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Gandland PC Review - -

Gameplay 7.0
Graphics 8.0
Sound 7.0
Value 7.5
Distributor: Red Ant
Review Date:
March 2005
Edwin Millheim



It's a strategy game; it’s an action game, its sort of a simulation. Forging your own underground illegal empire of businesses from brothels, chop shops, and other forms of gangland places including the old tried and true moonshine distilleries. In the middle of all this it’s a tale of revenge and high dreams. Too bad the game falls short in regards to delivering the experience it so glossily promises in its ultra cool ideas.

Let’s cut to the chase pizzano heh? You take on the role of Mario Mangano from Palermo Sicily. One fine evening Mario finds one of his other four brothers…”Chico”… dead. The boney finger of blame points towards the other brothers…Romano, Angelo, and Sonny who take it on the lamb from the island and head on to the new world to a little place called Paradise City.

Of course this does not look good and as a result of these events you are sent off after them, when you get to the New World you are officially apprenticing under your dear uncle Vincenzo. During your learning in the ways of the family business you will of course be looking for a little pay back vengeance for the death of your brother Chico.

Starting out you have one henchman to help you out as you extort the nearby business owners and an occasional hit contract for your dear old uncle. As the game moves along your character gains experience in the business you also get to hire more low level gangsters to control.

During game play there are some unlocks where you have access to more powerful and specialized units, this is where it gets a bit off track for me, amongst the other character types you can call into play form these special units there are ninjas. So ok, this was a bold and interesting move that the designers perhaps thought of after a long night and a cold pizza binge, but ninjas? I am not so sure that this lends itself well to the games over all environment and genre of the big gangster era.

Gangland’s combat engine can be a real pain. Things happen so fast, often times and you find yourself fumbling with camera controls to get a bead on what characters you need to move into a position for best advantage it can cause confusion. More times than not your henchmen and women, are such bad shots everything else in the game world is at risk accept the intended targets. Combat on the streets can be a mess; many of the other characters that are just walking around also carry their own weapons. If a fight erupts there are some that actually jump in the battle and start laying down there own bullet party and they don’t care who they shoot at. AI of the game is lacking some times as the enemy rather than spreading out and making themselves harder targets will bunch together. Making them a perfect target for an explosive. Some of the issues in the general release have been fixed by patches released by Whiptail Interactive. If you buy the game, it will be well worth it to get the patches.

Patch 1.1 addresses the following: a rare crash bug when starting up, input problems in the chat bars, occasional stuttering in The Docks, Shootout Balancing, and multiplayer capabilities, allowing North American gamers to go head to head with European players on dedicated servers. General improvements include up to 25% faster performance on ATI and 50% faster performance on NVIDIA cards. The patch also introduces some new features to the in-game chat, multiplayer lobby, AI and End User cheats. The second patch 1.2.1 has some new features and also has all of the fixes that patch 1.1 has.
New Features: Checkpoint saves in single player campaign, Single player ingame pause (default P). General command delay (default Left Windows).
Move to last minimap alert (default M).

Multiplayer improvements:

• Ability to disable computer players in multiplayer games (cycle through the teams to "No Computer").
• New console command: net.join [password] (can even join games only
  announced local (bypassing GameSpy)).
• New console command: net.status (to see who is lagging etc).
• Bigger, more readable console font (mostly for chat messages).
• Server list join confusion fixed.
•Zonealarm/Norton firewalls no longer cause lockups when the game is accessing
  the net.
• Hosting failed detection, port setup described ingame.

Fixed problems:

• New infiltrator definition: infiltrated family can't overrule commands being
  executed by the infiltrating family.
• The computer players now starts a little later than the human players.
• Fixed rotation problem when switching directly between vehicles.

Needless to say, if you get the game, get the patch so you can enjoy it for what its worth.

Now the first good thing I can say on the up side of the game is that the graphics for the most part are not too shabby at all. The maps that are played on are rendered in 3D, streets and buildings have a good level of detail. Other types of characters and denizens of the city roam about during game play, both indoors and outdoors, the world has a faire level of reality to it with both day and night cycles that lends itself well to the game environment.

Getting a look at the game world your character is running around in is simple enough. With the mouse wheel you can zoom in and out and rotate the view and angle pretty well. A fast view of 90 degrees in either direction is accomplished by a couple of keys on the keyboard. As noted earlier, during combat it can be a real pain, but for just running around and getting a look at where you are while there is no action…it serves its purpose.

One of the things that really bothered me was the fact that the place is devoid of vehicle traffic. Pretty odd considering it’s supposed to be this big bustling city heh? So ok, you will see some parked cars here and there. Sure once in a while you will see a car the enemy is driving or you, yourself drive depending on the mission, but that is pretty much it. I am sure this was a programming evil that had to be decided upon because of the game mechanics. Like it, love it, leave it. There ain't no traffic here pal.

In the end Gangland has a lot of content to offer, 16 conquest missions in the campaign itself, 12 optional challenge missions. With the hits and misses added up in the over all game experience this may not be enough to keep you coming back for more. As it goes Gangland is a fine distraction to while away five or ten minutes of your time, but I don’t think it merits a full play through unless you have some gamers disorder that compels you to finish what ever game you lay your hands on. Ok I give in a little there is a bit of a macabre pull to bringing your character up in levels of power and controls to perhaps one day control the whole city, It’s an ok game but may be best left for a bargain hunt when the price drops to the choice of this game and say a eight pack of soda.

Have fun, play games


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