GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony Review

Is the Grand Theft Auto IV series finale enough to maintain our interest in Liberty City? It’s time to come out of the closet.

By Adam Doree, October 28, 2009

The new episode is also not without those special moments that will – intentionally or otherwise – rock the boat. Where GTA IV almost tiptoed around Rockstar controversies of yesteryear – depicting sex at a girlfriend’s house while the camera stays out on the street, and even offering an achievement that meekly poked fun at San Andreas’ hot coffee scandal, The Lost and Damned seemingly “grew a pair” – and then put it on show in the game, cock and all. In the Ballad of Gay Tony, Rockstar proudly does the video game medium the favour it deserves next to typical film or music content these days, by including not one but two rather blatant sex scenes and more C-words than I could count. I for one love this sort of thing, especially as it represents one of the world’s best developers’ total defiance towards all the disillusioned hypocrites out there.

But if the moral position of GTA’s previous protagonists was blurred, this time it’s obliterated. We don’t have a clue where Luis is supposed to be on the spectrum; he’s happy to carry out terrorist activities (alarmingly, I must say) one minute, and yet shy away from ‘contract killing’ the next; happy to intimidate (rather than kill) one legitimate threat to Tony’s business on one occasion, while gunning down relative bystanders on others. There’s one character you end up doing jobs for who it feels like Luis would never say yes to; as the player I felt like saying “do one!” (it feels like the script wants to say the same) but the mission goes ahead regardless with little credibility. It later turns out there’s a passable plot justification for these missions having occurred at least, but as with The Lost and Damned, there’s really not much to link the mission logic forced upon Luis, with Luis’ actual qualities as a character. There’s an interesting relationship that plays out between Luis and his vulnerable mother however, which helps add some texture to Luis’ character.

This character is freaking hilarious.

This character is freaking hilarious.

But if ever there was a GTA game where all of that matters the least, it’s this one. The main story is really about Tony’s uphill battle in the nightclub scene, and as such, there’s a strong emphasis on the various clubs in the city. In many of these clubs, such as Tony’s flagship Maisonette 9, the interiors are convincingly designed and stunningly lit, and the alluring atmosphere inside really sounds and feels like a proper club. The camera even bops left and right in time with the music.

Speaking of music, I love the soundtrack. I know a lot of my pals are going to be over the moon with some of the cheesy dance tracks included in the game too, and it’s a great finale for the series in terms of the music they’ve included. As soon as Rockstar released the first Gay Tony trailer featuring the seminal “Pjanoo” anthem, I knew we’d be in for a treat on the soundtrack front and it doesn’t disappoint..

There's a lot more airborne combat this time around.

There's a lot more airborne combat this time around.

It goes without saying that if you like your urban dance music, classy clubs, sexy ladies, comical gays and non-stop innuendo, and if you ever fantasise about what it’s like to “own” the best city in the world thanks to limitless immense wealth and out-of-control ego, then the premise of Gay Tony is definitely for you. But it’s also fitting for this final GTA IV episode, in the way that it allows some of the biggest, baddest and craziest missions to date. The city is transformed into your anything-goes playground, and you can blitz Liberty City in a way that Niko and Johnny Klebitz were not really able to do.

Things start off fairly laid back, with the first mission seeing Luis casually thrashing golf balls at a potential informant who’s tied up to the front of a golf cart. But it’s not long before the big gunfights start, and these are hardcore from the beginning. Pretty much every mission is a hardcore mission, and it’s what players will be hoping for this long after the release of GTA IV.

One for the old trainspotter's collection.

One for the old trainspotter's collection.

The difficulty level remains consistent throughout the game, with little to tell apart the challenge of the early gunfights from missions towards the end of the game. It’s reasonably challenging in terms of GTA IV’s difficulty spectrum, but experienced players will find it pretty standard fodder – and clearly most players will be well and truly familiar with the controls and mission styles by now. There are a few new touches like paragliding and a whole lot more air combat than before, as well as some awesome new weapons like a super-gun that can take out CHOPPERS with a few blasts. But for me, it’s the characters and script that provide most of the entertainment in Gay Tony; the mission structure – despite offering a few new elements – ultimately feels very familiar.

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10 Responses to “GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony Review”

  1. UltimateGTR says:

    I’m looking forward to the PC version of both episodes of GTA IV, I must buy it! Please, Rockstar, I sure episodes perform better on PC, and there is a ideal profit as well!

  2. [...] Read Full Review > Vandal Online – 90 [...]

  3. Suwoop says:

    datts bull blood wen ps3 getting new gta sttuf woo

    • Suwoop says:

      p^lus i wantt tto gam3 $top on da Rightt day after dat versoin kame out & tto find outt it was’ntt on ps3 was just F^ plus ps3 death gave me a virus now my game on cracxk damu

  4. Brush says:

    Please, learn to spell

    you won’t get far in adult life with that quality of writing.

    …Re the game….will download it at the weekend i think…try and fit most of it in before call of duty if poss

  5. hammy says:

    i hate this episode they incorporated every crappy part of gta into this episode. i give it a 2 out of 10 and i want my money back


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