Guns, Gore and Cannoli is a side scrolling shoot-em-up featuring guns, gore and cannoli.
You don’t get this kind of honesty from other games, do you? The next God of War game probably won’t be called Baldness, Blood and Tits. There’s a reason Heavy Rain wasn’t called The Worst Father Of The Year Stuck In The Uncanny Valley. When’s Bland Space Shooter With Energy Swords 5 coming out again?
The campaign in this 2D gangster caper follows a mob enforcer named Vinnie, although you can pick other Mafia men or women to use as well. He is hired to capture a man called Frankie from Thugtown – an apt name, even if it sounds like the first one brainstormed at the meeting before the developers thought, “Fuck it, that’ll do. We’ve got gore to work on, then cannoli after lunch.”
Before you’re even off the boat, it becomes apparent that Thugtown has been swarmed with zombies. Thereafter, levels consist of running through a dimly lit 1920’s city wasting the undead with a range of different weapons. Going it alone is an option, although a few friends can join the ride if they want as well. And they will want to if your Xbox One continues to suck at split-screen. There are only so many games with local multiplayer, one of which is sticking a Monopoly board on top of the bloody console and playing that instead. But, I digress…
Waves of enemies attack from both sides of the screen, and it’s not long before a host of zombie types besides your bog standard crawler folk appear. Big bruisers slowly advance towards you chucking projectiles, undead NFL players charge in only to be stopped by a well-timed shotgun blast, and zombies, still holding weapons in their clammy hands, attempt to pop a cap in yo’ ass. There’s also a sewer level (it’s a 2-D shoot-em-up, remember?) in which infected rats try really hard to gnaw your face off.
Eventually, the mob motif of the game does get a little more involved, as soldiers and rival gangsters join the fight. They are more challenging opponents, chucking grenades and wielding flamethrowers and RPGS in some cases, but you can still blow their heads off with a nicely aimed magnum slug. Thankfully, when other humanoid enemies do pop up, other zombies attack them rather than home in on you like a tasty brain beacon. Sometimes a zombie would inadvertently save me, and I’d sigh with relief, before it gave me a Kill Bill death stare and murdered me as well. Another sigh.
The variety of enemies to face off against is great, but you’ll only really have to change strategies later on as more challenging foes pop up and environments switch to include more up-and-downy terrain. Until then, bouldering through with a shotgun serves you pretty well. You’re also given enough grenades and molotovs to thin out even the most rampant hordes. Weapons are fairly conventional, with the exception of a suspend-your-disbelief lightning rifle unlocked near the final stages, but they all pack a punch. Even the starting weapon sounds less like a Prohibition-era pistol and more like a Desert Eagle.
The only problem is that switching to the weapon you want becomes harder as your arsenal increases in size. You have to switch all the way through your guns, which can leave you fumbling around when zombies are attacking. You might end up panicking and ending up with a Tommy gun instead of a flamethrower. Perhaps a radial system to pick out the precise weapon you wanted, à la Bioshock, could have prevented this. For a game in which you’ll want to be switching on the fly regularly, it feels a bit hard to handle, à la The Godfather 3.
Apart from that, we’ve had gore, and we’ve had guns. What more could you want from a game called Guns, Gore and Canno – oh, I see. Serving as the game’s health packs, cannoli is dotted about levels to fill up your HP in a jiffy, usually just before you’re about to die (hooray for play testing). That said, checkpoints aren’t always lenient, and the game ain’t a pushover, so be prepared to be set back a ways if you’ve been a bit too John Dillinger about it. Rounding out the challenge are boss fights, which are entertaining, if not too hard to puzzle out. There could have been a couple more if the game didn’t rush to finish in only a few hours.
However, for the time you are playing, Guns, Gore and Cannoli does as much as it really needs to with its setting. The Roaring Twenties is a unique locale for zombies, and the game makes the most with fantastically detailed apartments, automobiles and fedora-wearing bandits. There are even a few mobster movie references thrown in as you blast baddies to bits. Although, hearing them again and again does grate after a while.
Naturally, there’s a certain lack of polish that comes with a game with this short of an end credits sequence (After the mammoth MGS5 one I just watched, this was like a footnote). Spoken dialogue in cut-scenes doesn’t match up to subtitles, the story is hardly The Sopranos, and chances are, after completion, you won’t feel a strong desire to play through again. A lack of weapon upgrades or collectibles and a fairly vanilla versus mode doesn’t make for a replayable experience, capiche?
But that’s Guns, Gore and Cannoli for you. It’s a blast to play and it does exactly what it says on the tin, nothing more, and nothing less. How many games do you know that have that kind of honesty? I’m personally looking forward to playing The World Has Exploded, and Now I Have 500 Quests to Complete later this year.