At the back end of 2015, Crazy Monkey Studios delivered a bit of a shock with the release of Guns, Gore and Cannoli. Telling the tale of Vinnie Cannoli, a mobster on a mission, this fast paced platformer set in the 1920s delivered one hell of a fun experience. With action that was hugely over the top, the inclusion of some rather delightful visuals which allowed for every minute detail to be taken in, and enough humour and reference to keep dragging us back, the mafia versus zombies gameplay was a delight.
It wasn’t without issue, but for the most part any slight niggles could be glazed over as the charismatic, one-lining Vinnie made his way through Thugtown. Now though Crazy Monkey Studios are back, and three years down the line we see a release of Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2. Does it have the same appeal as first time around?
Well yes it does, and whilst the gameplay is very similar, there are plenty of decent little additions that should ensure the next chapter of Vinnie Cannoli’s life is one that you will want to take in.
This time round we find the 1920s a distant past and 15 years have gone by since we were helping Vinnie survive the Thugtown Massacre. Once more though the story that pushes things along is an intriguing one and from the very first moments which see our favourite mob boss tied up for interrogation purposes, right through to the end of the tale, there are twists and turns at a variety of points along the way. You won’t find me spoiling them here but just be sure that taking in the cutscenes and listening in to the wise cracking protagonist at all times is an essential part of the immersion found in Cannoli 2.
Much like previously, the style in which this tale is told is a brilliant one. Visually we find a slight cartoony take to all of the characters that you will come across, with different gangster – and Nazi – types well defined and super easy to make out. The zombies which Vinnie finds himself up against are also superbly well created and from the fast to the slow, the big to the small, each comes with a brilliant graphical look – and a unique way in their attack. In fact, I absolutely adore the style that Crazy Monkey have gone with in both the original game and this one.
Even the levels themselves are well created affairs, with plenty of platforms to hit, tunnels to roll through, and just enough verticality to ensure you aren’t left with a boring old left to right run and gunner. There is a decent degree of destruction thrown in too. The inclusion of destructible vehicles, buildings and more, with delicately placed exploding barrels, means you’ll need to consider stopping the usual spray and pray approach for a more tactical look at the action. Each and every level of Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2 delivers a stunning 1940’s feel – from the cars, the speakeasy clubs, and the streets themselves, it drops you right in to the time period beautifully. The music is equally as good and even though this side of the audio may get overlooked in favour of the utterly immersive humour and script, it is yet again a decent component that allows the whole game to thrive.
The ragdoll physics that accompany each and every death are also well implemented and as you find Vinnie’s arsenal expanding, will get the opportunity to fire enemies from pillar to post with all manner of awesome weaponry. Thankfully the control scheme that is in place allows all of this to come across in a super smooth manner. See, Vinnie has had a bit of an upgrade in the 15 years since we last saw him and now the shooting aspect comes with a proper 360 degree field of vision, allowing you to pinpoint exact shots should you so wish. It doesn’t work perfectly every time, and the auto aiming that helps this adventure move along at such a decent pace is sometimes a bit too much, but on the whole you can decide how you wish to play Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 – fast and manic, or slow and precise.
Sometimes you won’t get the option though, and there are a number of points throughout this tale which see you needing to do nothing less than pulling the trigger as hard as possible, and running as fast as you can. Double jumping, rolling, kicking and getting a shift on like your life depends on it is occasionally the way to go, but mixing up the speed of the gameplay really ensures that you’ll never get tired of what is to come.
The length of the tale is just about right too, and whilst much of the action will be seeing you helping Vinnie pick off minions, the occasional end of stage boss brings yet another dimension to the action. These aren’t ever difficult to beat, and much like the standard gameplay, once you fail once, you’ll quickly understand what is needed to progress, but they are well created fights nevertheless. If they do anything, at the very least they help the narrative move on another level.
And once you’re done with battling through and ensuring that Vinnie Cannoli is still thought of as the top dog, you can do it all over again with mates via the online and local cooperative modes. The local coop works well, but on a personal level I have found the most joy taken in by having some one-to-one time with Cannoli. It lets you play the game the way you want to, instead of being rushed through by others. With 17 chapters though, and 4 different difficulty levels on each, the chance for the odd helping hand is a good one.
The online opportunities are a bit of an issue though and constant connection errors have obviously held back the Cannoli family from finding a presence on the online scene. There is just about always a chance to try and play through this story with a stranger from somewhere else on planet Earth, but connecting to them is an entirely different prospect – one that rarely ever works. It’s a shame, but much like mentioned above, Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 certainly feels complete enough as a solo experience.
If you hadn’t guessed already, I’ve been rather taken in by the world of Vinnie Cannoli once more. The development team have ensured that they’ve kept everything that was good about the first game – the visuals, the humour, the immersion – and dropped in just enough little enhancements to allow for this to stand prouder than its older sibling; the new 360 degree shooting aspect alone helps tremendously in this. There are still the odd problems, and at the end of the day the entire thing can turn into a mindless shooter due to the lack of intelligence from any foe, but that’s not always a bad thing. The weapon selection wheel is a bit clogged up too, with a multitude of weapon types that sees it tricky to pick an exact one when the action is really hitting the fan. It may well have worked better with less options in the firing department, but on the whole, just when you thought you were done with Vinnie Cannoli and the Thugtown Massacre, Crazy Monkey Studios have pulled one out of the bag and delivered another brilliant platformer.
War is hell – unless you’re Vinnie Cannoli. In which case it’s just a delightfully humorous killing experience!