Crime City forces gamers to be social, somewhat overbearingly, as players build up their personal neighborhoods, ransack "rival hoods," and plunder city streets inspired by New York and other metropolitan areas. While the game doesn't require much thought and strategy, Crime City's 4.7 million monthly average users is a testament to its addictive powers. Crime City starts off with a quick character customization screen filled with several hair, pants and shirt options. You can also choose a randomly created character. From there, Frankie will introduce you to Canal Street where you will get to rob your first store. If you're a New Yorker, a light bulb may go off when you hear Canal Street. There are actually several New York location references in the game, including Ellis Island, home to a digital re-creation of the Statue of Liberty.
Each building and pedestrian in the game can be attacked in some way. If you hold your mouse pointer over a pedestrian it may give you the option to rub out, assassinate, rob, interrogate or defeat the individual. Regardless of what the action is, the end result is always the same. Your character will either beat down, shoot or stab the target – depending on what weapon the action called for. It's a little graphic, but the cheesy sound effects and guttural voice over of your victims are fun to hear.
For buildings you may be eliminating henchmen, cracking open safes, stealing documents or collecting medicine. Once again, regardless of the action, players are simply going up to each building guns blazing without little repercussion outside of the energy cost in performing the action. There's not much strategy involved. You'll click the building or person and then execute the job as long as you have the right weapon or item needed. If you don't have the right item, a pop up screen may appear telling you what item you need to buy. When you level up, the game will also allow you to share money, diamonds and experience points with friends. Typically, you don't see sharing of experience points in social games so this is a nice plus.
Not all weapons can be bought; you will often rely on friends to give you weapons you need to get the job done. The game forces you to announce on your wall that you need a certain object in order to complete a mission. Then, once your friend sees what item you need, he or she can gift it to you. There are several mission items like brass knuckles, ski masks, and steel garrotes that can only be received through gifting or gold bars. You'll get gold bars here and there throughout the game, and can always purchase more for a few US dollars.
This leads into another social element in Crime City. Each player has his or her own neighborhood to build up. Buildings require steel, which may be picked up every eight hours from your still mill or through missions. As you build buildings like a pizza shop, gas station or coffee shop, you will be able to collect money from your businesses. However, building the coffee shop may require paint or building the bank will require a cinder block, drill and paint. These can only be purchased through gold bars or gifting.
While there's not a lot of strategy in this game, there is a lot of clicking. When you beat up a person or rob a storefront, usually you'll be presented with money, diamonds, and other miscellaneous items (including weapons and steel). Instead of automatically receiving these in your inventory, you will actually have to click the item to pick them up. Sometimes with the crowded HUD (head-up display), gamers will miss seeing certain items that blend into the building colors or they may accidentally click one of the menu items while trying to collect their money. This happened a few times where the money overlapped with the map and I was transported to a different location. Poof. Money lost.
Another social aspect in the game is attacking "rival hoods." You can travel to other neighborhoods and rob their storefronts. Gamers can also fight other mafia members. However, this is not as easy as you would think. Unlike Mafia Wars, figuring out if you have the advantage in a one-on-one battle against an actual player character is difficult. You can compare experience points and weapons cache, but simple things like a power meter are not present. If you win, you'll gain Respect Tokens that currently seem to have no viable use.
While there's no real story to mention in Crime City, the game achieves success in "click compulsion." Even though there's no thought required to play, you still won't be able to help yourself from clicking everything in sight to level up from low level lackey to an indispensable member of the Family.
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