Gangstar: Miami Vindication, Gameloft’s much-anticipated follow-up to the first true open-world GTA-style title to hit the iDevice, is finally available from the app store. A sequel in every sense, Gangstar 2 features the same name and style branding while introducing new characters, new missions, new vehicles, and a new storyline in which to continue your sociopathic criminal fantasies.
Gangstar:Miami Vindication Pros:
- Terrific crime simulation experience with huge map
- Great control options
- Varied and upbeat soundtrack
- Tons of new characters, locations, vehicles, weapons, missions
- Bunch of achievements
Gangstar:Miami Vindication Cons:
- Pop-in graphics and other glitches are annoying
- Foul language feels a bit unnecessary
Gangstar 2 sees our main character traversing Miami in a desperate attempt to find his missing brother. To get the information that you need, you’ll need to speak with a cast of nefarious characters and complete the missions into which you are enlisted. With something in the neighborhood of 75 missions, there is plenty of gameplay to keep you busy. You can also take on various side missions by hopping in an ambulance, police cruiser, or delivery truck. And for those of you with a nomadic calling, you can feel free to dismiss all of the aforementioned and just drive around the sizeable world, kicking butt and taking names to your heart’s content.
One of the more exciting additions to this version of Gangstar is the new vehicle types, namely motorcycles, boats, jet skis, and helicopters. These rides, as well as the plethora of cars you’ll encounter, handled very well and allow you to perform some fun maneuvers. The motorcycle, for instance, can perform wheelies and stoppies with ease, and we actually hit something at one point that propelled us way into the air, resulting in a heart-pounding spinout landing. Very cool stuff!
All of the expected gameplay elements that we know and love are back in this version. Missions will see you getting in good with gang members, blowing away rivals, sniping targets, chasing vehicles, racing foes, escorting important people, and generally just trying to stay alive. Of course, your activities won’t go unnoticed, so be sure to avoid the cops, or try to flip them to save your own bacon. An impressive array of weaponry is also at your fingertips, making you one dangerous dude. The explorable map is even bigger than before, infusing the essence of Miami life into the exciting crime series. You’ll be able to take your talents through Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, the Swamps, and various other notable areas.
Graphically, the retina display support gives a very clean and clear look to the game, which really replicates the 3D feel of the GTA franchise well, especially given that the game is being played on a handheld device. Of course, there are the usual graphical glitches that occur from time to time (why is that guy twitching so much?), the pop-in is as distracting as ever, and the character models a still a bit boxy and bulky, but the experience overshadows these expected shortcomings. The city map is enormous and there are new enhancements to enjoy and pitfalls to avoid. In fact, within our first 20 seconds of play, we somehow found ourselves in the bottom of a swimming pool… in our car. Note to self: Try to avoid water in the future… unless you’d like to take a swim, which is a new ability that we’ve gained since the first iteration. The city looks terrific and, with the added day/night lighting effects, you get a good sense of the progression of time. There was very little stuttering on the 4th gen iPod Touch, so we were happy with that.
The soundtrack includes a number of great tracks to listen to as you cruise around, and changing a station is as simple as swiping across the car stereo face. Sound effects are good, and the voice acting is significantly improved. There’s nothing ground-breaking in the audio realm, but it does appear that Gameloft is making a concerted effort to improve this aspect of their games. While foul language (both written and spoken) features a lot in the game, we found it distracting and a bit unnecessary. It may be a personal opinion, but we would rather see more creativity go into handling this aspect of the game without making it so prevalent.
Controls utilize both touch and accelerometer, with three options for steering (accelerometer, slider, and wheel). Accelerator and brake controls are in the bottom corners of the screen. Context buttons for entering/exiting cars, attacking with weapons, and more appear in the lower right portion of the screen when applicable. Targeting enemies is accomplished by tapping on the person you want to harm. You can even move while shooting now, which frees you up for different attack styles. When on foot, a virtual pad appears in the lower left side, and your view is adjusted by swiping up, down, left, or right on the screen. For the most part, we were very happy with how Gangstar played and found it to be a highly immersive experience.
Replay value is great, with so much to do and see that you can spend hours upon hours losing yourself in the city and your newfound insidious lifestyle. There are also tons of achievements to earn based on your lifetime statistics. At $6.99, Gameloft hits the sweet spot, making this must-have 5-Dimple title an affordable value in addition to a tremendously enjoyable game.
Gangstar:Miami Vindication Review,