Gameloft scored the license to produce a game based on Ridley Scott’s recent film. The film did not lend itself easily to a game so I have to say it was a surprise to see it turned into a game. American Gangster covers the story of real life criminal Frank Lucas and his arch nemesis on the law enforcement side, Richie Roberts. American Gangster plays very much like Grand Theft Auto. It takes place in a living thriving city. It involves plenty of driving. It involves shootouts and more pedestrian exercises like Fedex quests.
In many instances, American Gangster feels constrained by being a mobile game. None of the vehicles are modeled particularly well. A lumbering van is going to go as fast as a coupe so that takes some of the challenge out of the racing sequences. Exploring the city is a moot point. Cops don’t chase after you for wanton city damage. Accumulating cash won’t bring you any side businesses or new toys you can’t find on your own as part of the story missions. On the graphics side, there’s little variation in design for characters in the game. City blocks seem to repeat their design motifs from one segment of the city to another.
As Richie Roberts, you get to take control of any police car without resorting to carjacking. You can also arrest people but other than that, there’s not much change as you’re thrown into same Fedex objectives and firefights. The missions do escalate into a violent climax similar but just as Ridley Scott’s film takes some artistic license with the real life characters, this game takes some artistic license with the film material. Often you feel like you’re going on some pointless sub-quests that do nothing except extend the length of the game. Driving to various points on the map only to get a message that you finished collecting an item with no apparent value to the story is what I would consider pointless.
American Gangster follows the predictable path of films turning into video games. It feels rushed to the market because there were obviously so many avenues where the game could have been expanded but some artificial constraints were placed instead to tie it off.