Are you over 18? Do you like violence? Do you like British gangster movies such as Snatch and Layer Cake? Do you like profanity and lots of it? Do you have a PSP? All yes, so far? Good. Did you like The Getaway or its sequel? No? Then stop reading right now. Go read about another game. Go buy it. Go enjoy it. You will find nothing to like here.
If you happened to like The Getaway and its sequel, then you might want to keep reading. Despite being nothing more than loosely linked to The Getaway (Gangs of London was even programmed by another developer), Games of London is the PSP version of the game. At least it is in the same way the Dynasty Warriors games are cut down for the PSP.
Gangs of London shares a lot in common with The Getaway: the large sprawling recreation of London is once again present, and this time there is a Free Roam mode that will let you explore certain areas at your leisure. GTA drones should be pleased. But for those more interested in what were some of The Getaway’s more redeeming features – its story and its portrayal of the British underworld – you’re likely to enjoy what you find here.
It’s slightly more comic in form, oddly, making it feel less British. It’s also accompanied by the most awful voice acting you’re ever going to hear in your life. But it includes five different stories, one for each of the rival gangs (each from a different ethnicity), so there’s lots of content there. It’s just too bad the gameplay really, really sucks.
It doesn’t really suck by design, because this gameplay was achieved with some success on the PS2 in The Getaway. Everything here works more or less the same, so you’ll know what to expect. There are some great additions too, like being able to order your gang around or to switch to any given member at a time.
The reason Gangs of London’s gameplay sucks is because it controls like an absolute dog. Remember in Doom how you had to hold down ‘Alt’ if you wanted to strafe? That sucked, didn’t it? Well that control mechanism shows its ugly face once more in Gangs of London. And to be honest, that is the major downfall with the game. There are lots of action sequences that see characters roaming down halls killing everything in sight, but the control is so sloppy that you end up running around like a drugged-up moron, getting shot by everything in sight.
Additionally, the AI is stupid. Like, really, really stupid. So it becomes a case of you running around looking like you don’t know your ass from your elbow, and everyone else running around like headless chickens wondering how they keep missing. It means it’s really easy to die, and there are no checkpoints in the levels. It’s so ridiculously frustrating that you’ll end up realizing that it’s not really worth your time. That’s when you’ll move on to the minigames.
Ah yes, the minigames; if Gangs of London were at a budget price, the minigames might justify the purchase alone. For starters, there’s this turn-based strategy game where you compete for control of London. It’s basically Risk, but with gangs and London. Cor’ Blimey! There’s also ‘The Pub’, which has versions of pool (both American and British versions) and darts, both of which are better than they have any right being. There’s also ‘Ye Olde Arcade’ that has a version of Snake on it.
It’s sad when the minigames are the only redeeming feature about a game. Games like Super Monkey Ball realize that minigames can make a good game great, but that’s not the case with Gangs of London. Instead, it’s a case of minigames saving this from being doomed to the realms of abysmal. It’s not that Gangs of London is lacking in terms of presentation, graphics, story, sound (except for the voice acting), or any of the technical areas of design. In fact, if the control was better, it’d probably be a lot of fun. But the control isn’t better and Gangs of London is about as much fun as pulling teeth.
Unless you’re a diehard fan of The Getaway or Asian/Russian/Pakistani/cockney/Yardy gangsters, you’d be better off leaving this one alone. If you really, really need to buy this, don’t say you haven’t been warned. At least you’ll have the minigames to ease the pain.