Kingpin: Life of Crime
Games are for kids. It's an easy generalisation to make, and one glibly bandied about by the great unwashed to justify their ignorance of arguably the most advanced form of entertainment yet conceived. Historically, at least, it's a vaguely accurate accusation. However, the sweaty oiks shovelling ten-pence pieces into a Space Invaders machine in their lunch hour have long-since grown up; something that can't always be said for the games themselves, which often live up to their childish image. Some day a real game will come and wash all the scum off the streets...
Step forward Kingpin. Here is a game that would not take it any more. Whores, scum, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies. Sick, venal.
Keep It Real
If you've been hiding under a rock for the last couple of months or are simply a newcomer to the wonderful and frightening world of PC, here's the lowdown on the game they're all calling Kingpin: Life Of Crime. Using the Quake 2 engine, it eschews the contrived fantasy setting of many of its contemporaries in favour of gritty realism, the action taking place in the seedy underworld of organised crime. Much has been made of Kingpirfs real-world setting, and while this is certainly a commendable endeavour, it's worth pointing out that the game is by no means a documentary. Influences are many and varied, and have been taken from all walks of life, not least the home town of developers Xatrix, the plan at one point being to set the action in South Central LA Good artists borrow, great artists steal, and further inspiration has been gleaned from the films of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, no shirker himself when it comes to robbing ideas. And if we want to get all Barry Norman about it, there are numerous movie signposts to look out for, from The Hudsucker Proxy to Brazil to Blade Runner, via Trainspotting and Scarface. There's even a character lifted directly from The Big Lebowski.
However, Kingpin also doffs its cap to the old-school villainy of AI Capone and his cohorts, and has eventually mutated into some kind of alternate version of this century's past. Throw in a contemporary rap soundtrack - provided by Cypress Hill, no less - and what you have is effectively gangster meets gangsta.
I'm The Daddy Now!
Urban decay is rife, burned-out buildings scar the landscape, and vicious gangs rule the streets. Beginning as little more than a gutter punk, the idea is to rise to the top of the criminal ladder and eventually usurp the titular Kingpin. If you've ever seen the film Scum, it's a bit like becoming The Daddy. This can be achieved by a variety of means, most of which involve inordinate amounts of sickening violence. We re not easily r shocked here at PC, but the wanton brutality of Kingpin has been enough to raise the eyebrows of even the most battle-hardened reviewer. Make no mistake, this is adult material in every sense. Skulls are caved in, limbs are shot off, bodies are burned beyond recognition, and heads explode in an unabated orgy of bloodletting. And to top it all, the action is decorated with some of the most foul and abusive language this side of a Tourette's convention. Serious street slang is employed throughout, and barely a sentence passes that doesn't contain an example of industrial language at its most graphic. Shit, piss, cock, bitch, motherf**ker. We await the inevitable Daily Mail headlines with relish.'
It S Good To Talk
There is far more to Kingpin than a sanguine shooting gallery with swearing though, as it is actually a fairly sophisticated take on the 3D action game, incorporating elements of puzzle solving, exploration and adventure, at times even coming perilously close to RPG territory. Simply taking to your neighbours' heads with a lead pipe is no guarantee of success - although it is a lot of fun - and it can often be more beneficial to attempt some kind of conversation with the natives. This is where Kingpin's unique chat system comes into its own, offering three modes of approach. Which is essentially all any adventure game does, they just disguise it with wordy sentences. Positive, neutral and negative attitudes can be expressed, and success is dependent on a combination of who you're talking to, the situation and your respective weaponry.
Information can be gleaned at a price, and thugs can be hired to help out with the numerous rumbles. Performing various jobs enhances your criminal reputation and begins your ascent - or downward spiral - towards becoming the Kingpin. Character interaction plays a crucial part in many of them. For instance, one job involves cracking a safe. Two safe crackers are available, each offering their services for a different price. The cheaper one uses cruder methods and may attract attention, whereas the expensive one is an expert lock picker. Having hired one, you then have to lead him to the safe, take out any enemies and protect him while he gets the job done.
