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Kingpin: (http://www.xatrix.com/) / AntiGMan

"KingPin - Life of Crime" Alpha demo review
"Why must each of your sentences include the word "f*ck""?
"If you had fucking told me it disturbs you, I would've fucking shut up!"
("2 Days in The Valley")


 First, before you continue to read this article or rush to download something related, I wish to warn you about something. The KP: LOC Alpha demo is more "Alpha" than "Demo". It's full of bugs, It's not too playable on many machines, its' single player is not balanced, and multiplayer not supported directly (even if present). All this, along with the 100-odd MB download, make the alpha NOT worth your account time. HOWEVER, it does have the potential to make a great game in the future (perhaps, and you won't hear me saying that much, even better than Half-Life). Also, an updated version of the demo will be available to download soon enough. I'm aware this is the second time I'm telling you not to download something... but this time it's something really good, with some temporary shortcomings.

Xatrix is the developer of games like "Redneck Rampage" "Redneck Rampage rides again", and yes, unfortunately, "Redneck deer hunting" and even "Quake II mission pack: the reckoning". Xatrix made some (not too much, but some) mental advancement since those "Games" And made their role model out of this year's big winner, "Half-Life". Therefore, I must admit I was surprised at first when I heard of the release of the KP demo. KP has NOT been in development for as long as games like Daikatana (but that's not saying much, since Daikatana is.... Daikatana) or even the other noteworthy Q2 engine game, SiN. I could already see it while I was downloading: Redneck's Bubba returns, this time to the 40's, bringing with him packs of booze and chickens. However, despite that, I still wanted to download that 100MB demo. Why? That's a very good question.

Though gangster culture isn't one of my main interests (I'veneverseenthegodfather. Here, I've said it. Shoot me now). It sounded like a neat idea for a game, besides, I'm just a 1-st person shooter FREAK!

Break his legs, Tony

 So I downloaded and installed those 100Mb. And at first, at least, I was pleased. The game starts in a great "Your organs have been beaten way out of place, and you want revenge" cutscene (all cutscenes in the game, BTW, use the game engine). Two gangster guys tell the hero (no name, just "thug") to "Stay out of poisonville", and leave the scene. He responds silently with "I'm gonna get those two muthafuckers!", takes a led pipe, and transfers control to the player.

 The game control has some refreshing changes in the form of the chatting system, the inventory system, and various small but important features (activate, reload, holster, and sub-features they enable). The interaction with NPCs is even more detailed than in Half-Life, as in most cases, whether they are enemies or friends is decided by your actions. Attack them, and they'll attack back. Draw your weapon, and they'll tell you to stay away, and finally attack. Annoy them too much, and they'll attack. Pay them money, and they might actually give you something in return.

"Annoy them too much, and they'll attack"

 Talking with NPC's is done in what I'd like to call the "Fuck you, you fucking motherfucker" system (and hence the quote above). Actually, there's more to dialog than profanity (though it's ALWAYS there; you won't find a sentence without it). There are three chatting keys, which respond differently depending on who you're talking to. For most NPCs, one key is the "chit-chatting" key, where thug usually asks them if they know something, and another is the "bitching" key, where he throws amazing amounts of profanity at an incredible speed. If someone asks you a yes/no question, these keys will function as yes/no accordingly. That is, unless you can't answer "yes", ex, you don't have what they ask, at which case both will revert to "no". This system allows you to hire street-mercenaries, providing you have the currency (more on money later). Chatting with street mercenaries goes differently, as "yes" is "follow me", "no" is "stay here", and a third key is "attack this" after which you point at a target with your use key.

"pay them money, and they might actually give you something"

 Dollars are the game's currency, and have a small portion of the HUD dedicated to them. You pay to hire mercenaries, buy stuff from NPCs (the demo has only one such NPC) or equip yourself in the Pawn-O-Matic. Think of the POM as a your "Shekem" for armament. You can buy guns, ammo, gun-mods (see next paragraph) and health kits. Getting money is not easy. It's usually not lying around, and you'll have to either kill people for it, or find it in well-protected places (such as safes). You CAN complete the demo without having to go more than once to the POM, however you'll find it much more enjoyable to try all the treats in the demo (and besides, that money is not real, you shouldn't be cheap about it).

