A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
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What's it about?
MAFIA CITY: WAR OF UNDERWORLD is a strategy game that revolves around becoming a powerful gang leader. The point is to set up shady businesses like casinos and pawnbrokers, collect resources, recruit and train loyal street thugs, and build both your reputation and your base. Most of your time is spent building and upgrading your territory; the rest involves attacking rival gangs. In addition to managing your own territory, you've got to deal with clan politics, other gangs, smugglers, investments, and keeping your diamond-obsessed girlfriend happy.
Is it any good?
At first glance, there's lots to do in this raunchy strategy app, but the farther you get, the more you realize that the gameplay is incredibly thin. Mafia City: War of Underworld seems to have hundreds of buttons to click to control your empire, and you'll see lots of screens packed with pictures of weapons, tantalizing upgrades, muscular henchmen, and scantily clad gang molls. But once you dig through these screens, you start to realize there's not much there.
The first problem is presentation. Developer Yottagames tries its best to emulate the gangster movies we're all familiar with, but to poor and often comic effect. They've thrown in all the prerequisite violence, curse words, and misogyny (all of the game's female characters are busty and scantily clad, and a closed curtain + sound effects implies that you're having sex), but they still come up short. The story is tissue-thin, and thanks to clumsy English translation, the dialogue is stiff and awkward. Odd text can also make game processes unclear. Mafia City: War of Underworld joins the app store ranks of so-called strategy games that are no more than a reason to mindlessly tap buttons. There's little sense of strategy or accomplishment; you tap once to finish a mission and tap again to get a reward. It's admittedly addictive (n the same way that bells are used to get lab rats addicted to cookies), and Yottagames is counting on that to drive players to cough up loads of real-world cash. They've even taken the reward idea a step further, giving players in-game currency in exchange for a five-star review. Take that into account when you're in the app store, and don't be fooled. The only strategy here comes from a cynical app contriving ways to separate you from your money.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism. Why do you think that Mafia City: War of Underworld pushes in-game purchases so frequently? What differentiates a real strategy game from a money sink?
Is the violence in Mafia City: War of Underworld expected given the subject matter, or do you think there's a level of shock value?
Which games do you have trouble putting down, and why? How can you balance screen time with engaging gameplay and real-life activities?
For kids who love strategy
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