Videogame: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
"I'm the only man in the history of this town with the hottest gay and straight clubs at the same time, and I'm about to lose everything!"
The Ballad of Gay Tony, released on October 29 of 2009, is the second of two expansion packs for Grand Theft Auto IV (the first being The Lost and Damned), and is the finale of the GTA IV Trilogy.The protagonist this time around is Luis Fernando Lopez, a part-time hoodlum from Northwood (Liberty City's version of Inwood) who works as a body guard for "Gay Tony" Prince, one of Liberty City's top club entrepreneurs. As opposed to the slums and poverty-stricken protagonists of IV and The Lost And Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony focuses on Liberty City's upper-class nightclub culture.It also marks a return to the completely over-the-top missions of thepreviousgames, with the action growing steadily more insane with each mission (in competition with Saints Row and Just Cause). It also marked the final chapter of the GTA IV story (although like The Lost and Damned, it largely takes place at the same time as the main game); the last mission finally ties up what was one of IV's biggest loose ends.As with The Lost and Damned, you can get it either online through Xbox Live or PSN, or at retail in the Episodes from Liberty City two-pack that includes TLAD.
Aborted Arc: The Ancelotti family's unresolved fate raises a big question. Close to the end of the game, believing that Luis and Tony are to blame for losing the diamonds, they strike a deal with Bulgarin to deliver to him either Luis or Tony's corpse. They have Rocco inform Luis of the deal and goad him into betraying Tony; Luis responds by chasing Rocco off. Their vendetta against Luis and Tony is never brought up again.
This leads to some possible Fridge Horror, seeing as how Tony is implied to have skipped town, Luis is left in Liberty City with one of the most powerful criminal organizations out for his blood and ready to threaten his loved ones. Of course, that's never been too big of a problem for him, but still.
Artificial Stupidity: Subverted. While Armando and Henrique can be idiots and wander in front of you while you're shooting during a Drug War, they know how to take cover and use weapons most of the time. The game is also not so cruel as to punish you if one or both of them get killed during a Drug War mission; if one dies, the other simply says something, and if both die, Luis says something.
Awesome but Impractical: The Advanced MG; while it has an incredible firing rate and magazine size it's stopping power is low, effective range is limited, accuracy is pretty bad for something in the assault rifle slot and because there isn't an ammo limit increase with this weapon you can't really go crazy with it and spray an area with bullets without running out of ammo very fast. The Buzzard is also one since unlike the hunter of previous games you have to manually aim every weapon which thanks to clumsy helicopter physics and controls is a lot more trouble than it's worth.
Ax-Crazy: Ray Bulgarin. He's extremely impulsive, violent, aggressive and paranoid, to the point of shooting his own sister unprovoked, possibly killing her. Later, he beheads the cook who stole his diamonds and presents the disembodied head as a death threat to Luis.
Backseat Driver: One club management side mission has Luis drive Cloe Parker back to her mansion, while she grabs the steering wheel from time to time as she sexually advances on Luis.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gracie Ancelotti. If you didn't hate her in the main game, this game will rapidly change your mind.
Bling Bling Bang: One of the weapons is a gold-plated Uzi, a gift from Yusuf. He also has a golden attack chopper.
Book Ends: Not within the game per se, but for the GTA IV era as a whole. The main game's introductory Cut Scene features a cook aboard the ship that ferried Niko Bellic to Liberty City holding up a diamond (from the batch the protagonists would later fight over) before dropping it into a cake mix to be smuggled into the city. After Ballad's final mission, Luis accidentally bumps into a hobo who discovers the diamonds in a trash can and examines one the same way the cook did.
The Celebinator as well. He's not explicitly stated to be gay, but he's clearly a parody of the openly gay Perez Hilton and is EXTREMELY camp.
The Casanova: Luis himself puts it best: "You know me. Quantity, not quality, bro."
Caught with Your Pants Down: One of Yusuf's missions is named for this trope. During the mission briefing, Yusuf is seen not wearing pants and partaking in cocaine and a prostitute's services. Before Luis leaves, Yusuf's father Abdul walks in, showing disappointment in his son's hedonistic lifestyle.
Yusuf: Father, you taught me not to judge a book by its cover!
Abdul: When the book is called "Guns, Drugs, Hookers and No Pants", I don't need to read it!
Luis himself is caught with his zipper down in "Boulevard Baby", which ends with a running gunfight through Bahama Mama that kills the owner and closes the club.
