Kingpin is a bite out of crime

Kingpin: Life of Crime
Reviewed On
Available For

"You’re gonna die, mother f*****!" is probably the last thing you will hear in the grimy, crime filled world of Kingpin. (Note: we added the *’s, expect the full language in the game)

Kingpin is a lot more than the average johnny-come-lately shooter. It sports amazing textures, a solid plot and some of the best sound support I’ve ever laid ears upon in a shooter. But of course all anyone is talking about is the violence, the blood and the liberal use of the "F word."

So let me get that out of the way first. The first thing you will notice is that every character you meet in this game is going to be cursing. While this is really cool at first, after a while it actually gets to be a bit much. A while after that, you just sort of get desensitized to it and the cursing fades into the background of average speech.

The world of Kingpin sort of has a 1950’s gone very, very wrong feel. Gangsters all wear suits, while the women in the game sport a sort of Seattle post-apocalyptic-grunge look. And everyone swears. Looking past the fact that the world is dark and dirty, the trash lined and rat-infested streets are actually very well rendered, with metal barrels providing a cheery camp fire atmosphere for the street bums that you can either interact with, or just crush their skulls on a sadistic whim. There is also a feeling of hopelessness that prevails in the game. There is no law and if you want something, you best be willing to take it.

Take the first "puzzle" the game presents to you as an example. You need a dollar to buy a crowbar, the first weapon upgrade in the game. But, since you have just been rolled by two street punks, you don’t have any money. So what’s a self-respecting criminal to do? Simply pick a fight with a huge guy talking to his woman in a back alley. Crack his head open with your lead pipe and then move on and do the same thing to his woman. Both of them are carrying a few dollars which you can salvage, and presto, you are well on your way to becoming the bastardy anti-hero that you will need to be to win this dark game.

You can pay certain thugs to help you out on your quest, which is to kill the current Kingpin, whose voice and profile are very similar to the Kingpin from the gangster movie Pulp Fiction. Kill the leader and become the new one is apparently the law of the street. Nice work if you can get it I suppose.

Make no mistake that this game contains very adult and somewhat disturbing themes. Some examples are: when hired to find a missing girl she is eventually located chopped into pieces down by the docks, an angry auto-mechanic threatens to "f*** you in the ass" before attacking with dual pistols and his dogs, and when given a ride by a stranger (in a cutscene) and the driver asks for the promised money your character instead pulls out a shotgun and splatters the inside of the vehicle with the man’s brain while cutely saying, "I got your damn money right here."

But despite all the blood and gore and vulgarity, the game is fun to play. It may be a guilty pleasure, but it’s nice to see a game where the hero is not all good. In Kingpin, you are not really very good at all, except when possibly compared to some of the people you kill. (Sort of like that Mel Gibson movie Payback.) It also takes some degree of brains to play Kingpin. Early on in the game you have to sneak into a warehouse guarded by well-armed security people. If you wait till they are listening to the radio however, you can sneak by them unnoticed. Little things like that make the game more than just a shooter. If you go all out in every situation, you won’t live very long.

Unfortunately, the multiplayer aspects of Kingpin fall well short of the single player experience. The game is so lag ridden when playing online, that even when playing though a T1, expect to get killed at least a few times while the game hangs. And while it’s cool to have the Cypress Hill soundtrack playing in the background while you play, unless you turn the music off, expect to be vulnerable for several seconds at the end of each song while it reloads. Also having to play thorough is a real pain, but the terrible lag is the biggest issue. Through a standard 56K phone line, forget about it.

All in all the game is excellent in single player mode. Minus the annoying rats that bite and take health from you and are impossible to find and kill, a couple of unnecessary jumping puzzles and too few levels, the game really rocks. You will be surprised how easy it is to get into the role of being a mean-take no-prisoners street punk. The game falls down terribly in multiplayer mode, and just about any shooter be it Unreal or Half-Life offers better online gameplay. Still, the bad multiplayer lag problems should not take away from the game’s overall score, so we are going to break this one out.

In Multiplayer mode the game scores a completely below average 2 1/2 GiN Gems. For the single player experience though, if you have a strong stomach, are not offended by vulgar language and want to see what it’s like to be bad, then this 4 1/2 GiN Gem title is exactly what you are looking for.

"I got your damn copy right here."

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