"Attack them, and they'll attack back"

 There's more to combat in KP than the simple run n' gun. But first, a quick rundown of the weapons: The pipe, which just screams "get a real weapon, and get it NOW!". The crowbar, which is about as effective as the pipe in face-to-face combat, however has advantages if you're able to sneak up on someone.
 The pistol has an interesting twist: the point of the hit is not based only on YOUR skill, but also on your character's skill. The more thug shoots, the better his aim. Also, the pistol has weapon mods - three cheap "add-ons" that improve your rate of fire (ROF mod), cut from the reload time (reload mod), or increase the weapon's power (magnum mod). There's also the silencer mod (the only one which is not permanent) that works in a similar fashion to its Q2 counterpart.
 Then there's the must-weapon - you guessed it, the Shotgun. It packs A LOT of firepower, and could usually take down an enemy with a shot. However, it's slow, worthless at long range combat, and you only have 5 shells to shoot before you need to reload. The shotgun will also have mods in the next demo.
 Last is the Flamethrower. While initially Xatrix defined it as a "secret" weapon, it's not very hard to find. Also, a last minute problem forced Xatrix to take the sounds out of the main Pakfile, so everyone knew what it was. The Flamethrower spreads fire across your screen, until you actually can't see anything. It'll burn any enemy after awhile, having them screaming in circles and waving their arms till they're pitch black. I didn't like it - it hogs my pc's resources, and will probably be a worse lagger in multiplayer the the hyperblaster, as the fire spewed from the weapon fills more and more of your screen while you keep the fire button pressed. Also, the amount of ammo needed to actually kill someone is exaggerated (while there is no need to reload) and player can also harm oneself.

Body movin'

 Like SiN and Half-Life, targeting in KP is area based. Meaning - hitting the head with the pistol is most useful, And pumping shotgun shells is usually more efficient the torso area. There are three main body areas - head, torso, and legs, and the readme states they divide into 15 (!) different parts. Shooting the weapon can actually make it fall (though I haven't seen this myself). Also, the skins change according to the hits they've taken, and you can clearly see when an enemy was hacked in the torso by a pipe. Another cool thing is that models can wear "add-on" models like hats.
 The greatest thing perhaps about modeling in KP is that they've taken that last-minute gesture idea from and turned it into a great way of matching the NPC's behavior. An NPC might pull his hands backwards and move his torso forward in the "Are you talking to me?" stance. The female model (referred to in game and by developers as "bitch") might lower her head and breasts and put her arms beside her pits as though she's teasing you (yeah, I know how all this stuff sounds, but I didn't take it from an erotic video). In general, characters in the game tend to be very "full" - male models are simply fat, and females have their weight in their breasts. There's no doubt about theaudience of this game - profanity, violence, and visual "enhancements" make it very, very clear.

Getting down with the downside

 The most popular complaint about KP was about the weirdness in its puzzles' structure. The game has two main puzzles (bring coil to POM, fix motorcycle) but also 7 (!) key puzzles. This is simply annoying. Another popular complaint was that interaction with NPC's just "ends" the closer you get to the end of the demo. They simply shoot you no matter if your gun is holstered or not, and that's a real demoralizer for players who want to take the less aggressive approach. The demo is relatively HUGE: you can (and need to) come back to point one even when you're about to finish it, and that creates a problem, mainly because there's only one POM. You'll have to do a lot of traveling, and that requires patience most players don't have, and loading times most machines have trouble handling. It's also not always easy to understand what the characters are saying. Though subtitles ARE present, they don't always reflect all that was said (actually, sometimes you only get the name of the wavfile!). Also, they are not present at all in cinematics, which are very important to understand the game's plot.

 As I've already mentioned, you'll need a super-machine to get the game working swiftly. Otherwise, you'll have to disable many of the graphic options, thus missing much of the game's atmosphere, or play the game in a very annoying way. For a really good performance, I'd recommend a PII-300, with AT LEAST 128 MB of RAM, and a good voodoo II card. The game will still get stuck very often, especially if you want to get some screenshots. I put the link only because of its relevance, but I honestly advise you to wait until a more stable version is out. You will not be disappointed.

AntiGMan


Downloads

  • Demo (104MB) - ftp://ftp.cdrom.com/.../demo/Kingpin_demo.exe
  • Also I advise you to check out http://www.gangland.org, and their great forums