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     " ...A great concept muddied by mediocre execution in too many critical ways. "

      Title: Gangland by Whiptail Interactive

      Format: Mafia inspired RTS

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: Part Sims, part RPG, and part real time Sopranos, Gangland is the RTS that puts you in control of your own crime syndicate. So, what do you say, want to be a made monkey?

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Pretty standard for modern RTS faire, Gangland's models look good, though are not in any significant way remarkable. They are nicely rendered and depict what they are pretty clearly though lack the detail and polish we're seeing for some of the other games on the market. What does stand out graphically, however, is the considerable depth and lusciousness that were put into the environments. Set in the fictional world of Paradise City, Gangland's streets look like some sick sweat pants wearing hit man's idea of heaven. Dilapidated and creepy, the only functional business as speak-easies and gun shops and the blocks run amok with armed gangsters. It adds a nice feel that is muchly needed in a game like this. 3.75 out of 5

      Playability: Essentially a cross between an RTS and an RPG (in much the same vein as Warcraft III), Gangland propels you from the rank of lowly lackey to mob boss. At its heart this is done through squad based RTS tactical shooting, as your band of thugs runs into other bands of thugs, takes cover, and shoots it out. This will happen randomly as you progress, semi-randomly if you stray into rival territory, or en route to other, more important missions objectives. These missions, and their effects, often push the RPG elements and as you progress you will gain more muscle, find business to extort or control, accumulate wealth, and start a family (an option very reminiscent of The Sims). In scope it's a wonderful showing for the genre, and you will definitely get into the Mafioso-mood as you build your own little syndicate from the ground up.
         Unfortunately, though the scope is about perfect, the execution is often lacking. The gun fights, designed to be fast and furious, are simply too daunting and compromised by some down right awful camera controls, and so you'll loose missions more often because you can't react to the situation fast enough than you will to actually being outgunned or outclassed. This could have been alleviated through an in game pause, but sadly one isn't included. Worse yet, the missions, which are long and harrowing, lack an in game save…so the combination of the three means you'll end up replaying mission after mission in impotent frustration.
          Further complicating the game is the uneven pacing the story mode takes. Starting as a thug, you'll spend way too long with little more to do than engage in the often-frustrating firefights offered. The good stuff, running your own business, extorting, creating an empire, doesn't come until much, much later…too late to keep your interest peaked in the game as a whole. Fortunately, however, a quick action mode does quite a bit to give you a break from the painfully slow campaign progression. 3.5 out of 5

      Story and Drama: Based around as classic a mob story as they get, Gangland tells the story of Mario, the painful epitome of Italian stereotyping, who must avenge the death of his father at the hands of his power hungry brothers. To do this he sets out for America and to build his own criminal empire. It's fun, and though not particularly memorable, it certainly shines when compared to much of what other RTS offer. 3.5 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Up to 8 players can join with you to slug it out in a very entertaining vie for control of Paradise City, which is a much needed distraction from some of the frustrations of single player play. Now, the good news is that with the players all equally hindered by the camera and control limitations so the gameplay stays much more even. The bad news is that there seems to be some coding issues and lag is definitely a factor, even on a LAN. Still, it's a good showing and one that had us entertained. 3.75 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, Gangland is a great concept muddied by mediocre execution in too many critical ways. The good news, however, is that Whiptail is being very aggressive with their patching so many of these issues are expected to be resolved in the not too distant future.

      The Good: Great premise, fun story, killer levels.

      The Bad: Horrible camera, no pause or save, and difficult combat means you'll spend a lot of time being frustrated.

      The Overall Ugly: If the patches fix the problems this is definitely one to consider…but wait for that day.

      What it's Worth: 20 bucks.

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