Color Wash: Not overdone, but noticeable if one plays this DLC after GTA IV and definitely after the other DLC, The Lost and Damned where the colors of everything are muted (especially with an optional grain filter applied). In keeping with its lighter tone, Ballad of Gay Tony has a more vivid color palate, extending right down to the map screen. As with the other games, the player can optionally crank up the color saturation level, too, but the effects of doing so are more, pardon the pun, vivid in this DLC.
Conspiracy Theorist: Parodied with a radio show called Conspire hosted by "John Smith", a parody of Alex Jones and similar right-wing/libertarian conspiracy theorists. "John" entertains, and often voices, every single crazy conspiracy theory and bit of paranoia and racism his listeners phone in with.
Continuity Drift: Averted for the most part. Unlike The Lost and Damned, which broke continuity from GTA IV by allowing the player to free-roam all of Liberty City at a time when, in the main game, the bridges connecting the boroughs should be closed, Gay Tony starts after the events of the GTA IV mission that open up all the bridges.
Dead Foot Leadfoot: Possible effect of shooting drivers, but not guaranteed. You get the chest-on-wheel a bit more frequently.
Decapitation Presentation: Bulgarin severs his business ties with Luis when he finds out that Luis and Tony are holding diamonds that were stolen from him. He decides to inform Luis of this by sending Luis to find the severed head of the smuggler who brought the diamonds into Liberty City in the first place.
Disc One Nuke: The player can get the exploding shotgun, which can blow up cars and helicopters with only a few shots, in Yusuf's second mission, which is fairly early in the game. It will appear in Luis' apartment after said mission and 30 drug war missions.
Disney Villain Death: During the mission "High Dive", where Ahmed falls off the spine of the Rotterdam Tower to his death after being cornered by Luis.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite ultimately losing the diamonds and nearly killing each other, both Luis and Gay Tony manage to survive, kill Bulgarin, get the Ancelottis off their backs and (presumably) gain new funding from newfound rich friend Yusuf Amir to reopen their clubs. Also, the bum finds the diamonds in the trash at the end.
Hypocrite: While she constantly berates Luis for choosing the lifestyle he currently leads, and keeps urging him to go back to school, she always accepts the heaping wads of cash Luis produces from his pockets every time he visits. Luis actually lampshades this at one point.
Friending Network: Mocked with Bleeter. One character bleetsas he is being murdered, and another mission involves chasing a guy across town while deciphering the clues in his asinine posts.
Genius Bruiser: Mori Kibbutz considers himself one, with his Israeli military training and Ivy League 4.0.
Genre Shift: While GTA IV was a departure from the over-the-top action of the previous games, The Ballad of Gay Tony brings some over-the-top back into the game by having you steal entire train cars, leap out of planes and helicopters and parachute onto moving flatbed trucks.
Hollywood Skydiving: Averted for the most part. San Andreas's parachuting mechanic makes its long-awaited return, and thanks to the new physics engine, behaves much more dynamically, requiring a greater sense of timing and direction when deploying the chute. They haven't averted Soft Water, allowing you to just freefall into the sea without deploying, though this is carried over from the main game.
Informed Ability: Gay Tony proudly introduces Luis as his "business partner" so much, even Luis himself has bought into it. However, the extent of Luis' supposed business acumen is limited to making decisions anyone who isn't as melodramatic, gullible, or high as Tony would. On regular days, he's either a glorified hitman when attending to clients, or a glorified Bouncer when managing Maisonette 9.
Internal Homage: The Eighties Pop station (one of its songs is Hall & Oates' "Maneater", which is also featured in one of the cutscenes) is called Vice City FM, complete with the font on the game's instruction manual being used on the station's nameplate.
Jerkass: Mori Kibbutz. How to best describe his Jerkassery? Let's just say that he's largely the reason Brucie acts the way he does in the main game, and even if you thought Brucie was obnoxious, the things you see Mori do to his brother will make you feel sorry for him.
Karma Houdini: Rocco gets away scot-free at the end, despite being a racist jerk throughout the game. And there are no more expansion packs to find out if he gets his comuppance.
Averted in GTA V when he shows up again and you finally get the chance to kill him
Laughably Evil: Ray Bulgarin is a horrible human being to be sure, but at the same time that doesn't stop him from being enjoyable.
Lighter and Softer: While The Ballad of Gay Tony retains the darker edge of GTA IV, the story is generally lighter in tone while returning to some of the wacky fun from San Andreas. Golf cart chases, dancing and parachutes are back, baby! Not to mention the fairly happy ending.
