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Gang$tar West Coast Hustle Review

Gameloft has decided to toss it’s proverbial hat into the “GTA” iPhone clone business and while we have seen limited success with games like Payback, and Car Jack Streets all great games but just missing that GTA feel I can officially tell you now Gang$tar West Coast Hustle is the definitive iPhone and iTouch GTA clone&#8230-& far.

Before I begin Id like to say for those who are familiar with The Grand Theft Auto series on consoles and other handhelds, that there is no true GTA replacement for progressive storyline depth, or sheer alternative gameplay content on the iPhone. So expecting any handheld game to match up with those versions is ridiculous.

However Gameloft has stepped up and has laid their “cojenes” on the table for everyone to see in this upgraded and enhanced port of an earlier java based version of the game. Without any doubt I would say the result is an overall success and is almost exactly what you would expect from GTA: Lite

The story starts with you and your buddy pulling off a bank job things get hot so you head to LA looking for some cover only to find wind up knuckle deep in the L.A. gang scene.

The Game consists of 50 core missions throughout 6 chapters. The missions are usually able to be completed within 4-5 minutes each. The game also includes a bunch of side-quest mini missions like Delivery man, Taxi Driver, Police missions, and Ambulance runs are included and provide a great alternative to the main storyline.

Toss in a full set of unlockable achievements, full gameplay statistics, ingame and itunes playlist music, language selections and customizable control schemes and your looking at a very deep and complete game with loads of re-playability.

One of the biggest things you will notice about Gang$tars is that the entire game is done in a true 3D environment. Buildings, walls, and other objects are rendered in 3D as well giving you the true GTA look. Gone is the top down 3/4 ISO perspective of other clones.

The screen is laid out in a very orderly fashion and nothing obstructs your view. You have a mini-map, life bar, weapon selector and your movement controls all displayed at once, and none of these get in the way of gameplay.

As far as controls go there you have two different sets of control options. One for walking and one for driving. It should be noted that while you can not modify the walking configuration there are three different settings for driving. For this review I have chosen to leave the default controls as I feel these offer the best controls for the game anyway.

As you walk around the city you use a virtual analog stick on the left and you change your point of view on the screen by sliding your right thumb across the screen. Up, down, Left and right.

You will quickly notice the game is a bit less populated than other games of the same genre, there’s less people and cars roaming the streets giving you the feeling that somehow you missed the evacuation notice.

Characters models and outfits tend to repeat as well, but given the graphical prowess of the game I can’t knock them too much for this one. It would have been great if we all had iPhones and iTouches as powerful as the 3GS and could experience a more robust edition of the engine. That said the game still looks great and has a real console feel to it. It reminds me alot of Vice City graphically.

Navigating by vehicle was a much better experience than I original imagined. You have a gas and brake pedal on either side of the screen. All turning is done via tilting the iDevice similar to the controls found in Real Racing.

Within a few minutes I was able to speed through turns without hitting inanimate objects, people however weren’t so lucky.

The storyline is done well and includes progressive missions structures as well as hand off missions similar to GTA. You will find plenty of choices for mission types to choose from ranging from street racing, sneaking missions, Drive-by’s, and good old fist to the mouth missions in the main storyline.

There are plenty of non-mission objectives in the game as well. Just jump into a Police car, Ambulance, Delivery vehicle or Taxi and press the CB icon to get started. There are also some hidden ramps, and object scattered throughout the game for those times when you just want to drive around or improve your stats.

One area of the game that i feel was a bit of a letdown however was the AI. For most of the game the AI or should I say lack of AI was quite apparent. Enemies tend to just fire and not look for any kind of cover, even just running right for you. granted this is a portable game but if there is no challenge than whats the point? having said that there are some missions that you will end up repeating do to difficultly level, but by and large the AI is not one of the stronger aspect of the game.

Collision detection is another area that needs to be addressed. While I was thankful that driving at high speeds I could take a corner at 60 and pas through light posts without any problems, there are numerous occasions where driving around I would hit smaller less obtrusive objects than a light post only to have my vehicle come to a screeching halt.

The Wanted levels were also also a bit of a disappointment. I noticed no game changing difficulty from maxing out my wanted levels by killing massive amounts of people and vehicles. I was able to unlock the serial killer achievement (As if that’s a real achievement anyone would want to be labeled with!). Sure a few more cop cars roamed around but i was able to easily drive past them repair my vehicle and reduce my wanted level without getting busted.

Speaking of reducing your wanted levels the game consists of a Services Menu which can be accessed via the Map screen. here you can buy down your wanted level using the corrupt cops option if you have the cash.

If you in a jam and need a ride you can also order one up right away using the Car Rental option in the services menu as well, in fact you almost never need to go to any specific location on the map as you can just purchase most things right from the in game services menu once unlocked.

After you purchase and equip your weapon locking onto your target is easy. Simply tap on the vehicle or person you want to focus fire on and begin to shoot or punch. While locked on you can freely move about. Tapping once again will unlock your focused attack.

The audio potion of the game is a major success. Multiple radio stations, and the ability to play your own play-lists with great in game sound effects makes the audio side of the game a major plus.

I spoke earlier about the graphics, which is the games strongest aspect in some detail and sure there are some inconsistency that can be spotted. Sure there are some draw in that can be noticed, but what you get with a full 3D world in trade off is well worth it to me.

I’m absolutely loving the game, even with it’s flaws like I said before it has everything a GTA fan would logically expect from an iPhone clone, and the ridiculous low entry point of $6.99 is a steal for anyone looking for their GTA fix on the go. It isn’t perfect, but it’s the closest attempt so far and I can’t wait to see how much more this engine can be pushed in future titles or sequels.

Positives: 3D gameplay, Excellent Driving Controls, GTA feel, Audio and Visual

Negatives: AI issues, Collision detection at times, Wanted levels


11 Replies to “Gang$tar West Coast Hustle Review”

  1. Stewie

    What an outstanding game! This is the kind of thing that you buy an iDevice for. Terrific graphics, smooth gameplay, a massive city to explore. Gameloft has outdone themselves!

  2. themendoz

    I still can’t believe the iphone is capable of this. As you said, it might not be perfect but the amount of quality we get for 6.99 is unbelievable.

  3. justin

    this is the best game on the iphone hands down

  4. greenhornet9

    this seems like a pretty awesome game. The graphics are really nice and since driving controls were a major turnoff for me in other GTA clones, its nice that they are done well for this game. But, for me at least, driving around the city and killing people is only fun for so long. Its a good thing to come back to, but i dont see myself playing this for long periods of time. Seems like a good enough game though. Nice review.

  5. roostersully

    If only there were zombies…

  6. Glenn

    Well Zombie Boy Bob is traveling this week so were short Zombie fanboys!

  7. Kevin Stauss

    Looks like a pretty cool game. Great review.

  8. Seishu

    After trying both Payback and Car Jack Streets, I’ve been itching to play a third person GTA clone. While Gangstar has it issues, it sure is a lot of fun running around causing trouble and what not.

  9. Mr. Charley

    This game seems to be getting glowing reviews everywhere I look, despite those mentioned flaws, which doesn’t seem to make anyone not recommend it….

    I’m surprised this was released at the $6.99 and not $9.99 because I’m pretty sure they would have gotten just as many sales….but hey, what do I know….

  10. Glenn

    Congrats to Mr. Charley he has been chosen as the winner of the free ten dollar appstore giftcard this week! How do you win? Just post some comments in the articles and you could win!

  11. JCman7

    I have never played any game like GTA so I am a little hesitate but now would be the time to try. It sounds like a lot of fun and for the price seems to be a steal.