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Video Game Review: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony could have easily been called Grand Theft Auto: Greatest Hits. I say this because with TBOGT, Rockstar has created an episode of GTA IV that is a culmination of all the greatest aspects of GTA IV without any slow down whatsoever. Not that GTA IV was that slow of a game, but you did have to build Niko from the ground up. In the TBOGT, you are thrown right into the top-tier mix right from the very beginning. Thanks to this fact it is a nonstop action ride until the very end.

In TBOGT, you play as Luis Lopez, Gay Tony’s bodyguard and right hand man. Gay Tony is your boss, and is a part of Algonquin’s elite night life. Tony owns two nightclubs and is part of the high society within Algonquin. This choice means you have access to missions and to people that in the original GTA IV you would not have access to until towards the second half of the game. You have the nicer cars. You have the helicopters. You have the weapons. There is no building yourself up. . What this does is create a much more enjoyable and memorable experience right from the beginning.

Naturally, Rockstar also has introduced new mini games based around this different society. In the nightclubs you can dance and pick up women for a quick romp in the bathroom. You can get drunk. You can even go to a golf driving range to alleviate some stress. And probably the best new aspect of the game is the base jumping. You unlock it fairly early on thanks to a specific mission, and once you do, you will have a whole lot of locations on your map marked with a parachute that you can go to and try to accomplish a specific jump. Some are just as simple as jumping off a building and hitting a certain markers. Others are trying to land on a moving truck, etc… The base jumping alone is incredibly fun and one could eat up hours upon hours just having fun with it.

GTA games have always been known for their great stories and characters, and TBOGT is no different. I truly do not want to get into much at all, as I believe it is better off experience first hand, you are Luis, who still has his boys from the block and his mother from his old neighborhood that he tries to maintain a civil relationship with. He naturally winds up meeting several characters thanks to his connection to Tony, which of course leads him to different missions and choices of whom to align with. Easily, the most memorable character you will encounter is Yusuf. If you remember Brucie in GTA IV, Yusuf is TBOGT’s answer to Brucie. He is hilarious, over the top, and will definitely make you laugh out loud. Just to meet Yusuf (and his accompanying missions) is worth the price of his admission, as he really is that much of a character. His missions alone are some of the absolute best. For example if hijacking a car from a moving train sounds like fun times, Yusuf is your man.

Rockstar has also done a great job of not only creating a new chapter in GTA IV, but also making it tie in to the previous stories in GTA IV. You will for example wind up dealing indirectly with Niko from the original GTA IV, more than once actually, and the way they weave it in, in a way like the movie Vantage Point, is truly brilliantly done. Also it was hilarious standing outside one of Tony’s nightclubs, and seeing Niko’s cousin Roman walking in being as loud as ever. So many small touches and nods to the previous games make it a truly encompassing experience, and not just a stand-alone adventure.

The Ballad of Gay Tony can be purchased as DLC exclusively for the Xbox 360 if you own the original GTA IV. It can also be purchased as a stand-alone retail game in The Episodes Of Liberty City, which also includes the first DLC episode released for the game The Lost & The Damned. – LARRY COONEY

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