The game is spread over six episodes, each of which combines action and adventure in a ratio of roughly three to one, although this can vary depending on your approach. They each have a hub, where the Pawn-O-Matic weapon shop is located, with around four levels leading off it The episodes generally begin pensively, involving asking questions and gauging the lie of the land. Stealth plays its part -- there's even a sneak key -although running in like John Wayne can be equally effective. Eventually you begin to piss people off, and a climactic shootout becomes inevitable if you're to progress to the next stage.
Lock Stock & Barrel
At its core, Kingpin is still a traditional 'here's the key, there's the door'-type shooter. However, the keys have been disguised as objects more in keeping with the real world. For instance, giving a bottle of whisky to a tramp yields some information; learning the combination of a safe gives you access; or finding a battery enables you to start a motorbike and ride off to the next level. Health still comes in medical bags - although Xatrix did toy with the idea of having a doctor - and the game will be familiar territory to experienced action fans. For all its realism, it's still largely set in Warehouse World, littered with numerous piles of immovable crates. Whereas it may not advance the genre massively, it's still a superb take on the 3D action game, given gravitas by the adult nature and the superbly realised locations, evoking a real air of menace.
The Quake engine and its various modifications have effectively provided an industry standard for the 3D action game.
The technology is given; making it into a good game is down to the imagination and creativity of the developers. In fashioning an absorbing storyline and a believable world, Valve produced the masterpiece that is Half-Life. Conversely, Ritual went for all-out corny action with SiN, and Ion Storm are still labouring over the cod fantasy of Daikatana.
But in just over a year, Xatrix have managed to take the 3D action game in a different, more adult-oriented direction. If you've got a strong stomach and aren't offended by foul and abusive language, then Kingpin: Life Of Crime is a beautiful thing, and one which could open the floodgates for more adult games. In fact, the developers of the next Duke Nukem game have already thanked Xatrix for opening the door, which should bode well for the future.
Six Of The Best
Every episode has a boss - a crime boss. They're all underlings of the Kingpin, who you eventually meet up with in the last episode. Along with the crime bosses, each episode also has one predominant gang
EPISODE I - Skidrow
You've pissed off Nikki Bianco, and this alleyway is where you were dumped. The lowest of lowlifes abound, with the Sewer Rat and Scorpion gangs in a battle to control the turf. Expect an urban setting with lots of bumed-out buildings. In fact, put this month's cover CD in the drive and play the game, although bear in mind that it's an early alpha version.
EPISODE II - Poisonville
This is the place where all the toxics, caustics and solvents are made. There's perpetual acid rainfall, and the enemies are definitely more organised than Skidrow. Poisonville is run by Nikki Blanco, who is responsible for having you beaten to within an inch of your life at the game's outset. Expect an acid-scarred industrial setting. Residents of Ellesmere Port will feel at home.
EPISODE III - Steeltown
The headquarters of Moker steel. There are a lot of unfortunate souls who've been enslaved by Kingpin lieutenant Moker, and you have to liberate a number of them If you want to make it out alive. Expect a heavy industrial setting, with dark steel mills and smelting plants. The developers even watched The Full Monty to get a flavour of the beautiful city of Sheffield.
EPISODE IV - Radio City
Big city, bright lights. Now that you've disrupted his chemical and steel supplies, the Kingpin wants you six feet under, and there are plenty of volunteers in Radio City. Watch out for the Freqs, fanatical religious freaks who obey only the commands of their deadly leader Blunt. Expect a Blade Runner-esque cityscape, with a nod towards both New York and Gotham City.
EPISODE V-The Wharf
Once you're out of Radio City you need to track down the Kingpin's master weapons maker and designer, Dr Zighled Heilman. His design and manufacturing lab is reputed to be hidden somewhere near the Radio City wharf. Expect a dark and dangerous wharf area with loads of boats and stuff - a bit like Portsmouth on a Friday night.
