In Chicago 1930, Spellbound Interactive presents a duo of tactical action-adventures through Prohibition-era Mafia mythology. Like the developer's Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive and Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood, this game presents RPG-style missions in a real-time strategy context. Controlling a small squad of five characters, players must devise and execute tactics in a well-paced real-time flow, in order to accomplish a series of interdependent objectives on each level. A new feature in Chicago 1930 lets players set the game in "slow motion," allowing them time to assign precise, complex orders when needed. Players can command the Mob forces, to use violent attacks and gradually take over an entire section of the city, or the FBI agents, whose missions often involve adventure-puzzle solving at the scenes of the crimes.
I know next to nothing about 1930s Chicago, other than it was a time of prohibition and it was harder to get a drink. It was also a time of the mafia, police corruption and FBI agents trying to get their men. So is the basis for Chicago 1930. It's a strategy/puzzle game in which you can choose sides and play as the brave FBI agent (Elliot Ness in all but name) or the local mafia. Depending on who you change the game's focus is different - the FBI are hell bent on cleaning up the city whilst the mafia boys use every trick to make it dirtier. On paper it sounds a rather nice idea and even from the screenshots you think you could be in for a treat. However within minutes I realized there where going to be very few 'treats'...
To cut to the chase, I'm afraid to say that Chicago 1930 has to be one of the worst games of on any of the many formats I have ever played. I started as the FBI and my first task was to solve the gruesome murder of the local DA. You arrive at the apartment and are greeted by one of the local plod. The action pauses - the screen turns green and you get a few words of text on the screen. After reading it a couple of times I realized that this was supposed to be the cop talking. I was asked to follow him to the body. Using the mouse to click where I wanted to go I was soon greeted by another message. Something about two agents in the room called Smith and Smith - now I'm not sure if this was supposed to be funny (it wasn't) and I have no idea who said it. From here on in things just got worse. You can drag the body away and the photographer continues to take pictures of the empty space. The maid has fainted in the kitchen - to wake her you need a first aid kit, and to get the first aid kit you need to find the key that unlocks the door to the bathroom. The whole game just seems too ridiculous and has no logic behind it at all. Why is an Ambulance not called for the maid? Why is the en-suite bathroom locked? Why did the guy who removed the key decide to stand on the balcony? And why didn't one of the testers at Spellbound say something about this?
Things get even worse - the controls are fiddly, moving is about the only thing that is easy to do (by clicking at your destination), everything else is hit and miss. When you pick something up you have no idea what it is or what it's for. You spend ages just trying to walk around the place trying to find the next 'thing' to click on to progress the story. It plays more like an old point and click adventure game than anything else.
As the game progresses your chosen story moves on and spreads across the city - from your start as one character you are soon joined by others who you can direct and use at your leisure - you also have a wide array of weapons become available to you, but none of this helps make the game better.
The game hints at good ideas; the different attitudes the NPCs are supposed to have, and how as an FBI agent you cannot just go around shooting people but must successfully subdue and arrest them. The problem is it just does not pull these ideas off. Combat just becomes a rapid succession of mouse clicks and the arrests are pulled off more by luck than judgment.
Good points? Well the graphics are rather pleasant in a cartoon manner (although most of the characters look the same). Games should be fun to play - they should be challenging and interesting and should reward you for progression. Chicago 1930 does none of this - it takes effort just to want to complete the first level once you realize how silly and illogical the puzzles are.
Welcome to Chicago! Since the introduction of the 1920 prohibition laws that totally forbid the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcohol, this city has become the center of organized crime. Now, all alcohol consumption is controlled by the Mafia, the city is teeming with illicit breweries, bars, nightclubs, casinos and brothels. In 1928, the dreaded Hank O'Neil rules over most of the city but a few areas are still under the control of the authorities. Now another big shot, Don Falcone, even more ambitious, cruel, and ruthless than O'Neil, comes on the scene and tries to take over. A special police unit has been set up to meet this threat and to stop the Mafia at all costs. Their aim is to regain control of the city and to free Chicago from the grip of the underworld.
At this point, open war is declared in the heart of Chicago. Will you be on the side of the Mafia or the police? The choice is yours!
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