All good things must either find a way to reinvent themselves or come to an end. Unfortunately, after spending some serious time with Gangstar New Orleans, the sixth and most recent installment of Gameloftâ€™s ever-popular series of open world action-adventure games for mobile, itâ€™s hard not to wonder whether Gangstar has jumped the shark.
Gangstar New Orleans isnâ€™t a terrible game. Itâ€™s an enjoyable enough experience that will likely keep fans of the series and newcomers who are intrigued by the gameâ€™s Grand Theft Auto-style look and feel. Itâ€™s a chance to let loose from the expectations of modern society for a bit and, as the name of the series suggests, play the role of the big bad gangster taking over turf and driving way too fast on city streets. For all intents and purposes, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
For a lot of players, this will be enough. However, for those familiar with the series previous entries itâ€™s hard to shake the feeling that this open world is a little claustrophobic. With mission suggestions at the ready, thereâ€™s not the same need to immerse yourself in the cityâ€™s streets searching for your next task, taking your time along the way. These suggestions can make you feel a little boxed into the gameâ€™s suggested narrative, which isnâ€™t as smooth as in previous Gangstar games.
When compared with Gangstar Rio: City of Saints in particular, the missions themselves feel a bit stale as do the combat mechanics. Drive from point A to point B without getting arrested, take out a few guys here and there. As much as the game is about turf control, for all of the cutaway scenes, there isnâ€™t a lot of explanation as to how all of this makes a difference within the larger narrative. In terms of mechanics, a lot has changed in the mobile shooter world since Gangstar Rio. Thereâ€™s a lot that can be learned from how other games like Modern Strike Online have dealt with the aim/success rate issue that still plagues gun-based games.
With the left and right turn options at the bottom of the screen, the driving controls inherited from Gangstar Vegas feel a little more natural than early series entries, though why there hasnâ€™t been an attempt to bring more precise driving controls in sync with the walk around joystick is worth thinking about.
One thing that Gangstar Rio does really well is trying to get reflect the cityâ€™s unique history and culture. For a city of 1.2 million people, New Orleans has always punched well above its weight culturally and thereâ€™s perhaps no city with a more engaging mythology. The cityâ€™s French roots are front and center (your best friend in the game is Alain â€“ not Allan) as is the lasting legacy of the southern slave trade in the form of voodoo priestesses roaming the town. The cityâ€™s distinct neighborhoods are also well represented and youâ€™ll find the French Quarter pretty well preserved.
While the graphics on offer in Gangstar New Orleans have been criticized, it does seem like a worthwhile trade-off for how well the game performs on older mobile devices. Given the scale of the game, this just wouldnâ€™t be possible with richer graphics and those who arenâ€™t on latest-gen devices should be grateful for the decision at a time when some of the cooler games are falling out of reach.
Gangstar New Orleans is free-to-play on both iOS and Android. Like all free-to-play games in this general genre, there are oodles of in-app purchases on offer that can help you progress faster and give you something to brag about to other players through the gameâ€™s world chat option (which feels more than a little outdated in 2017). Some of the purchases come with a hefty price tag so youâ€™ll probably want to avoid browsing the store while exhausted.
At least with this one you probably wonâ€™t have to worry about the little folks in your life racking up big bills â€“ Gangstar New Orleans is very muchÂ for adults only.