Thursday Throwdown: Mafia Wars or Gangster City? You Decide

Thu, Jul 22, 2010

Gangster City, Mafia Wars, Social

Happy Thursday everyone! Welcome to another edition of the Thursday Throwdown here on Frisky Mongoose. Last week, we took a look at tropical farming by having a Throwdown between Tiki Farm and Island Paradise. The results of last week’s poll are in, and it turns out that there really was no contest between the two, as Tiki Farm ended up pulling in a whopping 90% of the vote, to Island Paradises’ remaining 10%.

This week, we enter into a life of crime by taking a look at Zynga’s Mafia Wars and Playfish’s Gangster City. According to the latest AppData figures, Zynga launched Mafia Wars on Facebook in November of 2008 (making it one of the most well-established games on the site), and it currently sits at around 18 million users. Gangster City, meanwhile, launched on Facebook in January of this year, and currently sits at around 425,000 users. While the two numbers might not outwardly seem worth a comparison, Gangster City was at once point played by many, many more people, and as such, is worthy of a mention in our Throwdown, due to its (past) proven potential to draw in players. As of this writing, though, it seems as though the player loss experienced by even most of Zynga’s games has hit Gangster City fairly hard.

Regardless, to the uninitiated, you could describe both games as such: “You’ll play as an entry level member of the mob, who can complete jobs, add members to ‘the family,’ buy equipment, collect items and more, all in an effort to work your way up the ranks of the mob.” However, the way you go about achieving that task in each game is fairly different.

The most noteworthy difference between the games comes from the simple look and feel of them. Mafia Wars is almost entirely text-based, and doesn’t contain very many named characters. Gangster City, on the other hand, contains cutscenes, battle animations (which can be skipped to save time), and even voice acting. Most of the voice acting and cutscenes come as you unlock new chapters in the game, which tend to correspond to the unlocking of new portions on the game’s map. In Mafia Wars, meanwhile, your leveling up does allow you access to new jobs, but there isn’t one large-scale, all-encompassing map to navigate.

Doing jobs in Mafia Wars

As a result of their inclusion of cutscenes, the gameplay of Gangster City takes on the look of Grand Theft Auto with its graphics, while Mafia Wars looks more like a standard drawing. Both are animated graphics, to be sure, but Gangster City appears more like a comic book than its competitor.

Technical differences aside, other noteworthy differences between the two games come when speaking of how your real-world friends are brought into the action. In both games, you can add your real world friends (who play the game) to your family. In Mafia Wars, this can amount to some very impressive boosts to your stats, including how much money you earn from jobs or how much energy it takes to complete jobs to begin with. In Gangster City, you also receive a boost, but it doesn’t appear to be as large.

Perhaps this is due to the inclusion of other family-centric features in Gangster City that make up for that. For instance, Family Jobs will allow you to assign your family members to jobs lasting a few minutes, hours, or days at a time. These jobs cost money to start, but reward you with a large profit in the end. Additionally, where the stats of your family members in Mafia Wars are dependent on what level that friend has independently reached in the game, in Gangster City, you can upgrade your family members as you level up in the game.

Fight fellow players in Gangster City

Just as both games can be compared in some very large ways, so too can they be compared via their smaller differences. Here’s a few that you’ll spot should you play both games:

  • Gangster City, as of this writing, has a level cap of 120, whereas Mafia Wars will let you level up past level 600 and beyond.
  • Both games will allow you to purchase and upgrade properties, but Mafia Wars contains a Chop Shop and Weapons Depot that allow you to create new vehicles and weapons using parts you find in fights with real world players or through jobs.
  • Gangster City contains a soundtrack, while Mafia Wars is silent.
  • Mafia Wars contains themed geographical locations, while Gangster City does not.
  • Gangster City allows users level 50 and above to take part in Campaigns, adding another layer to the gameplay.

As we like to say, we could spend far longer comparing and contrasting both games, but as for which game is better, we’ll leave that to you. Which game do you think should rest at the top of the criminal underworld? Let us know your choice by voting in the poll below, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below, or in our forums – we’ve love to hear why you voted the way that you did!

Be sure to check back with us for future installments of the Thursday Throwdown! Do you have an idea for a Throwdown? Let us know – perhaps your idea will be featured in a future installment!


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- who has written 2533 posts on Frisky Mongoose.

Brandy is the Social Editor at Frisky Mongoose, focusing on the social side of the gaming world.

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