I love filmmakers who know how to shoot a scene, as visual composition is such an important element of cinema. Films like Once Upon A Time In America and Carlito’s Way are proof that gangster films can excel with their own uniquely epic, and at times pulpy, style. Whatever images are in the frame should draw the audience into the story, and upon seeing the intriguing opening sequence of Payback2, I was ready for a compelling gangland experience.

First impressions, however, can be deceptive, and upon finding out Payback2 was simply a series of mini-games without any kind of narrative, I was definitely disappointed. The controls, which have you tilting the screen for driving as well as touching the screen to accelerate your car or to put on the brakes, was challenging at first, as was learning how to properly shoot a bazooka in the middle of a crowded intersection or driving a tank through a string of cop cars.

Without Grand Theft Auto, gangster games like Payback2 wouldn’t exist, and the iOS titles does give players a beautiful, eye catching open world as the backdrop. I’m a sucker for vast environments, and whether it’s by car, on foot, or even with the use of a helicopter, there are tons of bloodied streets to explore. Although the racing challenges left me uninspired and a bit bored, getting into gang warfare mode, in which you are tasked with killing as many rivals as possible, is reasonably entertaining. If you plan on blasting away at your foes while on foot, expect a few unfriendly cars to splatter you all over the sidewalk.

For $5.99, however, I was expecting some kind of narrative to support all this action, and not a series of mini games that will help unlock new levels of gameplay. Although it’s great to use a flamethrower, throw grenades at your adversaries, and race an ice cream truck to the finish line – eventually all those explosions grow absolutely tiresome. As much as I love wonderful camerawork, the overhead, God point of view style the game employs is fun for the first few minutes, and then your head may get dizzy.

Great attention may have been paid to city, but the developers decided to gloss over other things, like character customization. As with the racing games, the customization features are simply there because it’s something that’s expected from a GTA descendant. Some thought into all the little things would have been welcome, and the lack of imagination on certain aspects of this game is simply infuriating.

I really wanted to love Payback2 and maybe I would have gone easier on it if this game was a free download. But if you’re going to charge a few bucks and offer some type of gangster’s paradise, then some balls to the wall action and interesting storytelling would have saved the day. Whoever said crime doesn’t pay probably got their hands on Payback2, a title with tons of promise and no finish.


App Store Link: Payback2 for iPhoneiPad | By Apex Designs | Price: $5.99 | Version: 2.1 | 39.4 MB | Rating 9+
5.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating