You'll never get me, ya dirty coppers!
How does this sound for a plot: You, as a (ahem) business partner of
the Godfather, are given a city to create your empire, build up your own businesses,
and generally wreak havoc with the city's police force. Sound fun? With a concept
this cool, it's too bad that Mob Rule is one offer you can refuse.
walks a different path than most games by combining two genres: Real Time Strategy
and City Simulation. The Simulation part has you buying land to build on, building
structures, and assigning a tenant to live in each building. The tenant can
either make money for you or breed workers for your organization (if there's
only one person in each building, how do they breed?). The Strategy portion
involves creating gangsters to kill people (yours or theirs) and destroy or
capture your opponent's buildings.
First off, the game looks and sounds exactly as it should. All the backgrounds
and settings are done in a mid-30's gangster style, with the buildings looking
like they were ripped straight from the past. From drinking halls to flop houses
to brothels, everything looks perfect. All of your characters are cartoony stereotypes:
the workers are big and dumb, while the gangsters are thin and slick looking.
Even the voices have a hilarious Brooklyn accent (it's cool when you hear the
fixers say "My respects, Godfather").
There are lots of little things that make this game entertaining. For every
person, building, or action, there's a little video that plays in the lower
corner. When you're building a structure, it shows a worker getting hit with
a pipe, and when you look inside an infested building, you see some really creepy
bugs. The multitude of things to manipulate make the gameplay interesting. You
can buy off the police station to give you police protection, buy off other
gangs to get some peace, put dead bodies in front of your enemies buildings
to get the police to harass them, or even send out thugs to kidnap members of
the other team. Fun for the whole (crime) family.
With all these
good things, it's a downright shame that Mob Rule doesn't quite make
the cut. The problem isn't what the designers didn't try, but that the combination
of RTS and Simulation turns into an ugly mess, mixing up the worst aspects of
the two genres.
In a strategy game, you want predictability. You want to know exactly how much
gold it takes to build a dragon and how long it will take to make it. You want
to know that, while you go off to seek more crystals, your temple wont stop
working unless the enemy blows it up.
But in Mob Rule, all of these normally static values are variable. The
amount of money you get from each building depends on the mood of the tenant,
the land value, the number of people who come in, and so on. The rate of worker
production depends on how many children the tenant has had and whether or not
the building is on fire (which happens more often then you'd think). Your tenants
can die behind your back, forcing you to quickly find a replacement of some
sort. In a normal simulation game, all of these things are welcome additions,
adding more depth to the gameplay, but in a RTS game, it's just too much to
think about at one time. I found myself downright confused at several points,
wondering how the heck to get out of my current situation.
There are two more minor things that hurt the quality of Mob Rule. First,
the control system is confusing. It looks sort of like a combination of SimCity
3000 and Starcraft,
but without capturing the simplicity of either. Secondly, you can't start a
game without going into the tutorial first. I know that the average person needs
some practice at the game before they dive in, but I have the right to get completely
confused if I want!
Although the developers tried hard to come up with a high quality game, their
attempt to blend RTS and Sim games just didn't pan out. What we get is an overly
complex and confusing game, with lots of fun little parts. If you have plenty
of patience and a brain that works faster than the speed of concrete shoes falling
off a bridge (or really like the idea of building a crime empire), then
you may like this game. Otherwise, pick either a RTS game or a simulation and
buy that instead.