EPISODE VI - Crystal Palace
This is It: the Kingpin's headquarters at Selhurst Park, South London, a venue shared by Wimbledon FC. You first need to make your way through a series of elevator shafts to get to the final battle in the Kingpin's penthouse, which is packed with his best soldiers and a few other surprises, making for an epic Scarface-style showdown. Expect a lavish, art deco, gothic setting, proof that crime does pay.
BAN THIS SICK FILTH!
Will the British Board Of Film Censors (BBFC) allow us to see the 'full-on' Kingpiii?
The game reviewed here Is the full, unexpurgated version of Kingpin, as the developers Intended It and, in any well-ordered society, as it should be released. However, whether this version actually appears on the shelves in the UK remains to be seen, as the notoriously Inconsistent BBFC have yet to cast their censorial eyes over the content.
Kingpin makes no pretence to being a family game, and the potential is clearly there for some kind of misguided moralistic stance to be taken. It has already been configured to appear differently when running under French or German versions of Windows (although it's hardly going to take a degree In computer science to change It to US Windows), and It's to be hoped that the same thing doesn't happen here. We certainly don't want another Carmageddon on our hands. So when the pious twats at the BBFC are considering their decision, they should perhaps bear in mind that on Easter Sunday Channel 4 screened Reservoir Dogs uncut, thereby enabling children of all ages to witness sickening acts of violence, culminaUng In a policeman having his ear sliced off and being doused In petrol.
Because Kingpin is a game, the attitude seems to be that young minds will be warped. Kingpin Is aimed solely at adults, who should be given the freedom of choice to decide what they play in the privacy of their own homes.
Tools R Us
If you're going to kill people mercilessly, you're going to need some weapons. These can either be found lying around on the ground, fleeced from the twitching corpses of your victims, or bought at the Pawn-O-Matic weapons shop, of which each level has one. Modifications can also be bought for some of the weapons, increasing their capacity for slaughter. Here's a look at part of Kingpin's armoury
LEAD PIPE Mods: None
The default weapon - and one that should be familiar to fans of Cluedo - It's only a marginal improvement on using your bare hands. While It's not the best for inflicting damage, it comes in handy for breaking down fences, opening crates, and other chores where you don't want to waste valuable ammunition. With Its short length, you need to keep moving If you plan to use it in a fight. If your opponent isn't carrying a gun, you can inflict enough damage with the lead pipe to kill or at least seriously mame.
CROWBAR Mods: None
Clearly a 'tribute' to Hatt-Ufe, the crowbar can be bought early on in the game. A marked improvement over the lead pipe, it offers extended reach and also does twice the damage. Again, it's also useful for breaking fences and so forth, as well as Its more gruesome function of bludgeoning people to death in cold blood. If you can't find or afford a gun, then the crowbar is the best bet to give you a fighting chance.
SHOTGUN Mods: None
A step up from the pistol, at close range It's usually enough to blow an arm or leg off your target, or put them down for good. As powerful as It Is, the shotgun has two negative features: a long reload cycle, and a very wide spread at long range. These two factors make the shotgun a good weapon to give you stopping power at close range, where things can get really nasty, but not at medium to long range.
TOMMY GUN Mods: None
The quintessential gangster weapon. As shouty punks The Clash sang: "Tommy gun, you ain't happy unless you got one..."This automatic machine-gun spits out lethal .45 calibre bullets at a high rate of fire, mowing down anything in your path. It's the most powerful lead-shooter in the game, and can cut through a crowd like they were made of warm butter. However, the Tommy gun isn't very accurate at long range. It still brings someone down, but you get better results at medium to close range.
HMG Mods: Cooling Jacket (full clip firing without downtime)
The heavy machine-gun fires high muzzle velocity .308 rounds In bursts of three shots. There's approximately a 1.5-second downtime between bursts to cut down on weapon damage due to overheating. Simply put, this beast can drop Just about anything in its tracks. It's deadly accurate at long range, making it Ideal for picking off thugs before they see you coming. The 1,5-second delay between bursts Isn't much of a factor, since anyone who absorbs all three rounds won't be bothering you any more.
