Gangsters: Organized Crime

Snap19_1Wiseguy Simulator v1.0.

Gangsters lets you play as a Prohibition-era mob boss, and your Don has just ordered you to take over a new city. Your territory is small, you only run one business, and there are four other Mafiosi in town who don’t have any intention of sharing the city. Your goal is to run the others out – but you can also win by getting yourself elected mayor or by abandoning your mobster background altogether and going straight. First, though, you have to get a foothold in the city.

You do this through two major gameplay phases: A planning phase, during which you review the state of your organization, hire goons, plot your moves and give orders; and the work week, a.k.a. the execution phase, during which you monitor your thugs and lieutenants as they carry out your orders. The interface is daunting, even with a substantial portion of the manual being dedicated to taking you through several tutorial levels. In any case, Gangsters isn’t the easiest strategy game to learn.

Snap34_1But it is open-ended. Tactical and strategic options are as limitless as your imagination. The neighborhoods of the city are full of small businesses; you expand your territory by setting up a “protection” racket and extorting cash from them. As you empire grows, you can buy legitimate businesses and set up illegal ones, such as casinos, speakeasies, and brothels. All the while, you’ve got to watch for street-level police presence, which will interfere in the day-to-day operation of your business. Later on the FBI will investigate. You can hire a lawyer to keep the law off, or an accountant to launder your money.

The game is strongest in the planning phase, where you’re really given a feel of power and control. The execution phase has problems – it runs in the kind of real-time inspired by games like Space Hulk and X-COM Apocalypse, so it’s limiting in the amount of control you have over your thugs. When a violent encounter occurs, any nearby hoods will join in, and often they’ll go at it until the police become involved. You don’t have any effective way to tell your guys to retreat or hide, and the police have nearly limited reinforcements, so your losses add up quickly.

That tends to tarnish the gloss of Gangsters, but it doesn’t rob it of its captivating nature. Although being centered on organized crime, the game tends to focus more on the ‘organized’ part than the violence. It’s a racket and gang warfare simulator who won’t offer much quarter to beginners.

System Requirements: Pentium 166 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95

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