Shoot first, ask questions later.
If the film equivalent of the GTA series is Scarface then Gameloft’s Gangstar series would be a B-movie found on a Movies For Men channel. The acting isn’t great, the story isn’t exactly thrilling and the whole game feels like it was made on a much lower budget.
But don’t assume Miami Vindication is bad. Just as some B Movies can be entertaining this sequel has got some potential, though most of it involves not following the story.
The game is a sequel to Gangstar: West Coast Hustle and is obviously inspired by Vice City and the other GTA games to a point where homage turns in to virtually nicking ideas straight from the franchise. That’s no bad thing considering how good the GTA games are but there’s certainly few new ideas here.
You start the game looking for your brother who seems to have got himself into trouble with a gang. Unfortunately, you don’t know which gang so you have to hunt them all down. This forms the basis for the game and lets Gameloft come up with some great set pieces including cop killings and demolition jobs. The story is co-written by someone who wrote episodes of The Wire.To be honest, it doesn’t show, but then the story doesn’t really matter all that much when you can have so much fun stealing cars and bikes and running people over while avoiding cops.
Un-surprisingly, characters you meet come straight out of the book of gangster stereotypes. Some are hysterically bad (which may be intentional) but others work in the context of the story. The usual Gameloft carbon copy surroundings are present as ever but somehow they’ve managed to make them fit without grating too much. Perhaps it’s because GTA did the same, albeit better.
There are so many different styles of vehicle, all drivable in a city that feels far livelier than the first Gangstar game. The sense of scale is bigger too, helped by the ability to fly helicopters and the fact that you can now swim in water. If you ignore the storyline you can still play for hours in the streets, stealing cars, finding ramps to jump and getting your wanted rating up to encourage the whole police force to come down on you.
Despite using the Retina display on iPhone 4, Gangstar: Miami Vindication’s graphics aren’t anything to write home about. Blocky characters and no attempt of lip sync (or, indeed lip movement) make it look a bit ropey at times but if you think about what the game is coping with it’s not surprising. Get into the action and it won’t really matter that the people you meet aren’t so well defined. It’s worth mentioning that as the sun sets the lights come on, bathing everything in artificial light, a nice touch that impresses the first time you see it.
Think about it this way, if you want a true 3D GTA game on the iPhone, you’ve only got this or the first Gangstar game to choose from. With a vast improvement on game world, vehicle choice and generally a better game engine than the first game, Miami Vindication manages to impress despite its own shortcomings. It’s not perfect but it sure is fun, which is why, despite some hesitation, the game has scored so highly.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 7
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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