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Urban Crime is Gameloft’s latest freemium experiment, this time focusing on the same kind of gameplay as their Gangstar series of Grand Theft Auto emulations. I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one. This is probably the worst game Gameloft has ever put out. It’s full of bugs and glitches and looks like it was thrown together in a weekend. It completely misses everything that make open world sandbox games fun in the first place, and all in all it just feels exceedingly lazy. Even the title is one of the plainest crime-related titles I’ve seen.
So the game drops you into the basic tutorial which teaches you how to fight, shoot, drive, etc. The controls are mostly well done, except the driving controls are rather difficult and touchy, whether you use the stick, wheel, or tilt options. The gameplay is essentially the same as Gangstar. After the tutorial, you’re finally let loose upon the world. You can fast travel to missions using the mini-map, which is a nice touch, but there is no real plot or story and the mission structures are very repetitive and uninteresting. I was also forced to abort several missions due to random bugs, like a dead crime boss not registering as dead.
As you complete missions, you’ll level up and collect diamonds and cash, which are of course used to buy new weapons and ammo. Being a freemium game, you’ll need to get to a certain level before you can unlock any given weapon. This game commits some sins that just completely destroy the essence of open world games, namely the freedom to do whatever you want. You can’t even steal every vehicle. You have to be a certain level before most vehicles are even unlocked for stealing, unless, of course, you want to use in-app purchases to speed things along.
The graphics are very dated and buggy. This is because this is literally the same map as Gangstar: Miami Vindication. They’ve essentially taken that game and slapped a new user interface and freemium system on it. The radio stations aim to be satirical like in Grand Theft Auto, which is a plus, and you can always listen to your own music while driving. Maybe I’m being too harsh on this game. It is completely free after-all, and you can easily jump in and do a few quick missions whenever you want. But why would you want to? Even as far as free games go, there are better options, but anyone who wants Grand Theft Auto on their iPhone can actually have it now. Go get that if you can, and just avoid this altogether.