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Gangsters: Organized Crime

aka: Gangsters: Le Crime Organisé, Gangsters: Organisiertes Verbrechen
Moby ID: 3109

Description official descriptions

Gangsters: Organized Crime is set in a fictional city in Prohibition-era America, featuring over 5000 citizens including 400 individual gangsters. The player's goal is to take all the riches, through bribery, theft and aggression.

Gameplay is a combination of Sim City-style building and turn-based planning, where you have lieutenants who do the dirty work for you. The more blocks in the city you take over, the more people you have loving your work, making it easier to control each area. But be careful, there are three other gangs out there, so blood can get spilled easily.

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Credits (Windows version)

140 People (54 developers, 86 thanks) · View all

Original Concept
Game Design
Programming
Producer
Artwork
Marketing
Sound Effects
Music composed
In game Speech
  • Philip Morris Music and Voice production
Cinematic Sequences
  • Maverick Media
The Gang would like to thank
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 74% (based on 21 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 23 ratings with 4 reviews)

Gangsters is a deep, interesting, satisfying sim for those with the courage to climb its learning curve.

The Good
First off, Gangsters is not for the faint of heart. If you like your games simple, and/or don't have more than an hour a day to devote to them, then pass Gangsters by. It will disappoint and madden you; you will end up like all the mainstream reviewers out there who gave it a low score out of sheer frustration. But if you like a challenge--for instance, if you're the kind of grognard who begins to salivate at the sight of two hundred page rulebooks--and if you have the time to devote to exploring its secrets, Gangsters is about as deep and satisfying a computer game as you've ever likely to come across.

First, what it is: Gangsters is a sim. It is not, strictly speaking, just a game. Gangsters puts you in the shoes of a mob boss vying for control of a randomly generated, Chicago-style city. As such, you must do what mob bosses presumably do in real-life: you must hire muscle, manage and expand your empire, turn a profit, and, whether you like it or not, interact to some degree with the respectable world around you. All of this seems straightforward enough, but the devil is in the details because there are, in actuality, one hell of a lot of actions you can perform. Just to deal with the fun stuff (which by no means exhausts the list), you can kill, assault, intimidate, torch, raid, bribe, extort, kidnap, smash up, bomb, and ambush your enemies or your enemies' turf. In addition, there are commands for buying, setting up, and running both legal and illegal businesses, commands for patrolling and defending your turf, commands for hiring and organizing your gangs, etc. In short, if it's related to organized crime and you can do it in real life, it's very likely you can do it in Gangsters as well.

Of course, with this level of complexity comes a corresponding complexity in the interface. Many have taken the game to task for its supposedly convoluted and over-busy interface, but having spent a good deal of time with it, I beg to differ with those assessments. It does take some getting used to, and those who look with disdain upon manuals and help files will likely never figure it out. But it is not impossible, and once you begin to see how the thing is put together, it begins to make more and more sense. This is not to say that some other arrangement might not ultimately have been more successful, but the existing one is, in the end, just fine once you get the hang of it. I, in fact, kind of like it. There, I said it.

The game is divided into two halves. The first half is the planning half, in which you get an unlimited amount of time to plan the coming week's activities for all your mobsters. This is where you plot your expansion, plan the demise of your enemies, purchase new businesses, new land, new men, and new equipment, organize and reorganize your assets, set your diplomatic posture, assign your accountants and lawyers their tasks, and so on. Then, once you are satisfied with all the orders you've given, you move into the second half of the turn, which occurs in real time. This is the "work week," in which you follow all your gangsters' progress from either an overhead or isometric view. You get to watch with pure godlike delight as each gangster carries out his individual orders and interacts with the civilians and enemy gangsters around him. You are not bound, however, simply to watch. There are actions you can take even at this stage of the proceedings to deal with whatever situations may arise at the moment. If an enemy gangster starts shooting at you, for instance, you can take control of the victim and shoot back, run, or whatever. (This is true of the patched game. Your choices are more limited in the unpatched version, which is only one of many reasons why you should use the patched version--I recommend version 1.2, which doesn't suffer from the CD check problem of later versions.) If not much is happening, you can speed up the game clock to zip right through to the next turn, but if you're like me, you'll be having so much fun following your hoodlums and their shenanigans about town, you won't want to. In any case, after a few turns there will be so much going on that it's not really feasible anyway, but the option is there all the same.

