I know what you're thinking. Kingpin?? That goofy movie with Jeff Daniels & gang at the bowling alley? I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY MADE IT INTO A GAME!! Get a grip my friend. The game is about 180 degrees different from the movie. I can assure you that you will not see a single bowling pin in the game, but you will see plenty of cussin' punk nigga's itching to cap a strike up your ass. You see, a kingpin is also the term for a head mobster that controls the inflow/outflow of all the cash in gangsta city. You deal with coke, weed, and other drug goodies your DARE officer has taught you to never mess around with.
Kingpin was developed by the boys at Xatrix. If you're OG, you'll remember the BUILD engine, the famous one that was the backbone of Duke Nukem 3D. One of Xatrix's first games was REDNECK RAMPAGE. By just looking at the name, Redneck Rampage, you can smell the foul odor of controversy. Some Wal-Mart goodie goodies wouldn't sell the title at their stores.
Their next notable title was Quake II's first mission pack. That was ugly. I hated it. I was sorely disappointed that the boys of the fantastically entertaining Redneck Rampage came out with such a P.O.S. product. When I heard of them developing Kingpin, I wasn't very enthusiastic. After their lack-luster mission pack, I didn't follow the development of the game very closely as I did other games I was interested in (Duke 4-Ever, Quake III, System Shock 2, etc...). When the final version was released, I picked it up as a side thought because nothing better was out that caught my attention.
What I found within was something better than their mission pack. It was even better than Redneck Rampage. It's a product that wasn't destroyed by my own hype, and after beating the game, I found it to be something that is worthy of permanent space on my harddrive. Not an easy task, to be that. That's why I still have nearly 9 gigs of free space still. =)
In addition to lush graphics that hardly looks like the Quake II engine, it comes packed with hard core firepower with weapons that include the flame thrower, and semi-automatic 3 shot tommygun. Within the game you get to interact with computer controlled characters, and they'll react in depending on the way you approach them. If you cuss them out, they'll pull out their magnums and shoot you half-way to Italy. If you're nice to them, they might offer their help (for a price) or they might blast you to hell anyway.
The story is thus: You're a good-for-nothing punk that's washed up from fiddling around with people at Poisonville. Nicky, a small-time gangsta you kill later, and his boys beat you up good, and leave you to die, but you're too tough to die. The beginning cutscene shows the boys laughing and warning you to stay out of Poisonville. Naturally, you respond, "I'm gonna bury those motherf*ckers...", and that's where you take over.
It's a long and hard road out of the dumpsters and working your way up to the #1 Kingpin. All throughout the game, you get to see different cutscenes of the current Kingpin, some menacing black dood dripping with gold necklace and earrings, flipping out and executing his minions because they couldn't kill you. As you grow more powerful, the Kingpin sends out more of his hard hitting bad boys with rocket launchers. If you survive them all, you eventually arrive at his pad and take out the entire palance of gangsta's.
As I stated before, the graphics of Kingpin are top notch. If you're thinking lushous and beautiful like Unreal or Half-Life, think dirty and gloomy instead. Xatrix made the game dark and foreboding. Obviously you don't run around flowery meadows on your way to becoming the Kingpin. You hang around the slums of the city. Reminds me a lot of the big cities like L.A. or New York at night; gang controlled and rats infested. Oh yeah, there are these very extremely annoying rats that scamper across nearly every level, nipping at your heels. I think they delt more combined damage to me than any enemy in the entire game. Very piss annoying. If you try to kill them, they'll respawn on you and come right back to chewing at your achilles.
Other areas you visit in the game include the bars, where you have to pay $10 to the trashtalkin' door man. The bars look very realistic, with glowing neon lights and dirty bartenders and their whores. Interestingly enough most of the business that goes on in the bar happens in the restrooms. I never get any information out of the people that actually drink and eat at the bar. I have to venture into the restrooms. Ugh. Speaking of restrooms, the graphics come through again in these levels, because they make the pee-pee closet foul. I can almost smell the horrible stench. I guess that's a tribute to how well the graphics are designed.
Overall, the level design was pretty descent. I enjoyed wandering the projects with my shotgun, blowing away every bum to jack his money. I felt like a real thug. I even hired a few hitman with me, even though I ended up killing them because I needed their ammo. They were really stupid and worthless anyway. One of my complaints about this game is that the computer hitmen characters that you hire are retarded. One would get stuck at the doorway, another wouldn't know how to climb stairs. It was a good idea, but just badly implemented by Xatrix.
The music in the game was supplied by Cypress Hill. It was pretty ghetto, and it fit into the game's theme very well. However, it was the same 3 or 4 tunes that I heard over and over again in the game. Soon, you learn to tune it out, and hardly pay any attention to it. Just like the cussin'. In the beginning, I thought it was pretty humourous to beat the crap out of some bum with my lead pipe while he cussed at me. Later on I just ignored them while I blew off their heads. In conclusion, towards the end of the game, I became desensitized towards what it had to offer in the beginning. But it may vary from person to person. This is just personal preference.
Since the game had to fit into the realistic world, you can't just find weapons lying around to be picked up. You have to either beat it out of your enemy, or buy it at the Pawn-o-Matic. The PoM is an original idea that gives me incentive to beat up innocent people for their money. You can buy ammo/health and all that good stuff at the PoM. However, let's say you cheat in the early levels for 500 bucks. You won't be able to buy the flamethrower in the first level because the PoM manager will just tell ya he's out of stock. That balances the game out and doesn't let you have weapons you're not supposed to have yet. But hey, if you cheated for cash, might as well cheat for the weapon anyway.
Multiplayer uses the Q2 engine, so setup is basically the same. You need a server to play on, and you'll lag if you're on a modem. Sad fact, but you gotta face it. 56K just doesn't cut it these days against someone with T1 Ethernet. I was actually eager to try it out at a recent LAN party I had with my friends, but most didn't have enough space on their computers to make it a viable option, so I had to romp around the levels all by myself. I'm no expert map builder, so I can't say the levels were built good or bad. All I can rely on are internet reports, and preliminary reports are that Kingpin is quite laggy. However, they include a new twist, called Bagman. In that game, you gotta steal as much money as possible for your gang, and you can also go rob the opponent gang's treasury. Sounds fun, but alas, I was unable to play it myself. Make your own decision on this subject matter.
To sum up a relatively boring game review, Kingpin offers what a solid 3rd person shooter should offer. Nice graphics, playablilty, and amusement. It's evolutionary to the gaming genre, but it falls short of revolutionary, a la Half-Life. Fun? Most definitely. I had a blast pretending I was a hardcore thug nigga'. There was even this one cutscene where I hitch-hiked a ride from some anonymous truck driver, and when he demanded payment that I owed him after the ride, I introduced my shotgun pellets to his face. Haha... I know, sounds very violent and stuff, but you'd laugh too if you saw the cutscene. =)
The best part was when I got to be the Kingpin. I beat down the fat black Kingpin boss and replaced him as top dawg surrounded with my own whores. I felt a sense of accomplishement that I had lived the American Dream, that I was able to rise from the sewer rats and take place as the most feared mobster in all of computer land. Let the cash flow baby! Yeah!
Final Grade: B+
The Scale is as follows: