On a hot night in Palermo, Italy, a terrible fight broke out in one of the streets of the old town. The sound of gunfire, screams and yelling filled the night air; the next morning Chico Mangano was found, shot dead, on the pavement. A gun was located close to the scene and with the evidence of two eyewitnesses an obvious conclusion was made; three of Chico’s brothers, Romano, Angelo and Sonny were responsible for the murder. The three brothers vanished into the night and weren’t seen since. Two years passed on the small Mediterranean Island and one day grandpa Mangano received a phone call from his eldest son, Vincenzo Mangano, who had left Sicily decades ago. Vincenzo said that the three brothers had been seen alive and well in t he same city that Vincenzo lived. Mario, the fifth brother, is sent to work for Vincenzo untill he is powerfull enough, and ultimately kill the three brothers responsible for Chico’s death… This is where you come in.
First thing you have to do when you get in-game is talk to your uncle Vincenzo, he’s your boss after all, he hands out the orders, rewards good work with cash and gets mad when you fail to accomplish a mission. By succesfully completing each mission you get cash to start up your own branch of the family tree. First you’ll have to find a gun store to extort in order to have a reliable source of income. When you take over a gun store it gives you a percentage of all the cash that is earned and it enables you to buy guns and ammunition to maintain your needs. After that you’ll have to build a reputation for yourself and work your way to the top of the family. When you become the boss of the family you have earned the respect of the women so you can pick out a nice blond and marry her in the church. She can bare some children who will grow up to be your underbosses.
There are many possible ways to win the game although it certainly isn’t easy. Once you have established yourself as a respected boss with a wife at your side and possibly some kids aswel, you haven’t even begun playing the game itself. You can infiltrate enemy cartels by hiring an infiltrator who takes over the identity of an overrun gunman or henchman. He can be used for intel purposes only, but I tend to use him to break alliances and starts internal riots. This is a great strategy and it virtually has no limit, you can even start a war without anyone knowing it was you who really did it. Or you could always use a more direct approach. You can fill a car with gang members, drive right up the enemy’s headquarters and start shooting.
There’s no quick way to win Gangland. You have to carefullly plan every step you make if you want to have total control over the city. You can be attacked or ambushed yourself so you’ll have to fortify your position in order to survive. I won’t go any further into this since the possibilities to reach your goal are endless.
The Singleplayer is divided into 2 modes; Conquest and Challenge. In between the Conquests are 12 Challenges. Challenges are short action packed games that unlock special characters that can be used in the Conquests. The Multiplayer is divided into Conquests and Shootouts. In Multiplayer Conquests you can battle against the computer or human players in a race to build the strongest family, kill the most enemy families, etc. There are 20 Conquest maps in 4 of which you start by working for your uncle. Shootouts are my absolute favorite; it’s not about earning money or building a family. These short games are solely about using a small team to hunt down and kill the other players. Shootouts will be more appealing since the action is more direct, and a lot quicker than the “build-up-a-family-first,then-kill-everything-one-by-one” approach you have to take if you play a Conquest-game.
The gameplay is generally good, but sometimes difficult and it has its flaws. A simple gunfight requires a lot of attention to detail, not a gunfight between 2 or 3 people of course, but when you got more participants, you have to give everyone cover, decide what kind of weapon and ammunition you’re going to give him/her, when and if you can retreat someone temporarily to heal the unit, etc. Also when you’re driving a car around it feels weird, doesn’t matter if you’re a skilled driver or not, you’ll end up crashing your car into something along the way. It remembers how long you turn a certain way, so if you were frantically trying to turn left but suddenly decide you have to go right, the car doesn’t respond and keeps turning left untill it’s “done” turning left. Pretty funny to see, but not if you’re fleeing a murderscene with a burning car and heavily wounded units on the backseat in the middel of enemy territory. You could compare the gameplay of Gangland with Gangsters 2, only you can do almost everything by yourself in Gangland, from steering your own vehicle to providing cover to your gang members in a gunfight and raising a family.
The graphics are nice. The game is supported by an interesting 3D engine which allows you to fluidly play the game with a Pentium III 600Mhz. You’ll need to have a videocard with 32mb ram though, for the Singleplayer at least. You’ll need more if you want to enjoy the variety of online gaming. All the characters and buildings have realistic textures and the animations are nicely done aswell. The game environment misses variety though. A change of scenery would have been nice. The sound is satisfying if it’s there, I found it disappointing to get a briefing with only the first sentence shortened into something they could re-use later on. Same goes for any conversation you’ll commence; one sentence, read the rest… Quite disappointing. The music is repetitive but it does the job, you’ll end up hearing machineguns firing and screaming enemies anyways.
Gangland is a good cocktail of RTS, RPG and SIM. MediaMobsters have succeeded in making it more than a “Gangsters 3” by throwing in complete control and great action in a 3D environment. If you’re searching for something else then you should give this one a try.