Published on July 9th, 2013 | by Firzan Fauzi1
Gangstar Vegas Review
If you know of Gameloft the developer, you know that they’ve made a name for making clones of popular console games for smartphones. Gangstar is Gameloft’s copy of the popular Grand Theft Auto series which, just like most of Gameloft’s franchises, are good but never better than the original. Worse for Gangstar, two GTA games are actually available on smartphones : GTA3 and GTA Vice City, so it’s up against the very series it copies. The latest entry in the series is Gangstar Vegas, which means lots of sinful activities for you to indulge in. The question is, can it stack up against GTA?
The graphics in Gangstar Vegas is mixed, literally. There seem to be two sets of graphics during cutscenes, one is high quality, with full motion and dynamic lighting effects, which looks really nice. Then there is another, with no effects, and with the characters having their mouths sewn shut. It’s a very weird decision to have two sets of graphics, I mean sure, it shows off what Gameloft can do with graphics, but it results in a very disjointed experience.
The in-game graphics is exactly the same as the poorer quality of the cutscenes. Overall the in-game graphics are still pretty impressive for a portable device, especially when you’re walking around the streets of Vegas with its bright lights. The detail here is very nice, buildings look very detailed, and the streets are alive with so many NPCs walking around.
The bad part of the graphics that you can’t help but notice is the draw distance and glitches. The draw distance is not great. As you drive around you’ll see textures start to generate in front of you. Vehicles / people are marked with a blue “X” seconds before they are generated. Then there are the glitches: It doesn’t happen too often, but often enough to be noticeable. Even GTA games have their own share of glitches, but I can swear that I notice them more on Gangstar than on GTA Vice City.
Gameloft “scored” with the inclusion of Skrillex as their main music for Gangstar Vegas. I say “scored” because Skrillex and dubstep in general is really, acquired taste. Personally I went through my dubstep phase already, and now I generally don’t enjoy dubstep too much. The radio station offers more variety, but in the main menus all the music you can get is dubstep.
Story and the Main Missions
You play as Jason, an MMA fighter who was supposed to lose a fight at the orders of a mafia boss, Frank. Instead, Jason wins and is hunted by Frank and the gang. The story follows Jason’s journey to avoid being caught and killed by Frank.
The main missions should be quite familiar to anyone who has played Gangstar or even GTA. It mostly consists of killing your enemies, running away from the police, stealing cars, etc. It’s a good mix for all 80 missions, and they tend to be short which is ideal for a game designed for on-the-go gaming. The story also introduces you to a number of characters, and they are the typical bunch you’d find in a GTA game. The most interesting has to be Reverend Whitman, a church man who is running for office, but is actually corrupt to the core. Only in video games.
There are also side missions you can attempt to get more money outside the main missions. The missions are mostly races (bikes, cars, planes, boats) or rampages (kill people/destroy stuff). There’s a lot to attempt, and each side mission has a rank to achieve, so you can come back and attempt for a better rank.
Of course, a game in Vegas is not complete without gambling. There isn’t anything special here really, you can try your hand at Blackjack, Video Poker or Slots. It’s a necessary thing to include considering the setting of this game, but I generally shy away from the gambling, since it takes too much time and you may end up losing money.
The on-screen controls are good. The buttons will change depending on the context: Walking, riding a car, riding a motorbike, riding a boat. You can customize this in a way, and overall I found the controls easy to use and much more easier to use than the controls in GTA.
GTA Optimized for Mobile
One particular point that I like about Gangstar Vegas is that it’s clearly optimized to be mobile-friendly. Pausing the game will give you immediate access to the shop, which is really handy especially in the middle of missions, where you can buy stuff should you run low on health supplies or ammo. Some may argue that this makes the game easy, but with mobile gaming, you just don’t have the time to be repeating missions just because you forgot to buy enough ammo. The use of properties to travel quickly to missions is also a very welcome addition and saves you time of travelling to a mission.
Since this is a paid game, I guess the main question before we conclude is, is it worth the money? Going for $7, Gangstar Vegas is certainly a very expensive game by Play Store standards. But you do get a lot of gaming in Gangstar Vegas, and in a Play Store where a majority of games are geared towards the casual gamer, it is nice to have a game that is more for the real gamers out there. To be honest, $7 is a steal for a game that could easily have sold for more than $20 on consoles.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Gangstar Vegas. It’s probably the closest that you’ll get to playing a current-gen GTA on your mobile device. There’s a lot of stuff to do here, whether it’s the main missions, the numerous side missions, or just generally walking around creating havoc. Sure, the technical glitches and the inconsistent graphics are really annoying, but I find myself enjoying the game in spite of these problems. If you’ve already tried GTA3 and GTA: Vice City on Android, then Gangstar Vegas is a nice game to try next.
Summary: There's a lot to like about Gangstar. There's enough missions to keep you company, and the world is impressively big enough that you'll have fun just exploring the world. The game is still quite unpolished though, the glitches, draw distance, etc. are small blemishes to an otherwise entertaining game.