Urban Crime [Free], the newest game from Gameloft, is the latest title attempting to take a traditional genre and infuse it with free-to-play elements. In this case, it’s the open world third-person shooter made popular by the likes of Grand Theft Auto III that gets the freemium makeover. Normally, these types of games are treated as forums discussing the merits of freemium and whether the gameplay and overall presentation outweighs whatever hooks are put into the game. In the case of Urban Crime, that discussion isn’t necessary as the game has so many issues (freemium and otherwise) that you really should just avoid it completely.

In Urban Crime, you’re thrown into a world run by a multitude of gangs and are told to conquer it territory by territory. You’ll accomplish this by running randomly generated missions until you fill up an arbitrary meter that allows you to take out a rival gang leader. Eliminate said leader and you earn a piece of territory and you start over again. Completing missions also earns money and experience which is used to level up and unlock random rewards. Missions are divided into standard subtypes ranging from assassinations to drag races to escort missions. While I didn’t particularly have any issues with the missions, I found them becoming repetitive rather quickly.

One of the big differences in Urban Crime compared to similar titles is its complete reliance on freemium. To put it bluntly, the switch to freemium is poorly implemented and gets in the way of a lot of elements that are staples for this genre. As an example, let’s take carjacking. Imagine running from the cops and spotting an awesome sports car to aid in your getaway. You get close, press the button to highjack, and get a message saying you don’t have a high enough level to steal this car. Of course, you can buy diamonds (the in-game premium currency) to let you steal it instantly, but that would be ridiculous. I could understand clothing, skillsets, and even weapons tied to the leveling system, but being able to steal certain cars? That’s just silly.

The above example is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to freemium. Gameloft’s notorious energy system also makes a return. It doesn’t go as far shutting the game down when you run out of energy, but if you do run out, you will not be able to play new missions until your energy recovers. You can do this by spending your premium currency to recharge, waiting awhile for it to naturally build up, or by gaining levels. Granted, the first hour or so of content seems to be relatively stable as far as energy is concerned (since you continue to gain levels and thus energy at a steady pace). However, once you get to the point where you have to do a lot of missions to even gain levels, you’re going to be bottlenecked very quickly.

Another area of Urban Crime that I’m disappointed in is the sacrifice of an overall story in favor of the strict mission based gameplay. Sure, Gangstar wasn’t particularly known for its epic storytelling, but at least there was an overarching tale that sought to bring you in. Urban Crime simply puts you in the city and tells you to take it over for no other reason other than that. Outside of the initial prompt at the start of the game, the only story found lies in the fragmented mission texts which offer nothing of value and are just an excuse to go out and cause more havoc. What’s worse, since this game reuses the assets of Gangstar: Miami Vindication, you won’t even have the pleasure (what little there is) of exploring a new world if you’ve played that game before.

There’re a few other elements within Urban Crime that I haven’t addressed yet, but might factor in your choice to check this out. The visuals look like they came from a game made a few years ago (which they are) and do not compare to any games recently released. Despite this, I still encountered a lot of obnoxious pop-up and frame rate issues, even on the most recent iOS devices. The controls are probably one of the few areas of the game that are adequate, with a few different schemes that give you the option of touch controls or the accelerometer. However, when you combine any control method with the poor frame rate, most gamers will probably be frustrated regardless.

I’m really not sure what Gameloft is trying to do with Urban Crime. Yes, it’s a freemium game and the whole point is to attract folks under the guise of free play and eventually get them to shell out with IAP. However, in order for that to work, you have to actually want to play the game in the first place before you even think about spending money in the game. With its complete lack of narrative, boring mission structure, antiquated visuals, spotty controls and monotonous gameplay, I don’t know who would want to play this, much less eventually spend money within it. If you’re looking for a free-roaming third-person shooter on your iOS device, go pick up GTA 3 [$5.99] if you haven’t already done so. Otherwise, just stay away from here.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4SFMWTJDPGM77JCIQXJN3YSIJ4 A B

    This game is unbearable. This freemium garbage has to stop.

  • michael bluth

    The whole premise of this game makes me sick. Glorifying a horrible sub culture with blatant racism. GL never fails to leave me feeling ill in my stomach.

  • Anonymous

    2 stars seems generous for this piece of crap. I'd give it half a star at most. I wish Gameloft would go back to making quality premium games like they used to.

    • Chris Aanerud

      I wouldn't go so far as to call their previous premium clones 'quality' (or premium for that matter, since they all dropped to 99 cents eventually). But I'd rather play NOVA 2 than any of the tripe they've been unleashing lately.

      • http://twitter.com/DaKleine Mark

        They are quality compared to what is available on the AppStore. And of course prices will drop. It's the same on other platforms too. I got Mass Effect 2 for 7 euros on steam, should I call it a downloadable game because it goes on sale? No, it's still a premium game. (this was last summer btw.)

  • Anonymous

    I don't even fart at their general direction. My gasses are far too valuable for GenericLoft.

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Inaba-kun

    Gameloft are still ripping off GTA San Andreas? How long ago was that now?  It's tasteless in the extreme, and the type of tacky, tabloid, brain dead trash which makes iOS look like a waste of space.  

    • http://twitter.com/Tweety3_1415 Alexander Walker

      what are you denouncing here? the act of copying? or gta san andreas? . as far as concerns gta san andreas, that game is not tasteless- the whole point is that it is satirising gang culture and the whole "american dream" rags to riches story. all the while with great gameplay.

