Kingpin: Life of Crime (PC) Review

By Athanasios 23.05.2019

Review for Kingpin: Life of Crime on PC

It's 1999; a year from a decade that older gamers will remember from how, whenever their favourite past time would be mentioned on TV, it wouldn't be to say anything good about it, with Doom, Carmageddon, and Mortal Kombat being the usual suspects. Undoubtedly, Kingpin: Life of Crime didn't exactly help in putting out the flames. Violent, foulmouthed, and unabashedly immoral, Xatrix Entertainment's creation had you playing a bad guy, who wanted to kill other bad guys, in a city that makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like the Shire. Take a look at it, 20 years after it first hit the few shelves that accepted it, in Cubed3's retrospective review.

Kingpin: Life of Crime begins in a quasi-retro, urban dystopia, where imposing art deco structures have been mixed with a gritty, '80s industrial look. The protagonist, a thick-necked tough guy, and muscle for the local crime boss, the titular Kingpin, has been beaten to a pulp, by other thick-necked tough guys, on behalf of one of Kingpin's thick-necked flunkies, leading to the first problem with this: a main character that's hard to get invested with. The problem isn't the fact that you are one of the bad guys, but how you are just another bad guy. You don't stand out from the rest. You are just... there.

Yes, to be perfectly honest, that's what Kingpin is all about: you are a bad guy, in a bad city, and are free to do lots of bad things - but seeing your avatar brutally murder a truck driver after the ride he offered to you, for example, kind of crosses the line between 'badass anti-hero on the path to revenge,' and 'despicable piece of horse-dung.' Of course, some won't mind that. True, this was obviously aimed at those who wanted a raw, "gangsta" approach to world building. In that regard, it's somewhat easier to accept Kingpin's completely immoral nature. Truth be told, however, that isn't its only problem.

Screenshot for Kingpin: Life of Crime on PC

In terms of atmosphere, the Quake II-powered decadent city you'll roam on looks great. The visuals do show their age, especially when it comes to character models, and the overuse of brown gets boring very soon, but, generally, this will manage to make you feel as if you are truly walking the darkest alleys of a Frank Miller-crafted Gotham. Once your foes start talking, though, things will get a bit... cringy. NPCs, as well as the main hero, swear. A lot. That's not a bad thing per se, yet it happens so often that it borders on ridiculous, as F-bombs get thrown literally all the time. Why all this talk about story and atmosphere, though? Isn't this just another "shoot everything that moves" FPS?

This is in no way a Deus Ex-like RPG, but it's not a pure shooter either... at least, it pretends that it isn't. Acting as a sort of adventure-lite, this has the player talking with people to gather clues, and taking on missions which will get you a little bit closer to the big cheese who runs the show - nothing fancy, though, just simple stuff like "kill X," or "find Y." Don't expect any well-written dialogue, as well. You get close to an NPC, and then that NPC starts talking, with you only being able to answer with a generic positive or negative response. The whole thing can be mildly interesting in the beginning, immersive even, but if in need for a great action-adventure, seek elsewhere.

Screenshot for Kingpin: Life of Crime on PC

It would be acceptable if the adventuring was just average, but it can also get irritating from time to time, with the best example being the very first level, which, rather than easing you in, by acting as a tutorial of shorts, it frustrates you by not explaining much, and leaving you to do some good 'ol trial-and-error, and die multiple times, or lose precious resources while at it, whether that's money, ammo, or, more importantly, health. Unfortunately, even after understanding what needs to be done, and in what order, the experience doesn't improve much. Why? Because of the second half of Kingpin: Life of Crime, the actual shooting business.

Anyone who has played even a single FPS from the '90s, won't have any problem adjusting to the controls. Everything works as intended... but it's not fun. First of all, the action is extremely repetitive. Your enemies carry pistols, shotguns, rifles, and, occasionally, flamethrowers and rocket launchers, but, as a whole, they all feel as if you are facing the same enemy again and again. There's a reason why first-person shooters which aren't grounded in "realism" tend to be more enjoyable, and that's because it's much easier for them to include a far more varied cast of baddies, who do more than just shoot at you with a gun.

Screenshot for Kingpin: Life of Crime on PC

Repetitiveness one can handle. What about aggravation, though? The second issue with in here is that 99% of foes are hitscanners that shoot the exact moment you dare showing your ugly face, which leads to many encounters leaving you lethally hurt, forcing you to spam-save your way towards the end - and if that wasn't enough, apart from a few goons right in the beginning, most enemies turn out to be annoying bullet sponges that need vast amounts of lead to go down. It's possible to recruit some muscle of your own to help you out, and they do help out despite their, otherwise, moronic AI, but this doesn't improve things that much.

In conclusion, Kingpin: Life of Crime isn't an adult game. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an adult game. This is just a subpar FPS/Adventure hybrid with tons of profanity, which lets you brutally murder everyone you meet, enemy or not. It had its charm back in 1999, especially when it came to its visual quality, and having the chance to play the criminal has always been a guilty pleasure for many a gamer, but, in all honesty, others have pulled that off a lot better. What's that? Some words about the OST by Cypress Hill? What OST? Oh, you mean that extremely short, and annoyingly repetitive breakbeat loop that bops along this 15-hour ordeal?

Screenshot for Kingpin: Life of Crime on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


Apart from the, almost childish, overuse of the most famous four-letter word (it's not 'food'), Kinpin: Life of Crime does indeed has a decent atmosphere, as it manages to transport players into its dirty metropolis - but atmosphere can't save what is essentially a subpar FPS, masquerading as a mediocre adventure. Want to play the criminal? Play GTA instead.






First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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