The problem I have with Gangstar: Miami Vindication isn’t that it’s a rip-off of a well known game franchise already available on the platform. There is space for a cheap GTA alternative on the Mac App Store. It’s that Gameloft have put all their effort into putting as many features as possible into Gangstar and forgetting about building a stable and enjoyable foundation for the player. Yes, it’s great that you can fly a helicopter around the city, but when the simple act of navigating your character is frustrating and non-intuitive, then you begin to wonder whether there are some misplaced resources here.
Gangstar: Miami Vindication
Take GTA 1. When Rockstar decided to create a revolutionary sandbox game they didn’t just jump straight to making the world as big and impressive as possible, or introduce tons of new vehicles. They stuck to the bare-bones fundamentals. And in a sandbox game, this involves creating a functioning, believable world that almost has a life of its own. In Gangstar, this ‘Miami’ is barely functioning. There are sufficiently less cars or civilians on the streets as there should be. Yet despite this, cars still manage to get stuck behind lamp posts and signs because of the dumb AI behind the wheel. The pedestrians also have a habit of walking into walls.
The game includes more than 75 missions. Pretty impressive right? Well, the story is pretty sub-standard and very trivial. It does get more interesting nearer the end, but the plot as a whole feels very drawn out and inconsequential. The missions themselves are no different and involve you spending the majority of your time driving to a location. Once you’ve reached your location, if you’re lucky you’ll get to shoot some bad guys, if not you may be forced to take some photos of a criminal gang or follow a car at an incredibly slow pace.
And when I say ‘lucky’, I don’t actually mean this in a positive way, it’s just the better than the alternatives. The combat in Gangstar: Miami Vindication is tedious and over quickly. You just face your opponent, hold the fire button and that’s it. But even this simple task is riddled with complications. Auto aim is a nuisance and normally doesn’t behave the way you want it, hiding behind cover is hard to accomplish and the enemies are ridiculously easy to defeat.
Cops. I know one of the most popular things to do in GTA when you’re bored is rile up a load of police and cause havoc. Good chance of getting the same excitement with this title. The cops in Gangstar are weak and never seem to build up, even when you’re the most wanted man in Miami. Road blocks consist of 2 police cars positioned next to each other in the road. No policemen and ample gap between and either side of the cars. The game even offers badges densely scattered around the map which, if collected, lower your wanted level by one. You get the point.
Comparatively, I don’t have a problem with the graphics. They’re boxy, unrealistic and simple but they do what is required of them; visually represent the world you’re in. Plus, the sound in Miami Vindication is not bad. The radio is very GTA-like and features funny commercials and some likeable tunes and the voice acting is passable.
However, the best thing about Gangstar: Miami Vindication is its glitches. I once flipped my boat 100 meters into the air by running into a pier only to have it come crashing down and getting fully submerged in water (don’t worry, everyone was fine). You can’t go half and hour without coming across a funny glitch or bug and to be honest, this was the only thing bringing me back to the game.
Gameloft are really good at creating games that look good as a still image or on print but in actual motion its flaws become quickly apparent. Gangstar’s transition to the bigger screen only emphasises its flaws which can easily be overlooked on a portable device. The game’s graphics and the novelty of a 3D sandbox game on the iPhone is lost on the Mac, especially when Rockstar has already marked out its territory. Gangstar: Miami Vindication is a perfect example of a game that should have remained on the iPhone where its audience can be more ‘forgiving’.
Price: $2.99 (£2.99)
Description: Gameloft’s Horrendous GTA Clone
Pros: Funny car radio, good music and passable voice acting.
Cons: Glitches, trivial story, repetitive missions, lifeless.