BAZOOKA Mods: None
The bazooka fires a flaming projectile that inflicts incredible damage upon Impact, throwing shrapnel in all directions. It obliterates just about any target As bad as being hit by the actual projectile can be, being inside the blast radius is no picnic either, the splash damage area proving powerful enough to kill most enemies outright.
FLAME-THROWER Mods: None
Shoots a deadly fiery liquid that sticks to anything it comes into contact with. Once on fire, the target bums for several seconds, and continuous damage will be inflicted during that time, while they run around screaming like the demons of hell. If the target can escape, the flames eventually go out. Although the flamethrower is an intimidating weapon, your target is able to fight back while on fire, so move in for the kill with another weapon to finish the job.
Download Kingpin: Life of Crime
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Apparently, there's nothing quite like a game where you can use a flame-thrower on someone and hear their screams as their flesh singes. I'm an advocate of the painless way myself. If you are too, read on to complete the game without getting hurt.
Smash the fence boards, go down the steps and collect the pistol and ammo. Walk until you find Leroy and the woman beneath the first set of stairs, kill them, collect the cash and buy the crowbar from the fat guy. Go to the warehouse. Wait until the radio distracts the guards, then kill the guy by the safe, take the whisky, the flashlight and the money. Smash the box and vent, go through to storeroom A, kill the guard and move the crates until you can reach the upper vent.
Take the sewer to the right and keep walking until you find the storeroom. Kill everyone inside, take the goodies and move the crate to reach the shotgun on the shelf. Find your way through the sewers to the stairs leading up, and get out.
Leave the sewer by the first-right exit, kill the man and his rabid dog and take his watch. Pay to get into the bar and talk to the fat bloke in the bathroom who gives you a key in exchange for the watch. Leave the bar and head for the tall building (you can find it by going straight ahead at the beginning of the map). Go through the roof access door and climb to level four, then walk across the plank to the other roof. Use the key to get into a small storeroom, climb the boxes and smash the vent to get through to the three thugs you saw arguing in the earlier cut-scene. Kill them and turn right down the corridor to find some money in a fridge in one of the rooms. Head towards the exit sign at the end of the corridor, smash the boards and open the door.
Jump down the broken staircase, go through the only door that opens and enter the other building further down the alley. Inside, take the door to the left at the end of the corridor, climb the stairs, go through the window on the right-hand side and walk round the ledge to the other window. Activate the switch in the room, jump back out, re-enter the building and go through the door the switch has just unlocked.
Walk down until you kill a dog, smash the boards on the window and jump through. Enter the door in the fence, walk into the wooden house and through the door.
Shoot every poor canine in sight until you come to an open junkyard full of stacked cars. Jump to the top of the last pile on the right to find a battery. Now make your way back to the garage next to the bar, shifting a healthy number of overweight goodfellas while you're at it. Jump onto the motorbike and watch yourself do a cool wheelib.
Get into Club Swank round the back and talk to Louie (the fat bloke upstairs). Choose one of the safe-crackers (Fingers is the sneaky one while Buster is the demolitions expert) and go to the safe. You need to go up in the lift, through a courtyard, past a power generator and up and down the stairs till you find it. It's important to look after your safe-cracker: the best thing to do is tell him to wait in a safe place, go ahead and kill everyone and come back for him. Find the key to the power generator in the safe room. Tell your henchman to wait there while you go to the electric room (close to the power generator) and turn off the switch to deactivate the electric fence around the safe. Back in the safe room, press 'Q' on the cracker and then *F on the safe. Once your safe-cracker has done his bit, collect the papers and return them to Louie in the bar. Get the key from him, hire some more people if you want, and make your way to the production facility round the back of the bar.
Smash through the first air vent you see to take you to the small storeroom where you find two fuses. Make your way round the level until you find a big pump, and insert the fuses in the two panels by its side. The acid will be drained from where you started the level. Down there you find the corpse who had been sleeping with the fishes (acid-resistant fishes, of course) and take the key. This opens the door next to the newly acid-filled vault. Press the switch inside for a bridge which takes you across the acid. Press a small red switch to go up another lift. Press another switch, go down to the pool of acid and jump to the other side. Make your way to the end of the level, where a flame-throwing boss awaits.