The game also has a noticeably more colorful appearance than GTA IV or (especially) the grimy The Lost and Damned. Whereas in those two games Liberty City looks rather unpleasant at times, it comes close to almost looking downright beautiful in Ballad of Gay Tony.
Even the map/menu screen has a lighter feel to it, featuring almost trance-like background music as opposed to the heavier-edged music heard playing in the other games.
Macross Missile Massacre: The Buzzard is a stealth-attack helicopter loaded with rocket pods that never run out of ammo. If there were any doubt to its ability, in the mission it's introduced, you use it to sink a yacht. The boat needs about a couple dozen shots to go down in a blaze of Impressive Pyrotechnics, but that won't take you too long.
More Dakka: You can get an automatic shotgun with explosive shells (great for taking down choppers) and a high-powered machine gun.
Gay Tony, between his looks and his voice, bears more than a passing resemblance to Robert Downey, Jr..
The Celebinator is essentially a skinny Irish Perez Hilton, completely with the Photoshopped tabloid photos and sleazy rumors that demean reputations.
Poppy Mitchell, a perky TV and rom-com actress (described as "America's favorite daughter") whose personal life is a mess of partying, liquor, and sex, is a pretty clear parody of Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan. By the fifth game, she's also had at least two sex tapes come out, one of which the player participates in filming, and she gets into a high-speed chase with the cops.
Kerry McIntosh, the bulimic, drug-addicted supermodel, is a parody of Kate Moss right down to her initials.
The Blue Brothers are a parody of The Jonas Brothers, being a pop group consisting of brothers with a squeaky-clean Christian public image (though in private, they're don't even try keeping their virginity pledges) and hordes of squeeing fans who literally chase the car they're in.
N-Word Privileges: Yusuf Amir constantly attempts to invoke these, completely ignoring any attempts by Luis to point out that, as an Arab, he doesn't have them. Turns out Tony doesn't seem to like Yusuf's attempts at this trope either.
Ironically, this is somewhat Truth in Television; while its use is still very subjective, various Ambiguously Brown hip-hop figures like DJ Khaled and Pitbull have said "nigga" on record for years. The outrage really only kicks off if the offending party is white.
One-Hour Work Week: Luis has a job, but doesn't attend work that much as he gets sent on errands by his boss. Still doesn't prevent Tony and Dessie from calling and asking why the player isn't helping out at work.
Only Sane Man: Luis is the next in a long line of GTA protagonists with this trait, after having the trait be somewhat subdued in Johnny and Niko (mostly due to the relative darkness and seriousness of their stories, while Ballad is a lot more humorous).
Optional Sexual Encounter: You can have sex with female patrons in Maisonette 9 if you ace a dancing minigame, as well as unlocking them for booty calls.
Underlining the "optional" part, there seems to be no game-advancing purpose to engaging in this. You don't even win a trophy (in the PS3 version) if you previously made it to third base with one of Niko's girlfriends in GTA IV.
Parental Substitute: Tony is sort of a father figure to Luis, whose own father ran out on his family, even though Luis is the more rational of the two. In one of the later missions Tony tells Luis that he loves him like a son. He's on who knows how many drugs, but it's still very sweet.
Percussive Prevention: Tony has to plant a series of bombs around the city as yet another favor to Rocco but is clearly too irrational and under the influence of drugs to pull it off. Luis has to punch his lights out to prevent him leaving.
Plunder: The whole point of the Drug Wars minigame. Luis helps Armando and Henrique acquire capital for their drug-dealing operation by raiding drug stashes, deals and transports belonging to other gangs.
Power Trio: Luis is the super ego, Armando is the id, and Henrique is the ego.
Prison Rape: Luis is an ex-con and his friends tease him about it mercilessly, especially since he now works for Gay Tony.
Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: One string of random encounters has Luis meeting up with Margot, one of his past flings, who had become obsessed with him. When Luis rejects her two more times, she attempts to kill herself. The first instance ends with a potentially fatal dose of sleeping pills being pumped out of her stomach. The second instance which involves jumping off a pier? She gets it right this time.
Refuge in Audacity: Very much in the vein of the older games rather than Niko and Johnny's more gritty missions.
