Players again take the role of a prohibition era mob boss in this real-time strategy sequel to Hothouse Creations' Gangsters. Gangsters 2: Vendetta is designed to improve upon the original by enhancing the game interface and incorporating a more detailed, involving storyline, all while retaining the basic real-time combination of cunning strategy and ruthless tactics that appeal to fans of the series. More sophisticated character development, a night and day cycle, and numerous new buildings and abilities have been added as well. Players take the role of an up-and-coming crime lord who returns from the war to find that his father has been murdered by a rival gangster. Following the guidance of his mentoring uncle, the young boss strives to build an underworld empire that will empower him to take the revenge he so bitterly seeks.
After several years of waiting, the sequel to the one of the most interesting strategic simulations ever is finally here. I have to admit that I never expected the sequel to be this different from the original, but all changes turned out just great, all from gameplay improvements to the graphic design. People have long been fascinated by gangsters and their frequently short, yet interesting lives. Of course, it is best to enjoy such an experience on your PC, and this is exactly what Gangsters 2 has to offer.
Gangsters 2 contains several game modes. There's the campaign, the multiplayer and tutorial mode. Be sure to complete the tutorial before you start playing the campaign, as it will point out some crucial elements that you could otherwise get to realize too late. When I say too late, I mean that some missions have time limits.
The campaign is the heart of the game and it has rather an interesting plot. It takes place in an imaginary US state called Temperance in the late thirties of the twentieth century. Just the right time for gunfights, smuggling, racketeering, and altogether dealing in crime. The father of the main character, one of local Dons, gets killed in one of the shoot-outs. You assume the role of Joseph Bane, a young gangster who wants to avenge the death of his father and rule Temperance. Joey Bane starts off with pretty limited means, but he is driven by vendetta.
The map of Temperance is crammed with points (cities) that represent your potential targets for spreading your area of influence. The story unravels through chapters and you'll feel as if you were reading a good crime-story. As you advance through missions and complete given objectives, your status will rise and the missions will get more complex and more interesting.
The first thing I got to like about this game is the simple interface, rid of complicated elements that would hinder gameplay. The upper part of the screen contains animations of your gangsters at work, and the left hand side of the screen contains detailed data about your currently selected gangster. This is where you can add bodyguards to your current gangster. This feature seemed pretty interesting: if you have sufficient funds you can hire "muscle" to help your gangsters in fights. And as long as all the bodyguards are alive, your gangster cannot be hurt. Bodyguards' default weapon is the handgun, but if you by any chance happen to have any other weapons in your stash, they are sure to take it. This way, each gangster represents a potential group of mercenaries that will protect your territory. You can set the aggression level of each gangster in order to control his reaction upon encountering an enemy. If his aggression is high, he will immediately start shooting, if it is set to low, he will run away. The bottom of the screen contains your councilor and the newspaper, which holds information about gangsters and specialists for hire (which seems a bit silly, but never mind), latest gossip around town and FBI most-wanted charts. The rest of the gangster commands like guard, patrol, flee, tail, and so on are also situated here. This is about everything you will use in game. This doesn't mean the game is simple, though...
Bane finances his vendetta by dealing in various things, primarily racketeering stores and hotels. When you shift-click a site, you will get complete insight in its business and profit perspectives. Practically each site will give you an hourly profit and the more sites you have, the more money you'll get. Perfect opportunities for making money are sites where you can run an illegal business under a legitimate company; for instance, you take up a hotel, which deals legally and has its own manager, and build a distillery in its basement. You can also control many other structures like a gambling den, brewery, or speakeasy in order to provide sufficient cash for your campaign.
You start each mission in your office where you have all the stats about all people who work for your family, hired geeks and "specialists", incomes and expenses, the territory you cover and the latest gossip. This is where you determine the placement of all your gangsters and specialists. The illegal business I just mentioned cannot run without a specialist that would take care of it. Speakeasy will require a barman, Brewery requires a distiller, etc. The specialists usually have poor combat characteristics, so it would be wise to protect each site that makes a lot of money by hiring extra guards. Guards provide ideal protection for sites on border territories. If not more, they can hold off the attackers while your crack-squad arrives.
Just imagine the following situation: it is raining late at night, and the few streetlights that are working cast a dim light on the surroundings. A car approaches the nearby casino and suddenly stops. Several Tommy guns appear on the side of the car and the guards in front of the casino collapse. The team from the car swiftly runs into the casino to finish the job off, and seconds later disappear into thin air. Sounds like a scene from a movie? Nope, it is just one of many actions you will have a chance to perform in Gangsters 2. Drive-by actions like these are one of the most typical methods to conquer a site. Mission goals are usually along the lines of taking a certain number of sites or assassinating someone. The assassination targets are hard to find, and once you do find them, they are usually tough cookies to break. You should never forget that you are facing far more experienced and frequently better-equipped mobsters than yourself. The boys in blue are also omnipresent. Still, it will be enough to bribe the local sergeant and you won't need a single guard on that territory, as the police will protect you. Another thing about the police that irritated me initially was the fact that a cop appears whenever a fight breaks up, and they practically always start shooting at your boys first. On the other hand, if you tell your boys to retreat towards the police and the cops see them being chased by a gang with shotguns, they will immediately switch to your side. Cops will always tend to shoot at mobsters with high notoriety level or the ones wanted by FBI. Very well conceived and fun to play.
Sound and graphic design - both of these are as good as they could get for a game like this. The soundtrack is dark and moody, and provides a great atmosphere. The useful thing about sound is that you will hear noise typical for a site when scrolling over it, making sites easier to find.
The graphic design is clean and precise in spite of the tiny characters.
The game uses an isometric third-person view and only supports 800x600 resolution. Ingame map has several levels. When you scroll through it, the higher levels will disappear so that you could see what is going on inside buildings and control your men. The visual engine supports day and night changes and weather effects.
Gangsters 2 is a highly addictive game with good design and interesting gameplay. The unusual concept and the unraveling plot will keep you glued to the screen. The game is well balanced and keeps getting more complex as you progress deeper into the underground.
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Gangsters: Organized Crime, Caesar IV, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Age of Empires III, Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive, Heist, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Age of Mythology
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