Pocket Mobsters Is An Ambitious Game. Ambition Is A Dangerous Thing.

In the whack-y world of the fictional mafia, right down the street from the jolly singing pirates, enthusiasm for climbing the corporate ladder is both good and bad. You need that hunger to stay ahead of the pack, but push too hard and you might find yourself riddled with bullets or, in the case of mobile MMO Pocket Mobsters, bugs.

Massive Damage's idea for the game is pretty special. Using location services, the game transforms your real-world base of operations into a pixelated mobster playground. The businesses you shake down are real-world locations. There's a certain pleasure in extorting money from the digital representations of the managers of the apartment complex I pay rent to every month, even if it is just a simple screen-touching mini-game.

Shaking down business is one of two major means of advancing in Pocket Mobsters, the other being beating up rival mobs. Random NPC gangs roam the streets of your town, and it's up to you to gather a group of digital deadbeats to take them out.

This is done via a fighting mini-game (above, center) which seems to involve selecting the icon of your most powerful party member over and over again until the other gang goes down. There's a sort of combo system, and you can level up your mob members with cash to make them more powerful, but the most effective tactic seems to by just choosing the most powerful guy time and time again.

Pocket Mobsters is a massively multiplayer game, and the idea of building up my own mob and battling against or together with other players was what drew me to the game in the first place. It's also a buggy mess right now. I can only seem to battle other players when they're five levels above mine, which makes for some tense fights. The other option, using reputation points to hire another player to fight in your crew for a short period, crashes the game every time I choose it.

There is some promise here. I enjoy the leveling aspect. I can't wait to take my mob on the road and see if I can mix things up in other locations. And as far as the MMO aspect, chat seems to be working fine, and the developers are right there in the room, assuring players the patches to fix problems on on the way.

Pocket Mobsters made its big-time debut before it was ready, and it got hit for it. Luckily the bullets didn't hit anything vital, and there's still a chance for a full recovery.

Pocket Mobsters

Genre: Mobster MMO

Developer: Massive Damage

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

Get Pocket Mobsters on iTunes