My apologies for the twenty-four hour delay in this week's review - I was busy last night shooting a short film that makes a David Lynch movie look straightforward. But let's forget about terrifying art films and focus on the real reason people come here -
Gangland is an arcade shoot-'em-up that sees you enact vigilante justice on the criminal underworld of Unnamed City. So it's kind of like a Flash version of Death Wish with about the same amount of care and creativity put into it.
It's not that I have a problem with mindless violence - I grew up on Schwarzenegger movies. But even Commando required a modicum of skill to make it decent. Gangland simply plants you in front of generic backdrops and has you shoot at a never ending army of respawning hoodlums. Despite never needing to you're given the ability to move your character around with the arrow keys, but all you'll use that for is ducking behind the nearest cover. You control a set of crosshairs with the mouse and fire with the left button, and then it's just a case of shooting bad guys until an invisible timer runs out.
Between levels you have the option of restocking ammo (which isn't really necessary at first, since you'll only use one clip per level and you've already got three) and boosting your health. The cost of this comes out of your score, but even if you don't have the points you can still get the power ups; your score will just go into negative figures. Since when do games accept IOUs?
Sure, if you're worried about your score, then you won't want to do this. But don't tell me that this doesn't come off as just a little sloppy. No well-made game is going to let you get away with this, but since so little effort was put into Gangland, I don't know why I'm so surprised.
And that's it - four identical levels, save for the different backgrounds. There are no other weapons, no bosses, nothing but an endless wave of machine gun-wielding gangbangers who drop like flies with a single shot. There's no way you can die and there's no way you'll ever run out of bullets, so where's the challenge? Where's the satisfaction in beating this game?
And because my score is -1,000 I fail the job (that's the job of being a psychotic vigilante with a shotgun.) I didn't fail because I died or didn't reach a certain number of dead crooks. No, I lost because I took advantage of a bug that the developers could have easily fixed.
Not that you get much congratulations if you do manage a decent score.
"Hey, I killed all the gangs!"
"Oh, that's... that's great, Bob."
"I saved the city from its slow destruction!"
"Yeah, I know, it's awesome..."
But why would such a disappointing game have a satisfying conclusion? Gangland really has nothing to add to the shooters already out there, and is yet another example of why even mindless time killers require a little thought.