Friday, 24 June 2011

Kingpin: Life of Crime (PC) - Guest Post

I've been waiting to play this game for years. Now that I've got a cutting-edge 20th century 'computer', Kingpin: Life of Crime is finally within my grasp.
"Keep your ass out of Poisonville."

Beaten up by a couple of melty faced goons and left for dead in the shitty part of crapsville.

Because this game is based on Quake 2, all of the 3D models jiggle and pulsate due to how they move between animation frames. In motion, this goon's a throbbing pile of pus.

With naught but a rusty pipe and 68 HP to my name, I swear bloody revenge on the goons.

Let's go.

This guy runs like a damn rocket! I'd become so used to Elite Force II's trundlin' Munro that I forgot what real FPS protagonist speed was all about.

This friendly guy wants to sell me a crowbar for a dollar. I don't even have a single dollar... nuts.

You don't have a single 'HEY' button for conversations, you've got separate positive and negative buttons for gathering information and needlessly provoking people.

Not that provoking these guys is difficult. I innocently ran at this woman while waving the lead pipe around and now I've got a melee on my hands. Now she's dead, and her pimp too.

What a disaster. Worst of all, none of them had any money!

Crowbar guy couldn't really care less, he only cowered and told me to fuck off.

The city streets. Streets of the city. Know them like the back of my hand. Somewhere in the distance, a radio blasts out familiar hip-hop beats.

I think I need more than just the back of my hand if I'm going to survive.

Warehouses, huh? May as well loot the place. I was going to try and play the game as nice as I could, but my choices at this point are 'loot the warehouse for money and guns' or 'indiscriminately kill everybody I meet'.

There's no visual distinction between doors you can open and doors you can't open, so you have to hit the 'Activate' button on every recess just in case it's a door.

I snuck inside while these guys were distracted by a radio blasting out airhorn noises.

By that, I mean I got up to the warehouse door when the two guys suddenly became aware of my presence, so I started bouncing down the corridors of the warehouse like a rabbit on fire. I found a room full of crates with no obvious exit and got blasted by this guard and his pistols.

The boss of the warehouse wasn't pleased to see me, so we settled our differences in a gentlemanly fashion. My prize? A small flask of whiskey. That is ALL there was.

Now we're talking.

Long story short, I traded the flask of whiskey to a bum for the combination to the safe in the warehouse boss' office. Contents: $100. CHA-CHING. I bought myself a pistol and hired a bodyguard. I also got the crowbar because it was, y'know, one dollar.

Each trip to and from the warehouse was more dramatic than the last. As soon as the radio started airhorning and the guards took their positions in front of the radio, I ran, leapt and dodged like a mad thing.

My hired goon and I have got ourselves a winning strategy: he stands there and attacks the enemy with his pipe occasionally, while I hide behind him and shoot the enemies.

I don't have recharging health but the hired goon does, which is useful and neat. He's not indestructible by any means and you can't give him any more exact instructions than 'follow me' or 'wait here'. If you tell him to 'wait', he starts twitching uncomfortably whenever you try to leave him behind and eventually runs off in a random direction.

If I expect bad guys up ahead, I push the goon into the room first and let him draw their attention. It's the only way I've found not to die instantly, given that I've got less than 5 health after my warehouse adventures.

From aimlessly exploring the city, I've found myself in a sewer full of thugs spoiling for a fight. With the human shield deployed and pistol at the ready, I'm unstoppable.

At the start of the game, I was running about at light speed dodging incoming fire from all directions trying to get from place to place. Now that I'm able to kill an enemy every now and then, I can collect their dropped ammo and health packs and gradually become able to put up a decent fight by myself. At this distance, shooting the thug twice in the chest causes him to run away and find help. If I don't chase him down and kill him before he reaches his friends, I'm dead for sure.

Here, the game stops being a tactical battle for survival where every bullet and health point counts, and instead becomes a high-speed luck-based bloodbath where turning any corner or opening any door is greeted with being shot in the face by multiple enemies who aren't even facing you. Lousy cheaters.

Alright, seriously, which one of these guys is the bodyguard?

I know he's alive because his health gauge is visible on-screen.

Goon and I have reached the rooftops. I think he lost his right hand somewhere in the last barney. To tell the truth, I'm getting an awful lot of use out of this guy. A steal at ten bucks.

We head up and down all narrow staircases and systematically remove all heads we find. And now I'm stuck. There's a couple of locked doors and no keys. Never mind. Revenge is rubbish anyway.

Kingpin plays and feels a lot like Deus Ex, if you can believe that. The levels look identical to Deus Ex levels. (Or Max Payne levels, come to think of it.) The guns don't kill people instantly. Shooting people a couple of times causes them to freak out and run all over the place, which in turn causes other people to freak out and run all over the place as well. Talking to people and finding secret objectives gets you money, guns and gun upgrades.

I thought that this game would have strictly defined levels (and it does) but without a well-defined Doom-style 'NOW ENTERING FACTORY' prompt or a Quake-style obvious exit, the levels blend into one. All the information you gain from the people you don't kill instantly is put into a journal, so it feels like an open world game even though it's not.

I really enjoyed the sneaking and dodging survival stuff before I stole the $100, and after I got a couple more guns it was just alright. I don't care for the main guy's revenge plot, he doesn't have much of a personality (and not in a fun JC Denton way), and the constant 'fuck that fuck!' you get from every other person gets old fast.

I'm surprised it ran at all. That it was playable and even enjoyable for a short while was a nice bonus.


  1. A lot of people complained about the profanity in this game, but I've heard a lot worse anytime I turn on HBO or SHOWTIME. This game was a lot better than most people think -- it had a very dark feel a batman game in Gotham but without any caped crusader saving the day -- very Film noir, but with a gritty "gotham" feel to it. A few levels made me feel JUST like being back in the bad neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
    This is not a "great" game, but it is a very good game if you like this genre. Definitely worth playing at least once. This game was about 100 times better than that disaster MAX PAYNE --- so if you ever wanted a game like Max Payne, but wanted it to NOT SUCK ...KINGPIN might be just what you are looking for

    1. Why do you find Max Payne to be disaster? I mean it is really rare to find somebody who dislike Max Payne so I would like to know more from your point of view. Also what do you think about 2nd and 3rd installment of Max Payne serie?
      I have never played Kingpin, so I cant compare it with Max.

  2. One of my favorite games! Also not many people know that Xatrix (the makers of Kingpin) would change its name to Gray Matter and make another awesome game, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, before merging with Treyarch and working on the likes of Call of Duty World at War and Black Ops. Also one of Kingpin's designers is Viktor Antonov of the Half-Life 2 and Dishonored fame. No wonder the game's dystopian setting looks so great.

  3. hmmm....intresting
    where i should download that game

    1. Right now, it's a £6.67 on GOG, which is a bit much if you ask me. If you wait a while, it might be on sale there (I wouldn't be surprised if it went below £2 at some point), or you could track down a second hand copy. It was re-released on the Sold Out budget label (at least in the UK) so you should be able to find yourself a physical copy for next to nothing. Amazon has it for 48p (with £1.26 delivery) which doesn't sound too bad at all.


Semi-Random Game Box