The Lost and Damned and Niko

29 01 2009

A large cast of varied and intriguing characters isn’t something new when the topic is Rockstar and its organized crime series Grand Theft Auto. The case isn’t different here, when the release of  GTA4’s DLC is less than a month away. “The Lost and Damned” puts the player in the shoes of Johnny, a member of  the biker gang, The Lost, who crosses paths with Niko, GTA4’s eastern european protagonist, a couple of times. The interesting element here is the development of the same setting (or scenario) through new characters and events.

Where initially there could have been some room for doubt, it seems there isn’t any more. The developer of the GTA series is apparently using the same approach as the one they used in “Liberty City Stories” and “Vice City Stories”. The main characters are related to the original game’s plot and characters, but their events take place years after or before and affect indirectly the whole setting, rather than a lot of specific story-events. The website for the DLC simply confirms that by stating “The Lost and Damned All-new missions and a new storyline that interweaves with the original story arc of Grand Theft Auto IV“. One can only conclude that at certain point the player will revisit a scene in which Niko and Johnny exchange glances or indirectly communicate.

As a writer, I understand the change of protagonist. Niko’s story has been finished. His tale has been told and because it ultimately reaches its end you understand the implications. Whereas much of its profound meaning could be lost in the case of an extension through means of an expansion of sorts and that bitter taste of an “american dream gone wrong” would be forgotten. The main character’s purpose, in this case Niko, has already been fulfilled. Yet, there are many other stories and tales to be explored in Liberty City, like Johnny, and that is where temptation lies. As well as other genetically superior characters, right “meh breda”?

Whether its Rosenberg talking to Vercetti on the phone, Toni Cipriani giving orders to “fido” or the misadventures of the Vance brothers; secondary characters always have a backstory with more than meets the eye. The same applies to a series of theories related to Tarantino’s movies in the following short film. Take notice and you’ll find out how many different characters fill in the gaps and voids between different narratives.

And if you ever wondered what exactly was inside that suitcase in Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs might have the answer.

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