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Guns, Gore & Cannoli

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: Crazy Monkey Studios
Release Date: April 30, 2015

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Guns, Gore & Cannoli'

by Brian Dumlao on April 30, 2015 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Set against the gangster heyday of the roaring twenties, Guns, Gore & Cannoli is a non-stop, action-packed, completely over-the-top platform game.

Like robots and aliens, you can put zombies in any location and any time period, and it can be easily explained away. They can travel through time in Plants vs. Zombies 2, overrun Germany during World War II in Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army, and they even wield jetpacks in the expansions for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. There are still a few places where they haven't reached, and the Claeys Brothers have taken advantage of this fact in Guns, Gore & Cannoli.

The game is set in the 1920s in the middle of the Prohibition Era. You play the role of Vinnie, a mob enforcer who's been hired by the head of the Belluccio family to bring in one of their own from Thugtown, which has been overrun by a zombie infestation since St. Patrick's Day. Of course, you don't know this until you show up to collect your bounty. You make your way through Thugtown, blasting down any zombie and rival mob hitman that stands in your way.

The gameplay is most comparable to Metal Slug. The game is a side-scroller, and you blast everyone in your path. Body shots work well, but just like any other shooting game, headshots work best in taking out enemies quickly. You face a variety of zombie types, from standard walkers to rushers that can absorb more damage before going down. There are football players that rush you at a faster speed, and some zombies spew toxic gas. Zombies also have weapons of their own, from pistols to machine guns and meat cleavers to wooden barrels. There are also other enemies to contend with, like army personnel, rival mobsters and giant rats.

Like any good hitman, you're not defenseless. You've got a standard pistol that has unlimited ammo but needs to be reloaded every 12 shots. You also have grenades and Molotov cocktails at your disposal, though they are in limited supply. Along the way, you pick up some period-authentic pieces like pump-action and double-barrel shotguns. Revolvers and Tommy Guns are also at your disposal, as are more heavy-duty weapons, like rocket launchers and flamethrowers. All of the weapons you pick up have limited ammo, but unlike other games, where you pick up one weapon and drop another, you'll keep everything you pick up, even if the ammo goes dry. You'll also be able to switch weapons at any time, if the situation calls for it. If you want to conserve ammo, you can utilize your kick to break down doors and knock back foes.

Guns, Gore & Cannoli masters the basics of run-and-gun gameplay, what it really excels in is translating the zombie experience to a side-scrolling perspective. None of the foes go down with one hit, and the mob mentality is firmly in place when fighting the undead. With a few exceptions, there's rarely a time when you encounter one or two zombies shambling toward you. You always encounter the zombies in groups, and walkers are mixed in with more difficult zombies, making gunplay tight since they often try to overwhelm you with numbers. It gets a little hairier once you fight humans, since they know to run from grenades and Molotov cocktails. The only comfort you have is that different enemy groups engage in combat with each other, so you can let the rats go after the gangsters first before mopping up the rest.

The title also comes in at just the right length. There are roughly 12 levels, and each one feels sizeable. You never notice the separation until you go to the chapter selection screen and see your progress. It can be finished in an afternoon if you're dedicated, and the unlimited lives mean it's a little easier to get through the game. It seems that any more levels would make it feel like the experience is dragging on. There are at least four difficulty levels and a number of Achievements, and while it would have been nice to see a scoring or leaderboard system in place to promote repeated playthroughs, the experience is enough to make you play more than once.

Topping this all off is the fact that the game can be played on co-op. Up to four players can team up in the mayhem, each one controlling his/her own gangster in a different colored suit. Though the game doesn't feature drop-in/drop-out multiplayer, it allows for fallen players to immediately respawn as long as one other player is alive. It doesn't force you to stick together, as separated party members immediately spawn close to a party member. The multiplayer is fun, but it's local only, so those with friends in different locales won't be able to enjoy this feature.

There are some gameplay annoyances. Vinnie is pretty mobile since he can run and gun, but he doesn't know how to shoot up. Playing around with the firing times when you duck and stand can help you angle your shots, but unlike most other run-and-gun protagonists, you don't have the ability to shoot straight up. Vinnie also has some trouble dealing with stairs, as you can't just angle your movement to climb or descend them. Instead, you have to move forward and fall if you want to go down or jump on stairs if you want to go up. You'll get used to it in time, but it's quite odd. Also, the game sometimes has a problem with letting projectiles fall through solid objects, so you'll sometimes see leprechaun smoke bombs go through roofs or your grenades pass right through small ledges.

Graphically, Guns, Gore & Cannoli is quite good thanks due to the art style. It's similar to games like Randal's Monday or cartoons like "Family Guy," with thick black lines bordering bold colors, and it stands out perfectly in a 2-D world. For the most part, animations are smooth, but there are some stilted moments during some transitions, and the limb movement in some cut scenes looks suspect. There aren't too many particle effects in play, but they're done nicely, and like burning enemies look pretty good. The only issue seen has to do with the frame rate, which can slow down on rather powerful hardware due to the combination of smoke and enemy movement. It doesn't happen too often, but it mars an otherwise pleasant experience.

As far as audio goes, it also does a good job. The guns give off a nice boom, and the rest of the sound effects are also spot-on. For some reason, kicking an enemy produces no effect, so your feet feel less impactful. The voice work is fine, but there is some repetition. It doesn't take long before Vinnie starts spouting the same lines upon killing people or eating a cannoli, but at least the delivery is good. Interestingly, the game goes for authenticity in its music, since there's lots of period jazz mixed with Italian-style melodies. It's an unexpectedly nice touch, even if it breaks down to more typical fare in the game's final moments.

In the end, Guns, Gore & Cannoli is a pretty good side-scrolling shoot-em-up. The action is intense and challenging due to the mob mentality of the enemies and the sheer quantity of foes. The gunplay is solid, so each gun feels useful, and the gameplay flow is just right, whether you're playing solo or with others. If you can live with some projectile and platforming flaws and are a fan of the classic side-scrolling, run-and-gun titles, you'll have some fun with Guns, Gore & Cannoli.

Score: 8.0/10

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