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Gangstar Rio: City of Saints Review
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Gangstar Rio: City of Saints, Gameloft‘s latest iteration in the GTA-inspired series, is now available from the app store. Borrowing a number of features from San Andreas and generally improving upon a decidedly successful formula, Gangstar Rio continues the tradition of profane, violent, sociopathic entertainment on a mobile platform.

Gangstar Rio: City of Saints Pros:

  • Detailed open-world environment
  • Hip-hop soundtrack integrated via vehicle radios
  • Typical Gameloft controls work well
  • Lot of San Andreas features included
  • Gameloft Live! integration for leaderboards and trophies

Gangstar Rio: City of Saints Cons:

  • Frequent pop-ins are distracting
  • Car physics are inconsistent
  • Story is unnecessarily crude and vulgar, goes for shock value

Gangstar Rio takes place in Brazil, offering an expansive map in which to run wild, take on missions, and earn the respect of fellow thugs. The introduction of a leveling system adds some light RPG elements that allow you to improve your street cred through a variety of acts carried out by your character, Angel. He’s an Assassino gang member who desires to leave the thug life behind, which nearly costs him his life. Of course, as with any GTA-style game, you could cast aside all encouragement to follow the storyline and simply run amok. However, the missions do give you some purpose and provide a handful of interesting situations. The requisites are present in spades: you’ll be asked to deliver goods, kill certain individuals, escort others, steal vehicles, etc. Like its California-based cousin, Gangstar Rio now allows you to enter certain buildings, mostly for the purpose of buying weapons, new threads, or a fly ride. You can also take vehicles to a repair garage or refill your health bar with a snooze in a safehouse or a late-night fridge raid.

Given its pedigree, stealing a variety of vehicles is a focal point in the game. This time around, a number of vehicles are controllable by the main character, such as planes, jet skis, tanks, motorcycles, and more. You can pull off wheelies and stoppies with ease and the selection is satisfactory. There are 3 control options when behind the wheel (tilt, slider, and virtual wheel), and brake and accelerator pedals offer a decent sense of being in full command. For additional driving fun, you can look for checkered flags to engage in street races or hop on the CB in special vehicles to take on side missions.

Graphically, Gangstar Rio looks the part, providing a well-detailed world full of roadways, pedestrians, buildings, bodies of water, and the like. There is a disappointing level of pop-in that causes a lot of distraction when driving fast. The physics, at times, are good, and at other times, are laughable. Depending on the situation, you may find yourself breezing through poles like a hot knife through butter and moments later, smash into a small post that stops you dead in your tracks. The overall experience was quite smooth. The soundtrack is piped mostly through your vehicle’s radio, with easily switched stations. You can also play tracks from your music library. Though the voiceovers remain mediocre, the character lip synching is pretty good. A virtual pad controls movements when on foot, and buttons for entering cars, attacking, and sprinting are available for the expected uses. Targeting individuals requires a tap on the person before mashing the attack button. Looking around and aiming are accomplished by on-screen swiping. A mini-map tracks your movements, with icons appearing in notable places and a blue line tracing the most efficient route to your target locale, which is preferable to the old system where the map simply pointed you in the general direction.

Replay value is very good, as you can always find something to do to hold your interest. Gameloft Live! integration provides leaderboards and trophies to earn. There’s a lot to like about the latest Gangstar, with details like day/night cycles helping the mobile games more closely approximate their console brethren. A universal app for $6.99, Gangstar Rio: City of Saints is a solid 4-Dimple offering.

Gangstar Rio: City of Saints Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2011-11-16T02:25:16+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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