Cities Skylines 2. Total War: Pharaoh. The upcoming Civilization 7. It’s a great time right now for strategy fans, with even the likes of Ara History Untold and Millennia from Paradox arriving soon to shake up the mix. But the ‘90s were a great time for the genre, too, thanks to Command and Conquer, Theme Hospital, the classic Age of Empires, and of course, Gangsters, one of the greatest and most unique strategy sims ever that you can get right now for less than the price of a Starbucks.
It’s a wonderful setup. In a Capone-era Chicago, you play a small-time hood trying to amass an underworld empire of bootlegging, gambling, and protection rackets. Strategy games have always danced with the macabre – we’ve all made the incomplete, ultra-fast death rides in Rollercoaster Tycoon, and taken sick pleasure from watching our punters careen off the end into a 2D ball of flames. Gangsters, however, takes the dark side of the strategy sim to much greater heights.
Order your men to beat up shopkeepers for protection money. Blackmail and pay bribes to politicians. If a rival organization is getting too powerful, you can even assassinate their leaders, and wage a gang war to assimilate their illegal earnings into your own.
An isometric management game in the spirit of Bullfrog’s Theme Park and Theme Hospital, with real-time elements when it comes to combat, Gangsters even lets you buck the system and try to go legitimate. Play your cards right, and you can muscle, extort, and murder your way to becoming mayor.
Released by Hothouse in 1998, the unique tone and visual flair of Gangsters is matched only by its tremendous depth and complexity. It’ll take a bit of learning, but if you want a strategy sim that focuses on the smaller picture, and lets you customize and oversee all the minute details of your ever-growing operation – like the more intricate aspects of Cities Skylines – this is one for you.
And it’s available now for the miniscule price of just $1.54 / £1.29. If you want to play one of the coolest and most distinctive strategy games ever made, you owe it to yourself to pick up Gangsters.
Alternatively, get stuck into some of the best RTS games ever made. We’ve also rounded up and ranked the greatest grand strategy games in the world right now, so there’s plenty to choose from while we wait on Civ 7 and the rest.