Gangstar Vegas Review

By , on June 13, 2013
Last modified 9 years, 7 months ago

Gangstar Vegas - Mafia action
  • Publisher: Gameloft
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: 7 Jun, 2013
  • Size: 2.4 GB
  • Price: FREE!
Download on the AppStore
2 out of 5


  • Decent visuals.
  • A healthy number of missions.
  • Larger map.


  • Poor controls.
  • Dull and buggy combat.
  • Derivative, uninspired plot.
  • Lazy writing and borderline offensive stereotyping.


With its awkward controls, buggy combat, and cardboard characters, Gangstar Vegas is all glitter and no gold. 

  • Full Review
  • App Store Info

Gangstar Vegas is a textbook example of generation loss. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it describes the loss of quality that occurs when something is copied. 

In the case of the Gangstar franchise, the source material is clearly Grand Theft Auto. For Gangstar Vegas, Gameloft has transplanted the shooting, mugging, and carjacking action of its GTA wanabee franchise to Nevada's infamous Vegas Strip. This is presumably in an effort to inject some colour and fun into the series previously grimy and po-faced universe. The result is a game that is suitably gaudy and ambitious in scope. However, it's hamstrung by derivative content, vacuous characters, and controls which simply aren't up to the task.

The storyline is as generic as they come. You play as Jason, an ethically flexible boxer who gets in deep with some unscrupulous types when he fails to throw a fight. Rescued by criminal duo Karen and Vera, you find yourself attempting to stay alive by diving deeper into the criminal underworld. Along the way, you are free to indulge in all the gangbanging, drive-bys, car-jacking, street races, and wanton destruction you see fit.

All of which would be grand if it wasn't so awkward to control. Moving Jason around the city is a constant headache. The virtual stick is unreliable and twitchy, making even the most basic movement commands difficult. Combine this lack of accuracy with a sprint button which doubles as the jump command, you'll find yourself accidentally leaping off of walkways and plummeting to the ground at the most inopportune moments.

Melee combat fares no better. The bare bones never-stop-punching system is frequently undercut by an erratic lock-on and buggy enemies. Shooting is functional, but, thanks to the lock-on and cover systems, large scale shootouts are ultimately exercises in patience rather than skill. The vehicle handling is marginally better, but still oddly stilted, with even the least powerful of vehicles sliding wildly at relatively low speeds.

To its credit, Gangstar Vegas isn't short of missions or customisation options. Weapons, driving skills, and outfits can all be tweaked and upgraded. There's even a pawn shop which lets you trade and sawp items and equipment. You can quick travel to missions via the map screen if you're in a hurry, a feature further expidited by the Quick Play menu.

The problem is, once you get to a mission - most of which consist of chasing or shooting unlikeable D-grade gangster archetypes - you're still faced with another barrage of repetitive combat and ugly stereotypes, all while wrestling with controls which aren't fit for purpose.

Though they weren't available when the Gangstar franchise first hit the App Store, you can now get both GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City for iOS. Our advice: play those games instead. If you're a Gangstar die hard, you might gain some enjoyment from powering though Vegas. But, for our money, this excursion to the Valley isn't worth the road trip.


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