Car Jack Streets brings GTA2 style gameplay to the iPhone with a storyline twist. Tag Games have put it out for $4.99, and have high hopes for this sandbox game. You’re given assignments to help you make money, all for the ultimate goal of paying down your million dollar debt before you get hunted down. Failing to pay up your debt every seven days in real time means game over. But just because it can be done, does having this open-world gameplay equal fun on an iPhone? Let’s see how the action translates onto our tiny, buttonless devices.
Getting your money’s worth: This is a long game to play through to completion. And even when your not on a job, you can screw around in the city and just cause some mayhem. This makes it fun to pull out for a quick play now and then, even when you don’t feel like working down your debt. For $4.99, I can’t think of any game on the store that packs in more content.
Rocking the tunes: The licensed music in the game is impressive and creates a strong atmosphere. I found the music reminiscent of cruising the streets in GTA3 — you haven’t heard the songs, but you instantly like them.
GTA style gameplay is always fun: How can stealing cars and using flamethrowers not be fun? There’s always something to do in the city to amuse yourself with. The missions can become repetitive, but screwing around doesn’t get old.
My screen looks too busy: There’s an instant feeling of clutter when presented with the user interface. While most of the items on screen need to be seen at all times, they are very spaced out and take up too much of the visual display. When I can count almost ten distinct visual cues overlayed on the game, it’s a little too busy. I would have preferred the wanted stars being hidden when not in use, and other tweaks like the GPS button being integrated in the corner with the timer and health.
Learner’s permit: You’ll feel like you’re just getting your driver’s license, as driving around is difficult. Often times you’ll think your finger is on the steering area, but the controls don’t respond and you’ll hit walls. It’d be easier focus on your driving if you had less distractions — but you also need to watch the GPS, manage acceleration, and not disturb the environment. It gets frustrating, and I think our fat-fingered friends are going to have a serious problem playing this game.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it!: It’s hard enough to steer, but when the cops start going after you for every infraction you make, it can get frustrating. Running over pedestrians will happen occasionally by accident, and it would be appreciated if the cops would be a little more lenient and understand that it’s hard to steer on an iPod sometimes!
Car Jack Streets gives you a life-long mission: pay off your debt. The missions are not what will keep people coming back to play more, though. Just like in other sandbox games, the appeal is creating your own fun and doing what you want to do. Despite the problems I’ve pointed out, it’s still a fun experience. For $4.99, I can’t help but recommend it. All gamers on the iPhone should grab Car Jack Streets and take it for a spin.
Car Jack Streets was developed by Tag Games and is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch for $4.99. The version played for this review was the REVIEW build on an iPod Touch 2G. Played through for several hours across different sessions, but did not complete the game.