Game review– Gangstar: New Orleans fails in its mission
The latest entry in the Gangstar series tries to follow the proven Grand Theft Auto formula but is dragged down by bland city settings and equally uninspiring gameplay
Gangstar – get it? You’re a gangster, but also a bit of a star in the world inside this video game. If (like me) you’d never heard of this long-running mobile series, it follows the Grand Theft Auto recipe, and changes cities every entry. There are seven of them now, switching it up from Los Angeles to Miami to Rio to, uh, Los Angeles again, Las Vegas, and now we have a Gangstar: New Orleans (available for Android and iOS devices).
I’m not completely clued up about the current state of American crime, but New Orleans never really struck me as the kind of city where open-world GTA-type crime happens. For example, such as when an unrealistically equal number of minority gangbangers and white-trash hoods come together to pull off heists and randomly beat up pedestrians.
So why not New York, London or Hong Kong? That’s what I was thinking when the game was booting up, but completely forgot about that as soon I started to play.
This is because Gangstar: New Orleans takes place in a blank, vapid city full of random low-res buildings and bland sports cars. Parts of the map are named after famed districts – the French quarter, the bayou and so on – but none of it feels distinct. Not in the way, for example, that Sleeping Dogs looked and felt like Hong Kong.
Then there’s the gameplay. If you ever played one of the many Grand Theft Auto clones, you’ll know what to expect, which makes this offering all the more disappointing: there aren’t really missions, just shooting challenges framed around some semblance of a story.
You drive around and interact with non-playing characters (mostly with your fist), but when it comes down to it, the game is all about shooting. Click on a “mission”, magically transport to that part of the map and shoot some guy – and then, as the game progresses, a bunch of guys. Ground-breaking stuff, this.
How hard is it to mess up the GTA formula? Roughneck characters, gangster talk, cool car chases, a slightly realistic city and missions that seem important, even when they’re not. None of that is present in Gangstar: New Orleans, another free-to-play cash grab made for angry teens whose parents wouldn’t buy them the latest open-world console release.