In the old days of video games the formula was very simple. You play the part of a good guy and it is your mission to defeat all of the bad guys. You had to shoot them out of the sky, jump on their head or eat them. As games progressed, the graphics and the game concepts got better and more original but the formula remained the same, good guys kill bad guys. Then along came a game called Grand Theft Auto. While this game did not boast great graphics or original gameplay the formula was reversed and that was the games main appeal. You could now play the part of a bad guy and do all of the illegal things that you were not allowed to do in other games (or in real life for that matter). Shooting cops, blowing up buildings, stealing cars and doing drugs was not only allowed, but was necessary.
Now the inevitable sequel has been released and while the graphics and gameplay still remain primitive and unoriginal, the developers do not seem to care. The appeal lies not in pretty landscapes, exciting gameplay or original concepts but rather in the idea that you are a gang member doing all that is illegal. And there is definitely something appealing about a game that has these kind of ghastly objectives.
Let's start with what is different in this installment. First of all the layout of the cities is a bit more focused. Each city is split up amongst the separate gangs and each gang will want your services. You can choose to devote your time to one gang almost exclusively or split your loyalty between the three. The way that you accomplish this is by completing tasks given to you by a specific gang. For example, on gang may want you to steal a car, arm it, and blow it up in an opposing gang's garage. Shoot a few of the gang member along the way to gain big loyalty points. Of course the gang that you blow up will be really pissed off so you have to do a job for them to get back in their favor and so on.
Another difference, which raises the bar of allowable violence in video games, is the Frenzy. These are little mini-missions in each level that are basically devoted to killing as many people as you can in a certain amount of time. Totally senseless, totally pointless violence. The Frenzies involve so much violence in fact that I wonder how this game ever came onto the market with a Teen rating. There are also hidden pick-ups and special weapons to be found so a player will never be hard pressed to be armed with something. If finding a gun is to difficult just car jack an ice cream truck and run over a bunch of people.
The main problem with the game is a result from its top-down view. There is only so much the game can do with that kind of set-up. Even though it tries to throw a bunch of different missions and tasks into each level it still suffers from being repetitive. After playing through one level I wondered why I should continue to play. Nothing new is added and the missions are all pretty much the same. Steal this, go here, blow this up, shoot someone. Although each gang has their own personalities and missions, they all pretty much blend together after a while.
All said and done the game rests on a cool concept of gang warfare but lacks in gameplay, graphics, and excitement. The most innovative and shocking thing about the game it the script. I mean what other game offers the mission of carjacking a limo full of drugs and distributing them to all of the dealers on the street while saying, "Faster the people need more blow!" Basically if you liked the first one you will really like this version. If you have never played any of the GTA games then I think you should check this out. It is after all the first gang sim.
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