TOP 7 Best Gangster Games Ever Made - MGW: Video Game Guides, Cheats, Tips and Tricks
TOP 7 Best Gangster Games Ever Made
Organized crime as a subject of storytelling has been fairly popular as far back as the early 1900s. Films from that time are obviously much different from what we have now, but the core story of a single person building an empire, creating wealth beyond their wildest dreams, and then some sort of betrayal is a sure-fire constant.
Each decade since then has had its share of classic gangster stories, but what I would consider the peak for the genre to have happened in the ‘70s and ‘80s, with movies like The Godfather and Scarface. These films would go on to inspire gangster stories in all media, including video games (with both of these games being adapted into video game form themselves). Gangster video games are a genre unto themself, but save some time looking around with this list of the Top 7 Gangster Games of All Time.
The Godfather (2006)
The first game on this list is The Godfather, a 2006 release by Electronic Arts and their Redwood Shores development studio. This open-world action-adventure game is based on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film, but instead of playing one of the characters from the film, you play as a non-canon character named Aldo Trapani. The story of the game intersects with the film’s story, with Aldo completing missions based on things that happened off-screen in the film. For instance, one of the missions is to deliver a severed horse head to the bed of an unfortunate recipient. The actors from the film reprised their roles through voice acting, including Robert Duvall, James Caan, and even Marlon Brando, though he was very ill at the time of recording, so most of that material ended up being scrapped.
Scarface: The World is Yours
The Scarface film is probably one of the most recognized stories in film history, and it certainly is a great film. The 2006 video game based on this film is called Scarface: The World is Yours, and instead of being a retelling of the story everyone knows, the developers at Radical Entertainment went a step further and made a Scarface game that serves as a pseudo-sequel. This game retcons the ending of the film where Tony Montana dies, and instead has him surviving the assault on his mansion and going on to rebuild his Miami empire and take revenge on the people who tried to kill him. It was a decision that could have ended in disaster, but it ended up working out. Scarface: The World is Yours is a fantastic game that has stood the test of time.
The Warriors is another film from the ‘70s that got a fitting video game adaptation in the early 2000s with Rockstar Toronto’s beat ‘em up that shares the same name. The Warriors follows the events of the film, with each character getting their own mission. In fact, the first portion of the game goes beyond the story presented in the film, covering events that happened 3 months prior to the beginning of the film. The gameplay focuses on large-scale brawls, perfectly capturing the spirit of The Warriors while also including other gameplay mechanics like chase sequences and tagging to break up those brawls.
Our next game takes us to the Far East to cover a different kind of gangster. 2012’s Sleeping Dogs by United Front Games tells the story of Wei Shen, an undercover cop on a mission to infiltrate a Triad gang. The game focuses on martial arts combat with several opponents simultaneously, as well as exploration of the large open-world map with parkour moves and vehicles. Sleeping Dogs was originally under development at Activision Blizzard as an entry in the True Crime series of games until they canceled the project. That’s when Square Enix swooped in to buy the rights to the game and changed the title to release it under their own banner. This Chinese gangster epic ended up being a huge success for Square Enix, and it has since become one of the premier gangster video game experiences thanks to its immaculate gameplay and story.
Now we travel to Japan to cover yet another type of gangster. You can’t make a list of gangster video games without mentioning Sega’s long-running Yakuza series. The addicting amalgamation of over-the-top silly moments with melodramatic story themes has been a staple in both the East and West since the first game was released in 2006. The gameplay consists of beat ‘em up encounters, open-world exploration, and a massive list of diversionary activities, such as visiting cabaret and hostess clubs to get to know the people there, microcar racing with children, and one entry even has a card battling minigame that features women scantily clad in bug-themed clothing. That’s just the tip of the weird iceberg for this series and one of the reasons that it has endured so long and remained successful.
Grand Theft Auto Series
When you mention gangster video games, the first game to come to mind is probably one of the entries in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and for good reason. It is Rockstar’s premiere franchise, and each game that is released reliably breaks sales records. The franchise started in 1997 and has shown up on every single platform over time, from MS-DOS to the Game Boys, to iOS and Android as well as home consoles. The release of Grand Theft Auto Online alongside GTAV in 2013 has allowed Rockstar to basically print money for almost 10 years, with the game getting constant upgrades and new content over that time period. The latest addition was in December 2021, with an expansion that features Dr. Dre and shows what happened to Franklin after the events of GTAV.
Red Dead Redemption 2
In my opinion, there is no experience quite like Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar’s 2018 cowboy simulator magnum opus is actually the prequel to Red Dead Redemption and follows Arthur Morgan and the Dutch Van Der Linde Gang as they fight to survive in a Wild West that is becoming more civilized than what they are used to. In addition to being hunted down by the remaining rival gangs, they also have to face government entities that are trying to bring law to a lawless land. In addition to the amazing story, Red Dead Redemption 2 features perhaps the largest, most alive open world in any game up to this point. Day turns to night; all kinds of animals go about their business as you hunt, fish, complete missions, or just wander around on horseback, taking in the incredibly lifelike scenery. While I have played the other games on this list and enjoyed all of them, Red Dead Redemption 2 holds a special place in my heart as one of the best games I have ever played, gangster-themed or otherwise.
Mike has been playing video games since he was able to hold a controller, having been fascinated by Sonic 2 on his mom’s Sega Genesis. That fascination and passion for the art form has grown exponentially nearly 30 years later, and he doesn’t see that fading away anytime soon.