The goal in Gangsters, of course, is to gain control of the city--or at least that's what you'd think. In actuality, the game can be won in one of three different ways: either you gain control of the city by wiping out all the opposing gangs, or you gain control by being elected Mayor, or you can say goodbye to your life of crime entirely and (shudder) go straight. All three ways of winning are difficult, and all three require a unique strategy. But then, that's what's ultimately so great about Gangsters and what makes it such an enjoyable game: like all good sims, it simply provides you with a set of tools. How you use them to get from A to B is entirely up to you.

The Bad
There are a few omissions in the work week portion of the game that are so obvious that they border on the unforgiveable. For instance, while incoming messages slow the clock to its slowest speed (i.e. the default speed, which isn't all that slow), they do not pause the game entirely, nor is there any option to make them do so. Instead, you have to sit with one hand poised over the pause key ready to pounce whenever there's an incoming message. Why? Because some of these messages are really important, and you will want a chance to scroll to the appropriate area of the screen to take care of whatever needs to be taken care of, such as your guys getting shot at. But that leads to complaint number two: many of these messages aren't very important at all, which means you'll be pausing and unpausing a lot for no good reason. Since most of the unimportant messages revolve around duplicate sightings of enemy mobsters, the obvious solution would have been an option to screen out sighting messages for individual mobsters. As it stands now, though, you either have to screen out sighting messages for all mobsters on a team, or none at all, which basically makes the work week section of the game much more of a chore to play than it needs to be.

I also don't like the fact that the randomly generated mobsters you start with can have a huge impact on your success. Basically, this is because you need mobsters with a high Intelligence rating to successfully recruit new mobsters, which is your first priority in the game. Consequently, if none of your starting goons has a decent brain in his head, you can literally fail to get your enterprise off the ground. Now, your first lieutenant always has a four-star IQ, but he's not enough by himself. You need at least one more genius. Thus, if you start a game and none of your base level hoods has a four- or five-star IQ, I'd recommend starting over (essentially "rerolling") until one does.

Also, as thorough as the manual is, it just isn't thorough enough. Read it, of course, and read it well, but in addition I'd recommend reading anything else Gangsters-related you can get your hands on. In particular, the Readme file for the Platinum version of the game (I don't know about others), and the Prima strategy guide (available in abbreviated form online at Prima's website) were invaluable to me.

The Bottom Line
Gangsters is a game for those who like difficult games. Contrary to popular myth, it is not broken, nor is it too complicated. It's just a complex game with a correspondingly complex interface. It is marred somewhat, in my judgment, by an overly tedious reliance on the pause button in the work week screen, but other than that, I have few complaints. Gangsters deserves to be considered right alongside the best of them in the top tier of strategy games. Besides that, it's a heck of a lot of fun!

Windows · by Jim Newland (56) · 2002

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).

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5397) · 2002

Hopefully worth the effort

The Good
I've only been playing it a few days so this is a preliminary view. So far so good but I hope I won't be disappointed. It does evoke the gangster period fairly well. There are a lot of options which enhance the sense of realism. As the other reviews say, it is definitely a Sim as much as a game. There is a lot of challenge, and a fairly good sense of period.

The Bad
It is difficult to learn - any extra resources would be helpful. As suggested in another review I looked at the Primagames "Fast Track" guide. There is also a strategy guide at the developers' site. This also has a list of buildings which is missing from the manual. They really should circulate a strategy guide with the game. I am still trying to figure out why, in week 8, 27 of my 50 guys were mowed down by the cops. I think one of them was Wanted, and the police shot him, other hoods shot back, and it started a chain reaction. But I don't know! The management can get tedious, particularly as your turf grows - and at the moment I don't trust my Lieutenants to manage their own patches of turf.

The Bottom Line
A challenging resource-management game set in the world of 1920's gangsters. It simulates the experience of being a crime lord's accountant as much as it does the experience of being a crime lord.

Windows · by Spike Robinson (2) · 2002

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Marketing

Eidos made plans to hire an actual gangster, convicted in the 1960s, to appear at a trade show in Europe to promote the game. When the press came down on them hard for this stunt, Eidos PR was quick to downplay it.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

Additional contributors: Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe, Rebound Boy, Patrick Bregger, Alsy.

Game added January 21, 2001. Last modified March 31, 2024.