First impressions: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Xbox 360)

It's back to basics for the third visit to the current incarnation of Liberty City. In its original form, Grand Theft Auto IV offered a story that que

In its original form, Grand Theft Auto IV offered a story that questioned the reality of the American dream and delivered one of gaming's most complex anti-heroes in Niko Bellic. The Ballad of Gay Tony, however, snubs the cinematic aspirations of the original game and instead revives the spirit of the over-the-top crime capers of San Andreas.

You play as Luis, the muscle behind the shaky nightclub empire of Gay Tony and as you'll expect Luis spends his days and nights fixing various business problems with a lot of firepower. From stealing military helicopters to destroying subway trains to epic gun battles - The Ballad of Gay Tony puts story on the backburner and brings the action to the fore.

There are some superb missions and it deserves credit for having a openly gay character that isn't just there to be the butt of jokes and for some of the wilder missions, but the overall experience feels somewhat flat.

By now most GTAIV players will be familiar enough with Liberty City to have lost the sense of awe they had when they first stepped into Niko's shoes. And since there's plenty of scope for crazy antics in the original game without even playing the missions, it's hard to see what The Ballad of Gay Tony has to offer that GTAIV fans don't already have.

Let's hope the next Grand Theft Auto offering is the return to the coke-fuelled 80s excesses of Vice City that we're all waiting for.