Crime-themed games, which let you embrace your inner thug, are all the rage on PCs and consoles, but they rarely make it to the Mac. Perhaps that’s just as well, if Virtual Programming’s tepid Gangland is any indication of what we can expect from such games.
On the surface, Gangland sounds as though it should be fun – assuming that your tastes run toward the sociopathic. The game follows the story of a mafioso, newly arrived from Sicily, who has been sent to apprentice under his Uncle Vincenzo and avenge his brother’s murder. As an up-and-coming hood in Paradise City, you’re allowed to extort, vandalise, terrorise, and generally act like a cretin as you try to make money for the family. Uncle Vincenzo gives you orders, at least in the early stages of the game. These orders range from extorting ammo from a gun dealer to shutting up a stool pigeon.
The game is a mix of role-playing, real-time strategy, and third-person action. Unfortunately, it’s extremely linear; there’s not much variation to the missions you’re given. The real-time strategy element comes into play as you manage resources such as personnel – that is, henchmen – to help with your dirty work. To do that, you’ll need to take over restaurants in the area. The more restaurants you control, the more people you have at your disposal. Want guns and ammo? Strong-arm the guys who run the gun shops.
Sadly, the AI that controls your henchmen is ridiculously underdeveloped. My hired guns waded right into the middle of a gunfight as if nothing was happening, took as much damage as they could manage, and then keeled over dead. Yeah, really helpful.
Gangland’s 3D graphics look OK. You can tweak a variety of graphics options – resolution, level of detail, and more – to improve performance on your machine (the game requires an 800MHz G3 or faster Mac). The game also offers a multiplayer component. However, I couldn’t find a single player online to try this out with.
All of this low-rent Godfather tomfoolery might be tolerable – even enjoyable – if there were a reasonable hint of humour or irony attached to it. But too often this game tips over into the macabre or comes across as just plain stupid. To make matters worse, the voice acting that accompanies it is laughably bad, if not outright offensive to Italian Americans.
Those who are very interested in gangster-themed games may still find something to like about it but, overall, Gangland is nothing more than a competent port of a mediocre game.