Still though, I can't help but consider TBOGT in the contest of having just played The Lost and Damned. Some differences are a matter of personal preference, Gay Tony being more geared to my liking in terms of fast cars, music styles, and lots and lots of explosions.
TBOGT is the story of Tony Prince and Luis Lopez, partners in the night club business who've fallen under the debt of some of Liberty City's underworld. Of course, that's how it always goes isn't it? Motivations in Grand Theft Auto gameplay is often a very short list, at the top of which is most often money. The general mission lay out can often be surmised as go here, fetch me this, kill these people, and TBOGT doesn't stray too far from that.
Early in, Tony is heavily established as your partner who's almost always gotten himself into a mess. As far as the stories and cutscenes are concerned, most missions involve Luis metaphorically running around with a pooper scooper and taking care of Tony's "business." Still, as nearly every character badmouths Tony while he's not around, Luis defends him. That defense is endearing and ties the player to Tony.
Still, there's the usual mission structure and the usual cast of assholes. Despite that, everything seems a lot more fresh, and every mission feels brisk. Whether you're blowing up a yacht, crawling the length of a train and dodging helicopters, or parachuting after a plummeting blogger, the elements seem endless. TBOGT also outdoes IV's cast of characters in their ego stroking, if you can imagine that.
The Ballad of Gay Tony is a long drink in the desert. It's wide mission variety never has you doing the same thing twice, even though some of the new vehicles and weapons will make you want to. Luckily, replaying missions is available after completing the campaign, and that replayability adds endless value to a campaign that only costs $20 (depending on how you look at it).
PLAY READ WRITE / REVIEW SCORE: 5 OUT OF 5