonds are his property, and believes that Luis and Tony colluded to steal them, marking them for death. Giovanni Ancelotti orders that the diamonds are to be used as a ransom payment for his daughter Gracie, who was kidnapped by Niko and Packie.
Rocco meets with Luis, and suggests that he should kill Tony in order to gain favour with Bulgarin, so that he will spare him. Though he contemplates doing so, Luis ultimately refuses and escapes Tony's club when Russian gangsters sent by Bulgarin assault it. Luis travels to Firefly Island to disrupt Bulgarin's drug operations and cut off his main cash flow, and learns that Bulgarin is fleeing the city by plane within two hours. With the help of Yusuf (who kills Bulgarin's henchmen attacking Luis) with his Buzzard attack chopper, Luis manages to board the plane and kill all of Bulgarin's remaining henchmen on board. Bulgarin then emerges from the cockpit holding a grenade, threatening to kill them both should Luis shoot him. Luis, however, takes the risk and executes Bulgarin; forcing the deceased latter to release the grenade that momentarily causes the front of the plane to explode. Luis parachutes out of the burning wreckage of the plane to safety, and heads to Meadows Park where Tony is waiting. Once there, they both decline Yusuf's proposal to franchise the clubs, as they prefer to keep it a "family business".
In a small twist ending, the diamonds are found by a homeless Vietnam war veteran in the trash after Luis bumps into him in Meadows Park. Overjoyed, he sells the diamonds and departs for Vice City after holding a party in Alderney.
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic. At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony was awarded the Best DLC award.
- Rockstar North (13 April 2010). Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony. Microsoft Windows. Rockstar Games. Level/area: Credits.
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