It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. Instead of just listening, make this sentence from the Dark Knight happen in Gangstar New Orleans OpenWorld.
What an entrance! All the way from the slow motion intro to your first robbery and car theft to saving your friend and creating a character while you at it. Yeah, have I mentioned you get to deal with five bad guys just by simply throwing a hand grenade? Amazing. Very good first impression. This is how you make a player want to stay. Then, not even ten minutes into the game, you build your own mansion, and are ready to retake the underground scene of New Orleans. Somehow, all the kingpins in the city are busted, and the position of the mafia boss is now available again. This town deserves a better class of criminals, and will you be the one to grant it that?
Since the crime system in New Orleans is shaken up, you have the chance to retain your glory from the old times. You start by rescuing your former gang members in order to Start an Awesome Gang. Your friend Alain Boudreaux, who guides you through the story by offering you contracts and missions. Your racing promoter and then your chemist, E-man. When you have gathered them up, you’ll start reclaiming quarts of the town. Jason Duke is competing for the same position. He’s a notorious gangster who has his goons spread all around the city. So it’s your job to take them down one by one, and restore your authority over those blocks, to reach and confront Duke. You’ll start with the French Quarter and the guy who they call The Hammer. After that, it gets weirder and weirder. I mean Zombie and Voodoo weirder. No more spoilers!
It may feel a lot similar to GTA titles, and it clearly was inspired by those, but there are some significant innovations which make this title safe from calling it a copycat. You are presented with a minimap with various missions, side quests and events to complete. You can progress in the story, or raise your reputation by doing side missions. There you can practice some shooting in missions which require you to kill someone, or to protect something or someone valuable. Then there are stealth missions featuring a more silent approach. Objectives in these are usually to follow someone or to gain a piece of valuable and sensitive information. Then you can indulge in dangerous and crazy races or driving missions. In these you’ll have to beat a certain time or opponent, or to bring a package to a location while being obstructed by a raging police caravan.
Most of the missions are run and gun, but when facing multiple enemies, it’s better to take cover. You can do that behind almost everything, and then navigate your camera in order to aim and shoot. Thugs and security guys will usually rush towards you, but it’s in your best interest to wait for them to reload their ammo and catch them off guard. When come face to face with some of the more difficult and intelligent nemesis, the best thing you can do is take cover and reach for the hand grenade and finish them off quickly, before they get you. If you happen to be low on health, just use a health pack right next to your grenades in the interface.
Free roam and mansion
You can always simply free roam the great city. There, you’ll find extra rewards, like high value targets, usually a guy dressed in a funny costume (somehow it reminds me of treasure goblins in Diablo III) which you need to track down and kill. When you harm them, they’ll start running really fast. You can hijack cars and shoot and beat up people for fun, too. If you cause too much of a commotion while doing any of that, you’ll provoke the police and end up arrested if they get near you in a chase. The wanted system is almost the same like the one in GTA. No worries, simply pay 200 in cash, or watch an ad and you are free to go.
When you get tired of all the driving and/or the shooting (it can be done simultaneously) you can always fall back to your mansion. There is a lot of options to choose from, and that segment of the game alone can occupy you for hours. A whole island at your disposal. You can build and upgrade your mansion, build a car garage, heliodrom, cocktail bar, swimming pool, a dock, and so much more. Manage your inventory, including an arsenal of all kinds of weapons and armor and other neat gadgets. Of course, tune your rides, and make them appear different by twitching and playing with the cosmetic options.
Oh boy does this game look and feel amazing. First the story. The writer(s) did their best to make a well known and already seen story so diverse and fresh. Using corny and campy humor to actually make a self-parody isn’t always a way to go, but in this one it succeeded masterfully. The catch phrases, police and pedestrian random comments, the dialogue itself – it’s all intentionally simple and over the top at the same time! Like the game knows it’s dealing with an already told story, so it’s mocking the archetypes, cliché situations and plot twists. And it’s all very subtle and classy at the same time.
The visuals are stunning. It’s so refreshing to see a cartoonish style applied to this kind of a game – that emphasizes its narrative style even more. But it’s not too goofy, everything is so stylized like Guy Ritchie was involved: silly, yet serious. No mickeymousing or funny faces and effects. The blood and the gunshots are real. Explosions and rough words too. But the animation and visual approach are constantly reminding us that this is only a game after all. Music is a bit retro and a bit too simple and repetitive, but you can hear all the greatest hits from the radio if you end up in a car, so that’s a plus! All in all, great job.
Control system and performance
It sometimes can be very clumsy, just because the game has so much to offer. Luckily, the developers really did try hard to make it simple as possible. The same can be said about the performance. This game is huge. Its world is enormous. And everything you can explore looks so good, right? I’ve mentioned that before. So, how does it manage to run so smooth? Its loading is quite progressive, hence there are not so many loading screens in the game. Of course, there are a few hiccups and bugs here and there, and the cover system sometimes works against you, but you can easily turn a blind eye on that one. For such a rich and beefy game, it’s not so much of a big deal. And all of it wrapped up in less than one gigabyte. Now that’s an offer I cannot refuse.
On your left is the virtual analog which you use to move. In order to move faster just push it further away from the center. On your right are the run, shoot and interact buttons. So if you want to move really fast, just simply hold the run button while navigating. Aiming is quite interesting. You can aim manually, by rotating the camera, which you do with your other finger, anywhere on screen. But, if you are having trouble in difficult situations, you can try and rely on your auto aim. To jump over walls and fences, just run into it and press the run button again. To steal a car or to interact with other objects and people, use the interact button on your left. Reloading of the weapons is automatic, and switching is done by sliding your finger over the weapon icon in the right upper corner.
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