Gangstar: West Coast Hustle in Review – Hustle out and get it!

Thou who have asked politely and waited patiently, shall receive. Been waiting for an iDevice game reminiscent of the popular console and PC franchise, Grand Theft Auto? Well, my friends, the time has come and your prayers have been answered – Gangstar is now available at the App Store.

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Hmmm...

In the world of Gangstar (set in sunny Los Angeles), you are placed in the shoes of P. Thug (or in my case, M. Thug), a member of Los Locos de la Muerte. Your rival, the Los Matadores gang, is an unruly group with whom you’ve had many ‘confrontations’. These are not the “Timmy spilled hot coffee on Charlie’s new shirt” sort of confrontation either; they are more like, “Charlie trespassed onto Timmy’s basketball court and now Charlie has to pay by getting shot in the skull”. You see, gangs in Gangstar don’t throw tea parties for one another, they shoot first and ask questions later.

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It's going down!

Gangstar is packed with 50 missions which take anywhere from around 5-10 minutes to complete and are as per GTA-style gaming – teem with: kill this, shoot that, blow this up, race him/her then proceed to kill him/her and watch a mini cut scene. The rich 3D environment that is Los Angles is chuck full of life (cars and people). Aside from the regular missions, you can go on optional side-missions by jacking certain vehicles (burger car, ambulance, taxi) and selecting the walkie-talkie when it is ringing. The walkie-talkie is located near the top middle of the screen (only cars with optional side missions will have them), next to the radio.

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SHE'S DA BWOSS!

There are 6 music stations (all unlicensed music) that is sure to please any ear. Whether it be hip-hop or rock, each station has its own commercials and commentary. Some are hilarious and advertise actual locations in the game (such as the burger joint). If you have your own bizarre music taste, or just don’t like the in-game music, then you can access your iTunes playlist through the radio. This nifty feature lets you swipe to change songs (or music stations). Me, the poor sod that I am, has got like 12 MB left on my iPhone; I chose to savor the 300+ apps rather than music. Thus, I will have to contend with the 6 radio stations and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida for an eternity (or until I delete apps/ get a new iPhone).

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Everyday I'm hustlin, everyday I'm hustlin.

To get from Point A to Point B in Gangstar, you can follow the GPS (which is located at the top left portion of the screen). By tapping the GPS, the screen enlarges into a view of the entire map of Los Angeles. Main missions are marked by a house symbol and races are marked by a flag. Races are a great way to earn some fast cash if you’re running low and are quite challenging. You have to follow the blue checkpoints and beat your opponent as well. If you want to take the cheap way out (like me), then you can shoot your opponent’s car until it starts smoking. To target the car, simply tap on it then tap the cross-hair button on the bottom right portion of the screen to shoot. While this isn’t necessarily fair for the opponent, but who really cares about the AI in the first place? Shooting is the most efficient way of passing difficult races.

Home sweet home.

Home sweet home.

Gangstar even has a few stores around the city for you to access: a gun shop, a car shop, and a car repair shop. I was never too fond of the car shop because I rather prefer to steal than to spend my hard-earned money that I acquired through cheating at races. Anyways, you can always purchase guns from the menu, rather than driving to the store (as well as start any missions through the menu- whether it be main missions or races). However, armor is a store-exclusive item. If you’re like me and too lazy to find a store, then you can always adventure around Los Angeles looking for hidden armor vests and medical kits. Another way to burn a hole in your pocket is to bribe (corrupt) cops, when you achieve wanted level. To get to that level? Kill pedestrians by squishing them under your tires and you will nab a police badges on the right side of your screen. There’re 3 ways to lose your wanted level: bribe the cops, lose the cops, or find police badges that are spread through out the map (indicated on your GPS). Picking up one of these badges will automatically drop your wanted level by 1 star.

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Besides all the side missions and main missions, there’s still achievements to keep you occupied. Once the main missions are completed and you’ve completed the campaign, you can still go around Los Angeles to earn the achievements. The replayability value is high in Gangstar and the campaign is fairly long.

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EASTER EGG ALERT!!

The controls work surprisingly well. The default control scheme is to turn using the accelerometer and accelerate/brake using on-screen buttons. However, optional controls such as a steering wheel and slider. Moving P.M. Thug around is accomplished via a virtual analog stick. To target something/someone when strolling or driving, just tap on it/them to expose a cross-hair and then tap again to shoot. While moving with one finger, you can adjust the camera angle with another. To jack a car, just walk up to one and tap the car button (which is just above the cross-hair button). Carjacking is exemplified in all its carjacking-goodness. Your Thug opens the door to a stranger’s car, kindly encourages them them with a few words and finally, throws him/her right out. But be warned, sometimes the person whose car you’ve just stolen will attempt to get it back. So, just do what I do, and back up into them and run them over, leaving them grounded.

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Don't you point no RPG at me, vato!

Nothing is perfect, and neither is Gangstar. My gripes are minimal though. For starters, the only and I mean ONLY way Gangstar would possibly run on my old piece of iPhone hardware junk, was to reboot before each game. If I didn’t do a reboot before launching Gangstar, then the game basically crippled itself. It becomes nearly impossible for me to even move P. Thug without the app freezing on me. What’s weird is that I experience hardly any lag, but the constant freezes are unbearable. Gangstar has never crashed my 1st gen iPhone, but it ain’t exactly stable either. Therefore, I highly advise anyone who has Gangstar or who is considering getting it, to reboot each time you play it. After rebooting, the app runs without freezing, which is why I won’t let an issue such as this hinder the overall rating of the game. One other minor setback is that the draw distance is close, so when you’re speeding down the street, it gets difficult to see what’s in front of you. Since I cheat at races and pay off the cops, however, this minor gripe never truly affected the gameplay and my overall positive experience with the game.

The possibilities in Gangstar are nearly endless. I would hope to see new missions (maybe even a new campaign) added to the game via in-app purchases and some new vehicles and stores which allow you to ‘bling up’ your gangstar (helicopters, motorcycles, clothing stores). Gangstar takes the cake for debuting the first fully 3D game of its type at the App Store – so kudos to Gameloft for accomplishing that. At this point, I could care less if Rockstar ever decided to port over GTA for the iDevice, because Gangstar is all I could have asked for and more.

With that being said, I, Matthew from the East Coast, award Gangstar: West Coast Hustle the gangstalicious award of Kiss It.

kiss

App Summary
Title:Gangstar: West Coast Hustle (v1.03)Developer:Gameloft
Price:$6.99App Size:173 mb
  • 3D environment

  • 50 main missions and extra side missions

  • Listen to your own playlist along with 6 radio stations

  • Achievements

  • Map of entire game with legends

  • Controls

  • Have to reboot each time before playing

  • Draw distance is close

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