(DSiWare)

Game Review

Gangstar 2: Kings of L.A. Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Sample the sweet taste of crime

If you weren't interested in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars but still hanker for some big city crime drama, you might be drawn to Gameloft's latest DSiWare release, Gangstar 2: Kings of LA. Taking the GTA template to a download title and offering it all for 500 Points should be a pretty sweet deal, but once you've spent a while with the game you develop a bitter taste in your mouth.

The first thing to say about Gangstar 2 is this: it does very little new. Story of a hard-up immigrant dreaming of carving a new life for himself in one of the Land of Opportunity's big cities? Car-hijacking, gang-shooting gameplay? Radio stations, cutscenes, clichéd dialogue and plenty of go-here, collect-this, speak-to so-and-so missions all make up the game's rich tapestry, though there's one major problem with that: it's completely insincere.

In GTA and most games in general, you root for your character: they have hardships to overcome, they learn about themselves and the world keeps turning. The main characters in Gangstar 2 are such ugly clichés that it's hard to care what they do, and the sexual and racial stereotypes throughout are appalling: even in the rain, nearly every woman walks around the city in a bikini, complete with bouncing breast animation, and the less said about what this game does for the Hispanic community the better.

That's not all on the insincerity front. For a game that apes GTA's gangs and guns gameplay, you'd expect the side missions that see you selling various items to be suitably gritty: GTA's drug-selling minigame may have been simplistic and controversial, but it was at least in keeping with the rest of the game. What Gangstar 2 asks you to sell instead is... sweets.

Yes, that's right, sweets (candy to you fine North Americans). In between stealing cars, shooting cops and running over pedestrians, you can pop down to your local sweet shop to pick up some chocolate bars, some lollipops and maybe a few sticks of rock. Take them to another store and hopefully you'll turn a profit which you can use to buy ammunition for your many, many guns.

If Gameloft were worried about "corrupting the children" by making them sell drugs they've failed: associating sweets with criminal behaviour is potentially an even more dangerous combination. Not only that, it completely removes any of the game's integrity and meaning: you're supposed to be a member of an LA gang beefing over territory, not Willy Wonka.

Confectionary issues aside, the game fails to recreate the gunplay with any sort of finesse either. Generally any confrontations boil down to mashing A until your ammo runs out then switching to another weapon and repeating. There's no ability to aim freely (though R changes targets) and gunfights are generally a chore. Shooting an unarmed pedestrian isn't much more satisfying as other passers-by continue about their daily business as if nothing has happened; in fact, the lack of cars on the streets contributes to this strangely empty facsimile of a bustling city. Granted, the limitations of DSiWare and the console itself may restrict the game's ability to fill a large map, but games such as this thrive on the structure of action and consequence: here, only the police seem to respond to your presence, and that involves more of the same tiresome gunplay.

The decision to use a top-down view with side-on sprites creates a similarly jarring sense of proportion and perspective, although it does allow the sprites to show far more detail than would be possible with a strictly overheard viewpoint. The running and fighting animations are generally smooth and everything's pretty clear, although larger sprites such as the cars would have benefited from being 3D constructions as they flick from angle to angle. There are some terrible graphics on display though: the backgrounds for many character portraits, particularly one for a garage, are horribly blocky, and the bushes that fill certain areas are just green squares.

The audio is similarly muddled, with repetitive MIDI tracks playing behind sampled speech and some admittedly well-crafted environmental sounds. You'll be muting the music in no time, but the other sounds aren't too offensive, unlike the game they accompany.

Conclusion

There's not much to recommend Gangstar 2: Kings of LA. The driving and shooting are both unsatisfying, the mission structures lack variety and the writing shows off every negative stereotype under the sun. The game's worst crime is the artificiality with which it is all put together: selling sweets to fund crime is the closest this game gets to achieving the corruption of gritty gang warfare to which it aspires.

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User Comments (30)

Bankai

#2

Bankai said:

Hooray! Finally NL gives a Gameloft game a review it deserves :P

Completely agree with all of this.

V8_Ninja

#6

V8_Ninja said:

"What Gangstar 2 asks you to sell instead is... sweets. Yes, that's right, sweets (candy to you fine North Americans). In between stealing cars, shooting cops and running over pedestrians, you can pop down to your local sweet shop to pick up some chocolate bars, some lollipops and maybe a few sticks of rock. Take them to another store and hopefully you'll turn a profit which you can use to buy ammunition for your many, many guns."

LOL!!! :D

Nintendoftw

#8

Nintendoftw said:

I dont like the fact they said Limitations of DSiware AND the console. The DSi's cart has no limit (That is known that is) the biggest DS game is 512 mb, no one knows what the REAL limit is. So dont go talking about limitations. And DSiware can go up to 20 mb.. I DOUBT this game used even 15 mb.. because then the game would be much longer. The limit to a GBA game was 7 mb.. NOW think how much can fit into a 20 mb game- exactly. Not much limitation huh?

Nintendoftw

#9

Nintendoftw said:

They can't be serious about you having to sell sweets.. I mean seriously, they just cant be.

