Mobsters: Criminal Empire marches back into the Facebook gang war

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Mobsters Criminal Empire preview
There's been a gang war ravaging one of the largest communities in the world: Facebook. It started years ago with Mob Wars versus Mafia Wars (and we all know who won that battle), and later ramped up again with Funzio's Crime City. All the while, Playdom enjoyed a considerable piece of the pie with its Mobsters franchise, waiting patiently for a chance at a heftier slice.

Now that Zynga has given up a considerable amount of territory with its attempt at emulating Crime City with the flop that was Mafia Wars 2, Disney's social game studio has swooped in for a takeover with Mobsters: Criminal Empire. The third game in Playdom's long-running crime game franchise, Criminal Empire takes a similar birds-eye view of the mob game scene both literally and figuratively.
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"That's kind of the overall thing: taking some of the stuff we've seen work on platform and apply some of the Mobsters formula to it and take it up to a high-polished level and gameplay experience," Playdom executive producer Adam Prewett tell us. Playdom isn't dressing it up: This is the studio's answer to recent moves by the opposition, albeit in the style of the Mobsters franchise.

The general play hook is, however, relatively new in its own right, roping in concepts from the existing isometric mafia games on Facebook with those of the real-time strategy games that the small "hardcore" set seems to enjoy. The two ideas aren't all that original in their own right, but combined together make for a seemingly refreshing approach to this well-tread street.
Mobsters Criminal Empire screens
Like any good graphics-based Facebook game, players will create (and can customize to their heart's content) their own avatar. This personal mobster has its own set of equipment that players can swap out at any time, which will come in handy when invading enemy territory. Most importantly, however, according to Prewett, is that it's just plain fun to have one.

"Two things: A.) It's really fun to run around a city and throw grenades and stuff. And B.) You can be a little bit more strategic and be like, 'Well, their city's really well-laid out and defended, but if I can get my avatar in and take out this one building, then I can throw in a bunch of troops through that new channel and exploit them.'"

Players also have their own empire to worry about, which is where those troops come in. There are five types of available troops (with more to come)--like the Soldier, Thief and Pyro--all of which have their own unique uses. But in order to gain these special units for battle, players will have to take over nearby buildings and effectively force their hand in joining them. You don't build your empire in this mafia game. You take it.
Mobsters Criminal Empire images
"Criminals don't go around and build stuff all the time," Prewett says, "they take the stuff over, start managing it, invest in it and get some thing out of it." But it won't necessarily be easy to take over a neighboring building much less some enemy territory. In this Facebook game, there will be times in which you fail--crazy, we know. This is because of how the battle system works: When players attack territories, they send in troops in real time that attack surrounding buildings and units in formation.

"One thing we found out [is that] it's actually okay to make things a little tough," Prewett admits. "It's not always win-win for our players. I think the key part that we found out is as long as they know how to win they'll come back in and try harder."

Unfortunately, social features will be rather light in Criminal Empire at launch, with simple visitation and gifting mechanics in place. Things look much better on the horizon, however, with PvP, avatar interaction and the ability to defend your friends' territory on the way, according to Prewett. Ultimately, this leaves one question: How will Mobsters: Criminal Empire avoid the same fate as, say, Mafia Wars 2?
Mobsters Criminal Empire screen shots
"I think that the biggest thing for us is," Prewett says, "if we did our job and were able to satisfy the core crime gamer--let's say, the guy who fantasizes that he's going to go take this building over and run it--as long as we did a great job of making that experience the same, I think that they'll cross promote [with previous Mobsters games], but they'll also stick because it will be satisfying the action that they really love."

Click here to play Mobsters: Criminal Empire on Facebook Now >

Are you excited for the next game in the Mobsters franchise? Will this game suffer the same fate as Mafia Wars 2? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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