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Gangstar Vegas iOS Review - -

Gameplay 7.5
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.5
Value 8.0
Distributor: iTunes
Review Date:
June 2013
Sean Warhurst


Gangstar Vegas

The fourth entry in Gameloftís Gangstar series, Gangstar Vegas is, for all intents and purposes, a GTA clone. Thatís not to say that it is entirely without merit, only that it takes the familiar open-world crime genre and runs with it, and much of the criticism levelled at it pertains to this perceived lack of originality.

You play Jason Malone, a rising MMA star who gets paid to take a dive by bigwig gangster Frank Valieno. Predictably, everything goes pear shaped and Jason soon finds himself on the run. Alone in Sin City, Jason turns to Vera and Karen, who control what little criminal activities Frank doesnít have a hand in, and soon finds himself running errands and immersing himself deeper into the seedy criminal underbelly of Las Vegas.

Admittedly the story is generic, but itís really just a flimsy framework to justify the myriad of unsavoury shenanigans you can get up to in the game, both story related and as optional side missions. These include the prerequisite taxi missions, rampages, street races, horde modes and much, much more; Gameloftís depiction of Vegas is absolutely huge and packed to the brim with things to do.

The campaign engages enough to give an incentive to play through the 80 missions, and the voice-overs are of a good standard, but, aside from a few shining moments of insanity, itís the usual ďwork your way up the criminal ladder to become a Made ManĒ fare weíve seen a thousand times before.

Getting around Vegas is, unfortunately, an arduous process due to terrible controls. You do eventually learn to compensate for them, but controlling Jasonís movements whilst on foot is akin to roller-blading on an ice rink. Thereís an annoying sliding animation that occurs every time you come to a halt, even whilst walking, and youíll often find yourself running in the opposite direction when trying to use the on-screen thumb stick. Another bone of contention is every time you get near an object whilst running Jason will try to climb or vault over it, making on foot chase missions and context sensitive actions a true chore to complete.

The vehicles handle slightly better, at least once you turn off the tilt controls, but youíll sometimes have your trajectory radically altered for no good reason. As I said, you do eventually learn to contend with these issues, but itís a bit of a shame that the same attention afforded to the graphics wasnít carried over to the control scheme.

Gunplay is remarkably easy; whilst behind cover you can select your target with a touch of the screen and automatically switch between the most present danger. Hand to hand combat is also quite robust yet easy to use, putting Jasonís MMA skills to good use. The customisation options are truly staggering -  practically every aspect of the game can be upgraded with skill points earned by completing certain tasks and you can always gamble at one of the many casinos or participate in a fighting tournament if youíre running low on cash. Pawn shops are dotted around the city and offer unique items, providing that you have the components required, which can be obtained by hunting down high value targets.

Properties are also available to buy, though strangely you canít have a crib of your own; although there is the option to purchase IAPs to speed up the process of building up your stats, cash supply and items, Iíve never once felt like this was a necessity, just a shortcut for those who like such things.

Another nice touch is the option to directly select missions and stores from the menu, alleviating the monotonous task of driving from location to location, although personally I felt like I was kind of cheating each time I opted to do this.

Graphics and Audio

Graphically, Gangstar Vegas is one of the prettiest iOS games on the market. Las Vegas is as glitzy and dazzlingly vibrant as the real thing, with the gaudy neon glow of the strip at night a true beauty to behold. Often youíll find yourself just wandering around and soaking up the sights; Gameloftís attention to detail in crafting this world retains the sexiness of the graphics without compromising the size of your playing area. Character models are also well done and their movement feels natural and relaxed. Thatís not to say that there arenít some issues present, such as poor collision detection leading to some amusing instances where cars and people become stuck within buildings and trees and some annoying pop up, where youíll be tearing down the street and suddenly plough into a car or shop that wasnít there seconds before.

Another small issue is with the cutscenes; although animated proficiently, characters mouths donít move. Like, at all. There also doesnít seem to be any noticeable visual indication of damage to the vehicles, which is odd for a game of this sort. Sound is handled exceptionally well, and the small selection of licensed music on the radio stations is diverse and will cater to a large audience, although I personally only recognised the band Kasabian. The talkback radio stations and advertisements hark back to those in the early GTA and Saints Row games, with subtle and satirical humour hiding amongst the barrage of puerile jokes, both of which are as equally effective in eliciting the laughs.

Final Level

Despite some glaring flaws, Gangstar Vegas is a fun entry into the open world crime genre and is easily the best game of its sort currently available. Vice City, its closest competition, may control better but it hasnít aged very well in many other areas. Some may write Gangstar Vegas off as an derivative knock off, and in some respects it is, but when itís handled as competently as this itís easy to overlook these flaws and enjoy the game for what it is Ė A massive sandbox (The map is nine times bigger than the previous entry, Gangstar Rio) on your mobile that you can dive into at your leisure. The control issues should be easily rectified by an update in the future and the slightly underwhelming story does little to distract from the gleeful destruction and chaos that forms the crux of the title.



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