Jump in the water to find a stiff wearing the proverbial concrete footwear and hit him with the crowbar until you get the key. Climb up the ladders following the signs to the bar and use the key to get into the building opposite.
In the bar, go to the bathroom and get a key from one of Willie's thugs. He then follows you to find Lizzie, who's in the warehouse at the start of the level. Use the key to get in and take her head. Show it to Willie in the toilet, who gives you another key and joins your party. Use this key to open the door near the ladders.
Couldn't be simpler. Keep going past the truck, through the doors and up the stairs until you reach a big ship (Das Boot). Kill everyone in sight, and a door opens. You know what to do with it.
Another simple one, if you're tough enough. Get into the engine room by using the oil can from the storage room on the door. If you're wondering why there's so much armour lying about, it's because you'll need it. Another boss awaits at the end. Which is nice.
Talk to the bartender in the boiler room, who then sends you on a mission to get her kidnapped brother. Go out and keep walking until you can open a door (marked 'Moker's Steel'). Keep going until you reach a vat of lava, which you need to raise by pressing the red switch next to it. It's the usual massacre until you come to David, an unarmed bloke in a small room. Go back to the bar (it doesn't matter whether he lives or dies) and get the key from the barmaid. Use it to get into the office (another steel door marked 'Moker'). Go downstairs, blow up the barrels to smash down the walkway and jump over the lava vat.
Just get in there and kill the boss. This one's armed with a rocket launcher, so don't stand still for a second.
This one actually has a puzzle element. Use the valve handle in between the last carriage and the one next to it. This detaches it clearing the way down the tunnel. Go down it until you find a spare handle. Head back and go through the valve-activated doors through the sewers until you find a valve with no wheel on it. Use the one you found and go through the East D51 door below you.
Go down the tunnel and climb up the two sets of ladders. Go left across the bridge, run into a crevice if the train comes and jump out into the water at the other side. Climb up, move the crate to climb up the ladders and make your way through by activating switches.
Go up to the train control booth and move the switch on the right to open a tunnel you can go through. Enter one of the doors on the left, climb up the ladder and activate the switch on the right. Go back out and through the doors directly ahead, which you can now open.
Radio City Station
Go up the escalator and talk to the two tough guys. They let you join their gang if you kill three idiots down in the sewers with nothing but your crowbar. Go left from the escalator and into a room. Press the little blue button to let you into the sewers. Be careful with the train. You can use a pistol with a silencer instead of a crowbar as it makes the same amount of noise. Once you've killed all three, make your way back to the gang who joins you. Go up the stairs to the right from the elevators.
Enter The Dragons
Walk round the street, keeping to the right until you come to a dead end with three fire escape ladders. Take the one furthest away, climb onto the railing at the top and then onto the roof of the building. Keep walking until you come to a fork. Go down the right until you see a switch on the wall and use it, then go back and head down the left along the catwalks. You can go through the door the switch has just opened. Walk to the end of the bridge, activate the switch, jump down to the street and go through the newly opened door.
Streets Of Fire
Watch out for the guy shooting from above. Take everyone out and walk to the end of the street past Hopper's Cafe Bar. Go through the door, climb upstairs to the roof and go up the billboard ladder. Jump to the higher roof and then across onto the balcony on the other side of the street, through the bit where the railing is missing. Go to the left until you come to a water tower. Jump down to a platform with a switch on it and activate it. Cross the bridge that comes down and carry on to the left until you find an elevator.
Go down the tunnel to your right and climb the first stairs you come to. Keep going until you come to the Typhoon Bar. At the back of the bar there's a bloke selling tram tickets for $50. Buy one and head back out. Go past the phone booth (answering the phone brings a nasty surprise). Use the ticket to get past the door, jump onto the railing and from there into the tunnel.
