Written by  :  Terrence Bosky (5472)
Written on  :  Jul 19, 2002
Rating  :  3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars

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Unrewarding Gangster Simulator

The Good

Gangsters is a crime simulator set in the fictitious city of New Temperance. As a budding crime lord, you are established with a small front and a few loyal gangsters. As weeks pass, you can crowd out the other crime lords, bribe officials, attempt to become mayor or even decide to go straight. Within the confines of New Temperance, you have the freedom to try different playing styles- you can concentrate on being a bootlegger or create a reign of terror.

Gangsters is divided into two sections. There is a planning stage where you give orders to your lieutenants, create and equip teams, and more. In this stage you can order your gangsters to bomb businesses, extort areas, kill hoods. The second section is the working week where you see the orders being carried out. The working week (Monday-Friday) is presented as one seamless day where you can watch your gangsters perform as instructed. Elements may arise during the working week that complicate orders, so you can issue limited commands to your hoods like telling them to tail an enemy, flee from police, or open fire on someone.

There are three versions of the map available: an isometric streetview (with buildings toggle), an overhead view of the streets, and a larger, less detailed map which shows the big picture. Each one is very useful, although there are some problems with the isometric streetview.

As I mentioned, you can tailor your gameplay and act as a crooked businessman or psychopathic killer. There are many business and crime commands available so either style is satisfactory. You have several vehicles to choose from and an assortment of weapons ranging from standard pistols to tommy guns to super-John Woo style- twin pack handguns.

Gangsters may seem difficult due to a steep learning curve and manual that lacks both content and organization. There are four tutorials included which require following instructions from the manual. These are helpful, but the best way to learn the game is to keep replaying early sections until you get the hang of it.

The Bad

Gangsters is pretty bland.

New Temperance has few defining features other than a river. I wish it had been more colorful, better street names, more lifelike. The buildings (visible in the streetview) are nice, but the isometric angle means that they block your view. You can rotate the map, but that just results in another area being blocked.

You have a whole slew of gangsters but none of them have any personality. All police look the same, there are a few character models for the hoods but they are largely indistinguishable, civilians look alike. If you hear that John "Adjective" Doe died it means very little. I wish they had done more to personalize these people.

The music ranges from decent to terrible. Ambient noise is mixed and absent from some perspectives.

The biggest flaw comes from the message system during the working week. While your hoods are out collecting protection, etc, messages will come through. There are messages about fights, hood sightings, failed orders, and priority messages. You will probably want to speed up most of the working week. It isn't visually enjoyable to watch your hoods drive around and collect protection. (Time is weird too, like The Sims, it might take your hood several hours to walk a few blocks). However when these messages come through they slow the clock to regular speed. You have the option of filtering the messages, which is convenient because the only item which requires your attention are the fights. There should be an option to pause the working week when these messages come through. Instead you have to have one finger on "P" to stop the game and issue orders.

In the end, I would have loved to bypass the working week and just receive failure/success messages at the end of each planning turn.

The Bottom Line

This is a mediocre gangster simulator with a steep learning curve and very little payoff. I would have trouble recommending this game except for the fact that it is one of the better gangster games available (though not as good as a text one I had for my C64).