Kingpin: Life of Crime is a 3D first-person action-adventure which starts with you having been beaten up beyond recognition and left for dead in a back alleyway. As you get to your feet and find a crowbar lying on the ground, your character vows to get his revenge on the “motherfuckers” who just beat you to a pulp, find out who’s behind it all and become the Kingpin yourself.
Imagine Quake II set in Moss Side or Brooklyn and with enough bad language to make the “Goodfellas” blush and you’re almost there. Add to this a pumping soundtrack from Cypress Hill.
From the creators of Redneck Rampage and set over 24 levels in 6 episodes, this is a game set in a realistic, urban setting. You have to get to know the population by communicating with them. Some will help, while others shoot first and ask questions later. You can watch enemies and allies with neural net-based AI as they behave like real humans, right down to displaying pity or vengeance, heroics or cowardice. Leaders coordinate large groups, and teams work together instead of shooting each other in the back. Items can be bought and sold through a system of pawnshops that set the street value for everything.
If you can find someone who’ll listen to you, you can hire a gang member to tag along and help you out. Some will cost more than others, but will they prove more effective? After hiring someone, you can even order them to target specific bad guys.
There’s two ways you can talk to people – in a positive way or a not-so-positive way. Most people respond better to the first way, especially if you want to get something out of them in return, although if all fails, you can try the alternative – it might work but I’m not promising anything. If you fancy a challenge, try walking up to a bunch of thugs who will tolerate your presence for a while, such as the three not-so-wise men on the first level. They won’t have anything pleasant to say when you’re nice, but try waving a gun about in their face, calling them a “motherfucker” and see how many seconds left you have to live…
In addition to all this, you can search dead bodies for cash – useful for your next trip to the Pawn-o-matic. Boxes get in the way sometimes and then can be pushed or pulled at your discretion. Watch out for certain ones as they may contain ammunition. Hack them apart and don’t shoot otherwise they’ll explode as will your ammo.
If you have internet or network access, there is a multiplayer death match option for up to 16 thugs.
The following lists just some of the options available within the game:
- Sound/Music Volume: adjust to suit your preferences, with CD music from Cypress Hill available on the game CD.
- Sound quality: Select between 11khz and 22khz depending on the strength of your machine.
- Mouse speed: The higher the speed, the faster your character will turn in relation to mouse movement.
- Always run: Set this to ‘Yes’ if you don’t fancy hanging about when the guns start blazing.
- Captions: When you chat with someone, this displays the dialogue at the top of the screen. Useful if gunfire is imminent and you can’t hear them.
- Fireworks: This alters the size of the fireworks. I have it set to maximum.
- Blood time: Set the length of time that blood remains onscreen.
- Key Layout: Customise the keys to your liking. This can also be done while playing the game.
Graphics, Sound and Playability
You must have a 3Dfx card of some description to play this game but you’ll reap the benefits. There are no FMV sequences since there’s no need – everything is rendered by your 3Dfx card and the closeups of people’s faces are quite extraordinary. Everyone is so detailed and an individual. It’s well worth studying the detail, even if they’ll swear at you as a result.
Each person has 15 specific and individual body parts which can be shot to pieces or just slightly wounded. After you’ve killed them, you can examine your handiwork and spot the exit wounds. As for the rest of the scenery, it looks astounding and sets the atmosphere extremely well. If you’re not wetting your pants when the bad guys come calling, you’re not human.
As mentioned before, the soundtrack comes courtesy of Cypress Hill to set the gangland-style ambience with boomboxes and clubs pumping out their music. Add to this gunshots, rocket launchers and the sound of flame-throwers causing direct pain to those all around you, plus the bad language whether it’s a mediocre but specific, “Die, Rat Fuck!”, or a more harsh, “Eat this, Motherfucker” and it all adds up to a lot of fun, especially since you can swear back at them.
I have zero complaints about the playability. You’ve played Quake II so you know what to expect – move fast, go anywhere, explore everything, push buttons to see what happens, shoot people and see the results. Just remember to save your position first before you do anything rash, since you don’t want to have to go back to square one.
Still can’t beat the bad guys? Load the game with the +developer 1 command line parameter. Then, press ` (the key under the Escape key) to display the console prompt and enter one of the following codes to activate the corresponding cheat function.
- Function – Code
- Toggle no clipping mode – noclip
- Play selected map1 – map
- All items, except cash – give all
- Bullets – bullets
- Shells – shells
- Gas – gas
- Full ammunition – give ammo
- Crowbar – crowbar
- Pistol – pistol
- Shotgun – shotgun
- Flame-thrower – flamethrower
- All weapons – give weapons
- Cash – cash
- Health – give health
- Key 1-10 – key1-10
- Coil – coil
- Watch – watch
- Battery – battery
There’s just a few things I have a small problem with but nothing too serious:
- After saving a game and restarting, the game ‘cheats’ and places you a second or two after the game was saved. Doesn’t sound like a major thing, but if you’ve saved the game mid-gunfight you could actually be dead when you re-load the game.
I found this happened for the first time when I was trying to kill the two men near the loud radio on the first level. Not an easy thing to do and not strictly necessary, but I killed one, then saved the game and promptly got shot dead by the other. I thought I’d try to manoeuvre past him, but when I loaded the saved position, I was instantly dead!
- The loading times are quite quick, but after saving a game and loading it back up for the first time after getting killed, the cursor onscreen is placed two positions earlier in the saved games list than it should be, so if you press ‘enter’ without thinking, you’ll soon be playing an earlier saved game, which can be frustrating.
- On a lighter note, if you jump to a higher position and then turn around to watch the hired henchman do the same, he looks like a deranged chimpanzee, swinging his arms about trying to jump up.
WARNING: Before you begin, I have to give you a warning – not for the language, but for the disruption your life is about to experience.
Firstly, on the day before you buy the game, get a good night’s sleep – it’s the last one you’ll have for a while. Then make sure you’ve paid your rent/mortgage for the next month, get all your household chores done, book some time off work (or fake a critical illness), then prepare to play, but only after you’ve written down the number of the local pizza delivery establishment near your PC as you don’t want to starve…
Kingpin combines the graphics quality and strategy of Quake II and the fun of Duke Nukem 3D. Overall, it manages to perfect the “can’t-get-anywhere-today-so-I’ll-try-again-tomorrow” element, in which it will frustrate you when you can’t do something, but will draw you back tomorrow for another crack at it, by which time you’ll have sussed out what do to.
This is my favourite game genre and, to save on the phone bills, I prefer a game with a story than an aimless multi-player deathmatch and Kingpin will not disappoint.
- Windows 95, 98 or NT
- Pentium PC 233 Mhz (PII 300 Mhz)
- 64Mb RAM (128Mb RAM)
- Quad-speed CD-ROM Drive
- 570Mb Hard Drive space
- 100% Microsoft Mouse or compatible
- DirectX-certified Sound/Video cards
- 3Dfx-capable graphics card
- Network and Internet play via TCP/IP
- Publisher: Interplay
- Players: 1
- Widescreen: No
- 60Hz: No
- DTS sound: No
Director: Drew Markham
Producers: Greg Goodrich and Drew Markham
Writers: Drew Markham and Steve Goldberg
Music: B-Real, Bobo, DJ Muggs and Sen Dog
Character Voices: Drew Markham
Female Voices: Tasia Valenza
Female Voices: Zeena Wild
Additional Voices: B-Real
Additional Voices: DJ Muggs
Additional Voices: Sen Dog
Additional Voices: Bobo
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.