Moorpheel

#10

Moorpheel said:

hispanic gangstars know that sweets sell more than drugs.
these asians in liberty city know nothing.

moomoo

#11

moomoo said:

I laughed many times during this review. :D
It's a shame it isn't fun though. Still, Gameloft sort of deserves this, they need to come up with their own ideas.

SwerdMurd

#12

SwerdMurd said:

But the first Gangstar was so....uh....good. Yeah--that's the word usually associated with Gameloft games. This review perfectly reflects how I feel about all their games--soulless copies that aren't even ashamed of said soulless-copy status. Sickening is too mild a word.

AVahne

#14

AVahne said:

tch, Gameloft sees that GTA Chinatown Wars was a good game so they decided to port their already boring mobile game to DSiWare. If you want a GTA style game, then just get Chinatown Wars, very great game

pink_dsi_26

#15

pink_dsi_26 said:

I wish i waited for the review...I bought the game the day it was released and i played it like twice and haven't touch it since. I agree with the review...the glitches are annoying, the view and controls are annoying too. I agree, the real GTA China town wars is the one to get if u wanna gta style ga, this is just garbage. Thank goodness it was only 500 pts, but its still 500 pts wasted. And the selling sweets (lollies as us NZders call them), OMG i hadn't even got that far in the game, but it sounds silly & out of place for this kinda game.

Bankai

#16

Bankai said:

@ pink_dsi_26: "I played it like twice and haven't touched it since"

That's Gameloft's entire catalogue you just described there.

Tails

#17

Tails said:

Wasn't ever interested thank god I didn't buy it. Sorry for all the people who did. :(

Nintendoftw

#19

Nintendoftw said:

Stop bringing up Chinatown Wars. Why are you comparing a DSiware game to a full DS game? Thats just retarded. How about you COULD just say get Car Jack Streets instead.

James

#20

James said:

Chinatown set the standard for the genre on DS, not just in terms of its size and production values but the fact it proved this kind of game can work on DS. Gangstar 2 does its best to disprove that - it's poorly written, badly stereotyped and I'll mention the sweets just one more time.

Nintendoftw

#21

Nintendoftw said:

CHinatown Wars didn't set anything. In fact, it wasnt perfect and is VERY overrated. Rockstar was too lazy to even make it third person... Instead they made it isometric, dont give me that "The DS cant handle it" COP: The Recruit has over 60 missions PLUS side missions. And it's 20$ at the moment.

Writersareliars

#22

Writersareliars said:

^ At least try to sound like you know what you're talking about before you criticize something. Chinatown Wars IS third-person, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with its graphics, which are very detailed and capture the game's world perfectly. They work extremely well, and I'd rather have those graphics than a pretty game with a mediocre experience, like COP.

GTA:CW is a significantly well-crafted game that DOES set the bar, and it is certainly not 'overrated'. And all 'overrated' means is 'I can't understand why most people agree that this is an excellent game, therefore it must not be that good.'

Nintendoftw

#23

Nintendoftw said:

GTA CTW is a overrated piece of trash once you beat it FOUR times like I did... The graphics are absolutely horrible. COP: The Recruit is a horrid game, and I mean HORRIBLE. Yet it has MUCH better graphics than GTA CTW could ever HOPE for. GTA CTW isn't third person, it's an overhead piece of garbage. Rockstar was SO lazy that they mae up an execuse "DS cannot handle games like the PSP versions" rather than just ATTEMPT it. They just put a cash-in game out. And YES it was a cash-in. No matter how much you think it's perfect ITS A CASH IN. It is a good game, but it's deserves NONE of he credit which is given.

Rebel648

#25

Rebel648 said:

wow this games looks pretty bad good review i might have gotten it ill stick to gta chinatown wars which is AWEEOME somebody (Nintendoftw) doesnt think so LOL jk nice review

Rebel648

#26

Rebel648 said:

oh yeah sweets lol that will corrupt some kids your kids wont be subjected to terrorism unless they watch the news lol

Writersareliars

#27

Writersareliars said:

Fine, Nintendoftw. Put your fingers in your ears and go 'lalalalala', ignore the fact that GTA:CW received universal praise, and keep saying that its chosen style (gameplay over graphics) is 'lazy' despite its good craft. The fact that you still insist that CW isn't 'third person' is laughable, and reveals your intent to troll. I'm done talking with you.

evilcorgi

#28

evilcorgi said:

my very first problem was the title screen. None of the charictors (unless they changed outfits) actually appear in the gameplay. And when you said "A 'sweet' taste of crime", you wern't joking. After you beat the game, selling candies is the only way to make money without killing civilians. Also After you beat the game, the only remotly fun thing to do (not that there was anything fun BEFORE you beat the game) is to duke it out with the cops. The lack of weapons was disapointing too. You only get 11 choses. If we don't include fists, doubles, and coppies, that only gives you 5 things!!! The storyline sucked too. All the carctors were terrible cleshés, wich was sad. Of coruse, gamelofe insisted on having a camra feature... that suckes. Overall, I would have given this game a poor 3/10. Evilcorgi out!

technotreegrass

#30

technotreegrass said:

You guys weren't kidding. I enjoy GTA-style sandbox games, and I liked the idea of having a portable Los Angeles, but this was completely and utterly against enjoyment. 1/10

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