Don’t let the title fool you, it’s serious run-and-gun fun.
With so many games hitting digital storefronts, making a lasting first impression is paramount to finding success in a crowded market place. While browsing, generally that first impression comes by way of a name and a few screenshots, and it must be effective because in just a matter of seconds it’s on to the next game in the seemingly never ending list. When I first saw Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2, I was skeptical, but after viewing a few screens it was enough to peak my interest. This side-scrolling run-and-gun adventure is packed not only with over-the-top action, but has a far more interesting story than I could have ever imagined.
Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 is a sequel, as the title would infer, that follows the protagonist Vinnie Cannoli 15 years after the events of the first title. However, if you’re like me and haven’t played the first game, no need to fret because we’re treated to a quick synopsis of what went down prior to getting into the action. Even without it, the plot works as a standalone experience outside a few aspects, such as zombies, which would feel strange or out of place. Coming into it, I figured the story would take a backseat to the gameplay, but to my surprise the game is filled with funny moments and situations that are beyond bonkers. With each turn in the plot, I continued to be dumbfounded as the story became even more nonsensical, in the best way possible.
While the story is definitely more engaging that I would have thought, the meat and potatoes still lies within the gameplay. The core controls are similar to that of a twin-stick shooter, movement is taken care of with the left stick and full 360 degree aiming is done with the right stick. You’re also equipped with a double jump and a dodge roll, which comes in hand once the bullets start flying. The skillset allows for crisp traversal while avoiding enemy fire and dishing out some punishment of your own. Jumping and dodging in conjunction with one another feels really good. The default settings actually include an assisted aim, which if close to a target will slightly adjust the aim to lock onto them. This is a nice feature for those looking for a little assistance, but I found pulling off headshots more rewarding with the option turned off. The design of each area usually includes some minor puzzle elements. For instance, needing to explore a building for a valve to turn off before returning to the once unpassable hallway. There are also kill rooms, areas where an abundance of enemies continue to pour out until they’re all polished off, but they’re spread far enough apart that they never become tiresome.
The action is enough fun on it’s own, but what continues to keep it fun throughout the adventure is the large arsenal of weapons you amass along the way. At the onset only a chainsaw and shortly after that a pistol are available, but it quickly grows to plenty of options for dismembering foes. I found it extremely fun to switch between guns on the fly, which is made easy by pressing and holding the L button to access the weapon select wheel. Ammo is given out pretty liberally; even if ammunition for a particular gun is low or completely depleted, using another gun for a short period of time will usually net enough to refill what’s low. Some of the guns are similar, but for the most part each feel different enough that tinkering with them all was a pleasure. While the majority of my time was spent in single player, both local co-op and online co-op options add some friends or strangers to the mix. I didn’t have the option to join any friends online, but found that the quick game option was a bit disappointing. Most of the time I ended up not finding anyone to join and the few times I did, it took an attempt or two to actually get in the game. I will note that the few times I did get into a game, it ran well and it was fun to have another person adding to the zaniness. This feature also adds some replayability, as the story beginning to end isn’t all that long. There are four different difficulty settings as well which gives you another reason to revisit areas.
Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 features some really wonderful backdrops to enjoy while mowing down enemies. Each area has nice attention to detail making the romp through them all the more enjoyable. Character designs are solid, but tend to get reused a bit throughout each level. Three factions are gunning for Vinnie’s head; the cops, mobsters, and zombies alike, but what I appreciate is they will attack each other as well. As the title of the game alludes to, there is a lot of gore and blood, but it is presented in cartoon fashion. Exploding enemies, decapitating headshots, and such are common place making this geared towards a more mature audience. The collection of music fits well, especially in the mobsters area which features tunes that would be right at home in the movie Goodfellas. I ran into some areas where the frame rate would dip slightly, but found it was more prevalent while docked. A number of cutscenes had some terrific voice acting and were done elegantly.
Based off the name alone, Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 will likely garner an initial response that is ultimately undeserving. It implies complete silliness, and while the story most certainly is, albeit in a good manner, the gameplay proves to be fun and engaging. Running-and-gunning through the campaign was a blast and with co-op as an option, it gives more reason to revisit the relatively short campaign. Online matchmaking can be a bit of a hassle, but when it works, it works well. However, I thoroughly enjoyed what is offered as a single player experience.