E3 06: Gangs of London hands-on

You wouldn't know it from the title, but publisher Sony's upcoming drive-and-shoot crime actioner Gangs of London is actually descended from The Getaway, Sony's GTA-style action series for PS2. This time, however, the developers have done away with the pretense of playing as the good guys - instead of trying to clean up the streets, you're the ones doing the terrorizing.

Actually, yes - that does say "ones" - it's plural. You don't just play as a single character. In fact, at any given moment, you'll control a team of three gang members, each belonging to the same gang, but each with a slightly different weapon.

During the driving portions of the game, that has little effect - each car can only have one driver, after all. But when you open the door and start hoofing it, you can toggle control from one gang member to another at any time. That said, we're thinking we're going to stick with the guys carrying shotguns or uzis and let the PSP handle the guys wielding only pistols. At least, as long as we can - the demo missions we played were mercilessly difficult (it will obviously be tuned before shipping), so we often found ourselves just grabbing the closest guy left alive.

A 60-mission single-player campaign will find you taking on the roles of five different gangs over the course of its storyline, and bonuses like a picture-snapping tourist mode and pub games like darts and billiards should give GoL added longevity.

When you get into multiplayer, added options are promised, like the conquer-one-hood-at-a-time Gang Battle - which sounds cool, though we're skeptical about the fact that it's pass-the-PSP only, with no Wi-Fi support. We do know we dig the idea of game sharing (multiplay that requires only one person to have the game), though we'll have to wait to learn more about it. We hope there's something to it; we like the idea of shooting it out with the members of our own PSP-owning gang.

May 10, 2006