Price: $6.99    Score: 9/10    Category: Games

When it comes to games you can buy in the app store, it doesn’t get much dirtier than Gameloft‘s Gangstar series. These Grand Theft Auto style video games know how to deliver the grit, and Gangstar Rio: City of Saints is the boss of gritty on iOS.

Gangstar Rio: City of Saints starts unconventionally. Our main character is ready to transition away from gang life permanently, but on his way out of town with his hardcore girlfriend, someone car bombs the duo. Two months later our main character awakes from a coma a completely different looking (and very sinewy, strong) man. This is when Rio really starts to light up.

The main character, who is expected to be dead, renames himself Angel and returns to the gang a ruthless and unknown man. Since no one recognizes him he starts on the bottom rungs of gang life and pillages Rio and its residents to move up in the criminal world.

Anyone familiar with GTA or the Gangstar series will recognize this grind immediately. Angel, runs around executing missions, collecting evidence on the car bombing, and mixing it up with the city’s finest collection of gangsters, strippers and Asasseninos. Most of his time is spent stealing cars and driving from one part of the city to the other, but along the way Angel also gets mixed up in police killings, drug drops, and a series of other activities on might expect from a gangster.

The depth of the game is absolutely astonishing, but for every offensively witty comment or innovative mission, there’s also a flaw. The graphics are middle of the road (think Nintendo 64 grade), the voice acting sounds like robots with an accent, and sometimes the crouch button sticks so bad you have to take a hit and restart entire missions.

And while it’s amazing that Gangstar Rio works on every device, if you want to play the whole game over if you want to pick it up on a different device. Also, it’s hard to save in the middle of a mission, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time driving the same route again and again.

Still, Gangstar Rio: City of Saints is well worth the money. It’s not for the easily offended, but for some people this is the most convincing reason to play. Every car, from limo and ambulance to sports car and Jeep, is at your stealing desire. There are even jet skis and helicopters, meaning all aspects of land, air and sea are conquerable in Rio.

As Angel completes missions he earns money and respect points, which can be traded in to upgrade skills like strength or buy everything from guns and clothing. The main menu panel reveals Angel’s overall progress in the game, but as he advances the missions become more difficult. The result is a rough and tumble gang game full of murder, flirtation, dark humor, and crazy driving. Gang Star loyalists will rejoice in this slightly new iteration of the series as newcomers lose themselves in Gameloft’s portrayal of rough life in Rio.

Bottom Line: Gameloft’s new Gangstar Rio: City of Saints proves the city is full of sinners. Join in and get lost in the murderous mix of gang life.