Kill everybody in front of the Central Towers doors to get in. The first of the final bosses is waiting inside. Press the lift buttons and enter the right one when it opens. Do the Rambo impression again and enter the left lift. Kill the dog behind the bars. The stairs on the left lead to loads of ammo and armour, so stock up before going down the right set of stairs. Mow down the waves of suited thugs and various Rottweilers. Now it's time for the big one. The woman is impossible to kill, so just concentrate on the Kingpin. Once he's dead she escapes and the city is yours. Result!
What we thought
"Xatrix have managed to take the 3D action game in a different, more adult-oriented direction."
What you think
- "As for it supposedly bringing PC games onto a new, more mature level - well, if you think Chubby Brown is mature and adult for the sole reason that every second word is blue, then I suppose so. Having said that, not a bad first-person shooter/RPG, but ultimately no more than a Quake II total conversion with nipples."
- "I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that Kingpin is complete rubbish. The graphics are OK, but nothing special. The levels are so unoriginal, I feel I have played the game before. I buy about two games a month and have never disagreed with any one of your reviews in the last three years, but you got this one very, very wrong guys."
- "I think Kingpin has to be one of my most played first-person shooters. The single-player mode is excellent, and the multiplayer's cool. The review was spot on. Xatrix know their games."
After playing it all the way through, I have to say Kingpin Isn't the most involving or innovative game ever. However, the man Brooker has done the same and strongly disagrees. So who's right? Neither, of course, it's a matter of opinion. And his is wrong. Which is why it's got rave reviews from all the other mags, gone to the top of the charts and made children in playgrounds everywhere spend days calling each other motherf*****s.
Arriving So Soon after the genre-defining Half-Life, history may judge Kingpin harshly. Largely renowned for pioneering use of foul and abusive language, as well as unprecedented levels of violence, it would be easy to dismiss it as an exploitative, linear first-person shooter. That would be doing it a disservice though, as there is much here to recommend. The swearing is in keeping with the faux-gangster setting, the bloodletting is extreme enough to make you question your motives, and the graphical style evokes a particularly squalid atmosphere.
There are some satisfying weapons available, including the superb Return To Castle Wolfenstein. Some effort is made towards character interaction, with sidekicks available for hire, and while it doesn't work perfectly all the time, it is far from unmanageable. The action kicks along at a fair pace, augmented by the stoner beats of Cypress Hill, and it's simply a fun experience, be it coshing a tramp to death with an iron bar, or trading obscenities with a prostitute.
There is still a reasonable online multiplayer scene, but the single-player game alone is worth five quid of anyone's money, and Kingpin is among the handful of games that I've actually completed more than once. Praise comes no higher.
Lift on the streets ain't easy or pretty. The world of Kingpin is filled with dilapidated buildings, trash-can fires, rumbling city trains, hallways filled with garbage, and streets drenched in blood. It's a world where business meetings arc held in mens rooms instead of board rooms and you're only as strong as the weapon you carry. And don't expect honor among thieves; riicy'll shoot you in die back for a dollar, so don't be afraid to sneak tip behind an enemy and knock them out then search the body for loose change.
As you travel the streets on a quest for gangland revenge, the tattooed punks of Kingpin will converse with you, fiftht amongst diem selves, seek cover behind nearby debris, attack immediately if you coinc at them with a raised weapon, and, if hired, work as your personal bodyguards. Injured characters leave a trail of blood behind as they walk, and the less-than-polite folks you meet pick wedgies out of their butts in the middle of a conversation.
If the game's gore doesn't shock you, the profanity sure will. The street thugs are fluent in four-letter words and will utter them at every possible occasion. If Palfj Fiction singed your ears, you won't last five minutes with these raunchy ruffians. Its murder most foul-mouthed.
The demo featured a few infectious beat loops by Cypress Hill and the tight, customizable controls that gamers have come to expect from the Quake II engine.
Like Half-Life, Kingpin offers a complete, palpable atmosphere in which to get lost. The game's unique look and controversial content are sure to make it one of the year's most talked-about games.