Gangland PC CD-ROM Official Website
by Whiptail Interactive
Developed by MediaMobsters
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
Gangster flavoured games met with little success until the release of Mafia a few years ago. Part of the reason for Mafia's success was that you were heavily involved in the action and didn't feel aloof from it like you did with the previous Gangsters games. Gangland, whilst a completely different kind of game from Mafia, goes with a similar method and attempts to get you involved with the nitty gritty events of belonging to the mafia. Be prepared to get your hands dirty because Gangland will require that you threaten, kill, bribe and all the other things that gangsters are notorious for.
Like a typical mafia story Gangland's plot is one of murder and revenge. The game's story line concerns events that happened in the Sicilian city of Palermo a few years before. It all started when Chico Mangano was shot dead on the pavement. The murderers were believed to be three of his brothers, Romano, Angelo and Sonny. By the time the police were looking for them they had disappeared. However, two years later another brother of Chico, Vincenzo, who had been living in America, called Grandpa Mangano to inform him that Romano, Angelo and Sonny were now living in the same city as himself. At this news the Grandpa dispatched his fifth grandson, Mario, to Paradise City in an attempt to hunt down the three brothers and make sure that they swim with the fishes (probably with concrete shoes on too).
As you've probably already guessed you control Mario and it's your job to finish off the brothers. The game begins with you taking orders from Vincenzo and the initial tasks are nice and easy to get you used to the games controls. Soon enough though you are your own boss and you'll be able to do all the mob activities your heart desires such as running businesses, brothels etc. You can even get married and raise your own mob family. The game is part RTS and part RPG and your experience passes on from one conquest to another. Your experience is distributed between three characteristics which are combat, leadership and business flair. All of these attributes allow different advantages. If you have a good leadership rating for instance you'll be able to employ more units to work with you.
The single player game in Gangland contains 16 conquests and 12 challenges. A conquest can be considered as a chapter/level/mission and is comprised of a few tasks that need to be completed. On completing a conquest you'll, more often than not, open up a challenge as well as the next conquest. Challenges are more combat based and successful completion of them will result in you unlocking a new character. There is also a fairly substantial multiplayer element to the game and here you'll have a choice of conquests (in which you have to build your own mobster empire) and shootouts which are basically moments of quick fire action.
Gangland can be very difficult in parts. The game has three difficulty settings but even on the easiest of the three, it can prove tricky at times. To further enhance the difficulty you cannot save your progress mid-mission. Your progress is only recorded after each completed conquest. To many this may seem an oversight and I suppose the game really should have offered the chance to save (at least on the easy and normal difficulty levels). Still whilst this is a complaint with the current version (we reviewed version 1.1) it must be noted Whiptail Interactive have publicly announced that MediaMobsters have begun work on a save game patch, which should be available sometime in March. Hopefully then this should make it more accessible for playing through the first time. I also wish the combat could have allowed for more tactical play. The combat really is quick and although the game allows you to use the surrounding objects for cover, the speed at which the battles are carried out usually means you don't get much chance to take advantage of such things. I appreciate it's tricky with RTS games and that you don't get the same amount of control as you would in a turn-based game but nevertheless the combat needs some refining.
Graphically Gangland is probably not of the standard that you would expect from a PC game in 2004. That's not to say the graphics are poor just that they are rather simplified in comparison to many other recent titles out there. The character models lack variation and it all looks a bit chunky with fairly simplistic texture detail. You can freely rotate your camera view but most will prefer to simply use the V and B buttons to rotate the view through 90 degree angles. There are a few glitches, mostly to do with the object shadows but nothing too major. There is an upside to the game not being a visual stunner though and it's that it will enable a lot more people to play the game. We were fortunate enough to play the game on a Hercules Radeon 9800 Pro but I'm well aware that most people out there own cards such as the GeForce 4 MX440 or even older and it's not fair to exclude gamers who don't have hardware that isn't as powerful. The box claims that a GeForce 2 or Radeon 7000 should be sufficient to play the game so most people should have no problems.
This is the first game I've seen from MediaMobsters and all I can say is that I hope their future games are as deaf gamer friendly as Gangland. All the dialogue within the game is subtitled and all comments that are made from NPCs, who you simply pass by, are also shown in floating text which is great to see. The conversations are in dialogue boxes that you can read at your own leisure which again is brilliant. Pressing the Esc key will recall any objectives that you have been given so you can always keep track of what you should be doing. Visual feedback is also given via icons so you'll always have a good idea of whether a NPC or object can be interacted with. The manual is also very useful and not only describes the various game play aspects but also gives important information on the various characters in the game (usually reserved for strategy guides these days) and some rather useful hints.
Gangland is one of those games that isn't quite like anything out there. Yes it's challenging but the game play is fairly straightforward so it's not too frustrating although the save game patch when it arrives, will make progressing through the game a much quicker process. I would also liked to have seen a better combat system in place that allowed for more tactical play. It's surprising just how enjoyable the conquest multiplayer games can be and it deserves to become a useful addition to the many LAN parties that now take place. Essentially then what we have here is the second game based on gangsters that really is enjoyable. Mafia might still be regarded as the ultimate gangster game but with it's mix of strategy and RPG elements Gangland is definitely a game gangster enthusiasts can enjoy.
Game Rating: 7.4/10
An enjoyable single and multiplayer game make Gangland the second gangster game that's worth owning. It needs the save game patch though.
Not really anything to fault the game for, in regards to accessibility, as there are no problems for deaf gamers.