      • Anonymous

        I agree, san andreas did a great job at pulling off the whole menace to society, boyz in the hood feel and recreated a specific and nostalgic period of time with the music and atmosphere respectfully, whereas gameloft's blatancy just comes off as tasteless racist garbage.  But in my opinion even the best gameloft game is still some of the worst stuff on the app store, it's just so uninspired that it almost makes me lose interest in gaming all together... 

      • Anonymous

        Uninspired? What are you talking about? Just look at the name. Clearly it took a vast team of creative geniuses to come up with a name like "Urban Crime."

  • http://clickplow.com/ John

    I knew this game was going to be a trainwreck, you could sense it the moment it was released.

  • Merlin Cheng

    Frankly if I want to play this, won't it make more sense to play Gangstar: Miami Vindication instead since they are so similar? I don't understand why Gameloft would literally "clone" one of their games. 

    Perhaps the same art asset is due to lack of time (with rumors of Gameloft employers, mainly the programmers having to work OT almost everyday) and the executives being blinded by their hungry for more money and focus less on the well-fare of their workers.

  • Declan Bowers

    Executive board at gameloft:
    Chairman: Ok, now we've ripped off every decent console game in existance badly andlost half our profits with crappy freenium games, what can we do next?

    Board member: err...we could rip off one of our own games?

    Chairman: I love it! It'll be even better if we add our freenium model to it that will make us masses of money for no adequately explained reason. Let's do it!

    • Anonymous

      Eventually, they'll make a Penny Arcade comic using this same script. Genius.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KRMNNL777CNWWWKRUDG7OQPLKE Colin

    In a nutshell, Gameloft is a ripoff. Is a game really free if their steering you towards paying to continue? How can gameloft be allowed to continue with such a shameless act of greed? For a good example of how to do it properly, look at Infinity Blade. You can play the game and earn the weapons and armour and so on. Or if you want, you can opt for the iap and get your stuff. And infinity blade isn't free either. And look how well the game has done!!! Gameloft should follow this as the example.
    In the meantime, I don't bother the Gameloft anymore. And any game by Glu is just as bad and untill they change I'm never downloading any game from these companies again.

    • Anonymous

      >Is a game really free if their steering you towards paying to continue?

      I don't think you understand the meaning of the word 'free.' You don't HAVE to pay to continue, it just makes the game easier. It's still completely free though.

      >How can gameloft be allowed to continue with such a shameless act of greed?

      Free market economy. Obviously there's a market for these types of games otherwise they wouldn't keep making this stuff. You might not be giving them any money but somebody is.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KRMNNL777CNWWWKRUDG7OQPLKE Colin

        Your missing the point. Gameloft employs a cunning meter system that, when it drops to a certain point, you pretty much have no choice but to use the iap. Or you can wait for an hour,or more depending on how slow the meter builds up again (a sneaky ploy there!) to continue. Call me old fashioned but that's not how a game should be. There are sooo many people out the that say they they'd prefer to pay for a game and know they'll be getting quality. Look at the new Sonic Games or any game by Cave. You pay for them because you know your getting your money's worth. They all have iap's but the point is, they're not nesserary!
        If gameloft were more like this then it would more better.

  • http://twitter.com/D_LA_ROC D_LA_ROC

    Gameloft used to make my favorite iOS games. Now I try to avoid them. Obviously they do not care what their fans want. I've seen hundreds and hundreds of comments and tweets to Gameloft asking to stop making freemium games. They made Dungeon Hunter 3 Freemium and ruined one of the best franchise games they had. I would very much rather pay 5.99 or even 9.99 for a good quality game instead of this freemium crap.

  • Anonymous

    lets all agree then to boycott these assholes! this game is a god dam disgrace.

  • John Smith

    Freemium blows. Always. That is all.

  • Thomas Serruques

    Dungeon Hunter III was a shame, a blatant rip off and now it's more of the same.
    Shame on you Gameloft

  • http://twitter.com/briogame BrioGame

    This game is abuse of the iOS APPLE SHOULD REMOVE REMOVE IT FROM THE APP STORE!!!!!! Shame on you Gameloft you used to be a good company, but than you took an arrow in the knee or hell knows where else. SHAME SHAME SHAME!

  • Sweet Diss

    What is the point of stealing a car if you have to pay money for it?

  • Lamar Taylor

    I own quite a few Gameloft titles on my iPad and iPhone but I'm boycotting these garbage freemium games once and for all. You can't just roll around and "do dirt" without having to make an in app purchase.

    I played this game for 5 minutes and deleted it and went back the GTA3...after giving a 1 star review.

  • http://www.meadiciona.com/charles_anjos Charles Albert

    And Gameloft manages to create a new category of gaming: CRAPIUM

  • coolboy2009

    You know what pester power does? I have been emailing gameloft for a long time now with game suggestions (Including, *Dramatic pause and shock*, an ORIGINAL RTS/FPS game.)

    The guy that I eamailed them too always get's the ideas to the team. And I said that the freemium, while being a nice idea, shouldn't turn an Iphone into a platform for facebook games. And even HE agreed.

    • Sanjiv Prasad

      You are truly sexy and your boobs are big

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/S3MCUSJIUNEOVNIAVLVHGJ3BOM Chui Ling

    anybody know how to reset the game?

  • Sanjiv Prasad


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  • Sanjiv Prasad

    Xs unlih

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  • Sanjiv Prasad


Urban Crime Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 2