Ripped from the Headlines: Big Bad Ray Bulgarin develops a sudden, intense need to own the Liberty City Rampage ice hockey team, requiring Luis to make them An Offer You Can't Refuse. This appears to be an amalgam of two major stories (though with murder added; it isGTA): mysterious Russian billionaires purchasing the New Jersey Nets basketball team and Chelsea soccer team.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Most of billionaire construction magnate Yusuf Amir's missions invovle elaborate and spectacular thefts of items, such as a military helicopter, a NOOSE APC or a Liberty City subway car. Luis repeatedly points out how much easier it would be to just buy these things using his deep pockets, to no avail (later on, one of Yusuf's associates mentions that, despite his wealth, Yusuf is obsessed with what he can't buy). However, this does come in handy during the final mission, where Amir shows up in his golden attack helicopter to destroy the cars full of Russians standing between you and the airport.
Brick Joke: When Yusuf sees the helicopter that's transporting the Noose APC over the city, he says he must have it. Luis begs him to buy it legally to which Yusuf says he will consider it. In the mission to steal the subway car, Yusuf retrieves it with the same model of helicopter, having listened to Luis' advice.
However, during the optional nightclub encounters and booty calls, the action still takes place off-camera.
Shout-Out: The mission "Corner Kids" chains a string of references to The Wire right in the opening scene.
One mission has Bulgarin's right-hand man Timur accompanying Luis to keep an eye on him. On the way to the destination, Luis tries to strike up a conversation with the gangster, only to be threateningly turned down. Luis' response? '... Total fucking silence...' Try to pan the journey out a bit for the sake of comedy.
Early on, Tony gives Luis an Assault SMG, which Luis describes as "some sci-fi shit." The weapon is basically an A.K.A.-47 of a silenced FN P90, which players might recognize from Stargate SG-1
Show Within a Show: As with the other GTA IV-era games, a number of TV programs can be viewed in-game, including the anime spoof Princess Robot Bubblegum and Republican Space Rangers. And the radio stations featured in the other games are available once again, some of which contain complete episodes of programs like the Howard Stern-spoofing Martin Serious Show.
Rocco also applies within The Mafia's sphere of influence. He talks a big game and threatens Luis and Tony a lot, but when Luis finally responds with force, he ends up skipping town and no mafiosi are to be found imposing his will. Seems he wasn't as high up the chain of command as he would have them believe.
Smart People Play Chess: Mori Kibbutz plays and easily wins a chess game against his brother while doing a boxing workout, then he boasts about his academic achievements.
The Stoic: Luis. He just doesn't laugh, or even truly smile for that matter. The only bit of emotion that can be discerned from his face is barely noticeable pity for Brucie, which also reappears when he's about to (not) shoot Tony. And that angry grimace after you lose a mission? It's pretty much standard to the IV protagonists.
Luis' ex-girlfriend Margot calls him out on that, accusing him of becoming nothing but a shell of a person. Luis seems unfazed.
Although earlier on whenever a loan shark threatens his mother, he is actually struggling to stay The Stoic and not try to beat the crap out of the dude.
Straight Gay: Gay Tony. Yes, really. Aside from the name and a couple of odd quirks and rants, of course.
Supporting Protagonist: If you think Gay Tony is the protagonist because his name is in the title, think again.
Throwing the Fight: Luis is told to take one to get his mother out of a debt to a local thug. A debt she only owes because she refuses Luis' money. In a fight you only enter for her sake. If you take the dive, she calls you up to call you a loser afterwards. Gee thanks, Mom.
Universal Driver's License: Mocked. If you fly poorly in one mission with Tony in the passenger seat, he will complain about it. Your character will respond that this is what you get when your boss only shells out for the two-week pilot course.
In a hilarious easter egg, you can find the piloting certificate on Luis's apartment wall.
Villains Out Shopping: In the main Grand Theft Auto IV, Ray Bulgarin is a mysterious Russian mobster from Niko's past who deals in at least human trafficking and causes lots of trouble from behind the scenes. In this game, Bulgarin is an asshole who collects rock and roll memorabilia, is berated by his sister, and really wants to own a hockey team.
Weight Woe: Kerry McIntosh is a supermodel. When she has Luis obtain one of her rare food orders, Iron Belly Deli made sure that it was smooth enough to vomit.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Most of Yusuf Amir's missions are elaborate (and spectacular) schemes to gain the approval of his father, Abdul, never realizing that his extravagance only disappoints his conservative dad.
Coolest Club Ever: Maisonette 9, Gay Tony's other club, which you manage. Also, you get to enter Bahama Mamas, Tony's biggest competition on the nightclub scene for one mission only wherein you have to kill its owner.