When Crime City debuted, sweeping conclusions were made that it would fill the void in the iOS market for a new Grand Theft Auto (GTA). Others drew on the fact that former Zynga GM Ken Chiu was CEO of the new company and claimed his debut game would lean more towards a standard Farmville or Mafia Wars, backed by the bland, generic name.

In a rare display of universal foresight, it turns out that everyone was right.

Like Farmville, you have to build your city up. Depending on the strategy and the goals of the gamer, it can end up as an urban ghost town of empty buildings or a metropolitan culture mecca with statues, decorations and stores.

Like GTA, the game boasts a variety of cars and weapons you can acquire. Unlike it, though, most of these are gained by spending money, but you gain that money by fighting, mugging and robbing. A crime boss has to keep his city in line, and that requires no small amount of effort. As anyone with a criminal justice degree can tell you, controlling a group of criminals requires a firm hand and lots of time.

Also like Farmville and Mafia Wars, the game’s lifeblood exists in social media. Though you can play with no social interaction whatsoever, the structure of Crime City wholly encourages the game to act as a virtual thug-life playground for your network. You can connect with other players by sharing your unique nine-digit code. Once connected, the success of others in your mob helps your own progress in the game.

If you find you need some time to devote to other activities (school, work, sleep), you don’t have to worry about your empire falling out of your grasp. The program continues to run while you’re away so you can collect money, participate in fights and build your influence in your neighborhood without being on the app.

With a little effort and some money, your inventory can boast hammers, combat shotguns, pistols or even a tommy gun. The game’s graphics look innocent enough, but you can use these weapons to execute other gang members and pull off heists. Players reach new areas each time they level up until they reach level 40. Assuming you have some time to do the initial leveling up, the app is totally worth trying out.

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