by Robert Thomas
reviewed on PC
Vinnie Cannoli, Mob Enforcer
Zombies have overrun every conceivable genre of games over the past several years. Or have they? They've travelled through time, occupied Germany, and terrorized a slew of post-apocalyptic worlds. Yet there are still a few places where Zombies haven't reached, and the Claeys Brothers have taken advantage of this fact in Guns, Gore & Cannoli.
Set in the prohibition era of the 1920's, you play as mob enforcer Vinnie Cannoli who travels to Thugtown on the order of the Belluccio family to save a member of the mob. Vinnie's arrival coincides with an unfortunate zombies attack which delays but not does not deter him as he charges into Thugtown to take on all those who stand in the way of his task.
Vinnie Cannoli's mission takes him across the city, battling through zombies and enemy mobsters alike. The enemy variation in Guns, Gore, and Cannoli is wide, with many different enemies to keep you from getting too comfortable in Thugtown. You'll be attacked by football-player-zombies, gangsters with Tommy Guns, and evil rats. The game takes place across 12 levels that seamlessly blend together. Though the game can be beaten in a few hours, it has several difficulties to come back to for more challenge.
Guns and Gore
Guns, Gore, and Cannoli masters the basics of run-and-gun gameplay, but what it really excels at is translating the zombie experience to a side-scrolling perspective. Throughout the game, you'll almost always be swarmed by enemies. Zombies will walk, crawl, and run at you from both directions, creating a sense of panic within the player. A whole new dynamic is created when human enemies are added to the fray, since they use smarter tactics. They will occasionally offer some reprieve when they engage other hostiles, allowing Vinnie to wait his turn and attack after the battle, sweeping away the leftovers.
Like any good Mobster, Vinnie is no stranger to firearms. When the game starts he has his trusty pistol which has unlimited ammo but needs to be reloaded every 12 shots. Guns that are a little more appropriate for the situation can be found too, like a Tommy Gun and a Shotgun, both with limited ammo. When things get really dire, Grenades and Molotovs can be used to incinerate opponents. Every weapon you pick up, you keep, even when ammo runs out.
Up to four players can team up in the chaos and battle together. When a player dies, they respawn immediately so you can keep going as long as at least one player is still alive. The multiplayer is fun, but it's local only so you online friends are left out in the cold a bit.
The Jazz Age
The game's cartoony artwork uses heavy black lines on the outer edges, a perfect fit for its 2D world and a joy to behold. The smooth character animations, natural looking movements and explosive fire effects truly make the game feel like watching a living cartoon. And that's just what happens on the foreground - the background is heavily detailed and ties it all together wonderfully.
The game takes place in the Jazz Age, a fact the developers really brought to the fore by using a combination of jazz and Italian style melodies, reminiscent of the Godfather. The combination makes for a unique soundtrack that is not often heard in games. The music isn't the only thing escaping through your speakers. Vinnie loves dropping a few one-liners during enemy encounters and while these get a little repetitive after a while, good voice acting keeps them from becoming annoying.
All things considered, Guns, Gore, and Cannoli is a solid side-scrolling shoot-em-up, but it could have been a fantastic one. One of the hallmarks of all great shoot-em-ups is that they never break their fast pace. I ran into some frustrations moving up and down its many stairs that did just that. Instead of angling your movement to climb or descend stairs, you have to move forward and fall to go down or jump on the stairs to go up. It's an odd mechanic that requires some getting used to and hampers progress on occasion.
Outside of that, the game flows very well. The action is engaging and challenging, largely due to massive mobs and a versatile list of enemy types. If you can live with its admittedly minor flaws, this run-and-gun game is worth your time and money.
Fast paced side-scrolling action
Some issues going up and down stairs