Overall Score 70%
A warning notice before we begin - simGangster contains numerous references to violence, drug abuse and sexual activity. It is not suitable for under-18's. Curiously, swearing appears to be minimal (though gangster-speech is rife)!
There was some discussion here at Bytten over this game. Should we be reviewing a game in which you score points and earn cash by mugging old grannies, smashing up businesses and stealing cars? After some consideration we decided that yes, we should review simGangster - after all, how many other games involve some level of violence and killing?
simGangster is a bizarre game. At first I was expecting something like a lighter version of Grand Theft Auto. Though the theme is the same, they have little else in common. GTA is about action - SG is about strategy and planning. And I can't remember the last time I laughed so much as at the breakdown of each day's events.
First of all, choose a city to play. Each city has its own activities (such as muggin', vandalisin', stealin' cars, burglin' and so on) as well as different levels of starting cash, police activity and so on. More, each city has a time limit of X days, and to unlock the next city you need to score a certain amount by the end of day X. You can, of course, replay any unlocked city as often as you like (and try to beat your score).
Next, you are confronted with a list of activities. Here you can plan your day - you have ten hours (between 1pm and 11pm) to fill with a list of activities. Each has different effects - Muggin', for instance, is a fast way to earn cash, while Chillin' can reduce your wanted level. You need to keep an eye on both your skills and levels when planning your day. I was not aware before this game that criminals keep an agenda for their day's events!
When your day is planned out (keep an eye on the weather and note that different activities work better at different times) you click on "Start Day" to see what happens. The day's events are described in a list of bullet points, often hilarious, and accompanied by sound effects. Symbols beside each point will tell you if your skills/levels go up or down, or if your money changes.
Let's get technical. While simGangster contains no flashy animations or 3D graphics, everything has been laid out nicely. It's not perfect - the main screen looks a little cluttered at first, and some of the message boxes are too small for the text in them! - but it has style. There is a lot of text, which may put off some people. The game is accompanied by "gangster" style music and a range of amusing sound effects.
Though learning how all the activities and your skills/levels interact takes time, the game is easy to get into. A guide to how to play pops up regularly throughout (but can be switched off both before and during a game), as well as Donny's Hints, which give general good advice. You can also get help on each activity.
This is a game that, while it probably won't last and last, you'll keep coming back to - if only for the hilarious text in the day's outcome! simGangster is funny, cheeky and playable - not to mention offensive and most definitely not politically correct. But I'm pleased we can add it to the Bytten archives.
[This review was based on the demo version as no unrestricted version was available to us at the time.]
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