Guns Gore and Cannoli 2 comes to us from the developers at Crazy Monkey Studios and you’ll be surprised to hear it’s a direct sequel to Guns Gore and Cannoli released in 2015. The first game was based in the Roaring Twenties, staring the loud-mouthed mobster Vinnie Cannoli facing off against a horde of hideous zombies. Fifteen years later we find our Tommy Gun-toting hero in the thick of it again, this time as World War 2 is entering its final stages.
Sometimes I review a game and it needs an introduction or some creative writing to set the scene. Here, there really is no need for any of these frivolous niceties because the visuals on this game speak for themselves. If you have come to my website expecting a video review and are presently reeling in horror at just plain old words; I have included the launch trailer below which will give you a very good idea of what to expect from this game. Wordy people, let us continue.
Say hello to my little friend
Guns Gore and Cannoli 2 is an action platformer in which you must take on a whole manner of enemies while negotiating various themed areas. You do have a few melee weapons but by en large, you will do most of your negotiating with ranged attacks. You start off with a basic hand gun that takes a few hits to kill the standard enemies but very soon you will have picked up some of the more persuasive weapons. At your disposal is a selection machine guns, grenade launchers and my favourite: the hand cannon because it can take heads clean off with one shot. I was surprised there was no grenade or rifle option given the World War 2 settling. Bullets do cruise across the screen as fairly slow pace when compared to their real-life cousins but this makes for an almost bullet hell feel to the combat, at least once the heat gets turned up. You will also notice that Vinnie has a subtle aiming line being projected from the end of his gun which is great for those who like a more tactical approach when releasing enemies of their thinking bits.
So it has the guns but how do we fair on the gore? I was initially a little underwhelmed by the gore model because bullets would land on enemies like bags of peanuts. However, this changes very quickly once you start to see some explosions and get access to the more powerful weapons. One of the best feelings in this game is to jump onto a fifty calibre machine gun and watch the screen fill up with soggy body parts. It's also interesting that the developers allowed the enemy ordinance to damage their own troops, which can lead to some explosive mistakes on their part.
Like ma used to make
So I think it would be fair to say that Guns Gore & Cannoli 2 isn't going to push back any gameplay boundaries, but then it doesn't need to. Vinnie doesn't have a vast set of skills to unleash on his foes, just your basic duck, roll and double jump. However, I love how these few skills have been used to good effect. Like when crouched behind a crate cracking off shots at the advancing mobsters, you do feel like your in a God Father showdown.
There are a few little disappointments here and there. Once you start kicking in doors you will notice that most of the enemy spawn points lead you to small hiding places. When I starting playing I assumed many of these would lead to small secrets/rewards like ammo, weapons and easter eggs. Unfortunately, the vast majority do not and I think this was a wasted opportunity. That said there are some hilarious secrets to find (eventually!), some of which ill share below.
Like any action/platformer, you will have to defeat a boss at the end of each chapter. In Guns Gore and Cannoli 2, there are only a few of these confrontations because the game is relatively short. Each felt fun to fight but a little too easy for my liking. The final boss encounter did put up a good fight and took a few turns before I found a way to best it. What these bosses lack in complexity however they make up for in visual flair and personality.
You can also play the game with up to four players, myself and a friend linked up via Steam and the process was seamless. You both get your own ammo and health pickups but the action is exactly the same for both of you. Like the basic skills, playing with other humans is more fun than I had expected, with one player covering the other from up high or leading groups into a trap.
These wise-guys got the smarts
Anyone who has programmed gaming AI will know that getting computer people to do even the most basic action can be a nightmare. Two dimensional games are easier to code for obvious reasons but that doesn't mean things can't go awry. I am happy to say that not only do these enemies get the basics right, that they also have a few clever surprises up their cell-shaded sleeves. For the sake of spoilers I won't go into the specific enemies you fight too much, but overall I was very impressed with the amount on offer. What was impressive is how the various 'factions' will start fighting among themselves when in the same place. This can, of course, become a useful tool for thinning down a crowd of hostiles.
Many times I would be shot out of the air due to an enemy making what can only be described as a predictive shot after I'd jumped. Similarly, some enemies will leap at you, not a set distance and height but instead the exact distance needed to land on your current position. While this wasn't too difficult to adapt to, it did certainly keep me on my toes in a busy fight.
You talkin to me?
One of my favourite parts of this game is the sound work, especially the one-liners from Vinnie. 'Everyone is a gangster until a gangster walks into the room' and 'making America great again' are two of my favourites and the second one show a good degree of parody for modern world events. There are a few small scenes of dialogue in between each chapter and while cliched, they are certainly meant to be. In this respect, the game is very self-aware and I felt like I was laughing with Vinnie, not at him. At the end of the day Vinnie is a tough as coffin-nails mobster so it was never going to be Shakespeare, but overall his personality helped me enjoy the game and not want to hit the mute button.
As you scoot through the levels we get treated to some very well placed music that is right from this era. You can also hear the thrum of jazz emanating from radios as you pass them which also adds another layer of immersion. The weapon effects in the game are overall good but some of the weaker weapons like the handgun sounding a bit fuzzy in my opinion. This is a really minor complaint because most of the other sound effects are spot on and really help draw the player into the fights.
Is it PC?
Like all games that go for this type of two dimensional cell shading, its performance is flawless no matter how many severed body parts are streaking across the screen. For this reason, I expect it to perform very well on systems with less power, like the Switch for example. If you do happen to venture into the graphics options you'll notice there aren't any, save for choice of resolution and a tick-box for V-Sync. Games like Hollow Knight and this don't really need a large number of options, they look good right out of the box. My friend who was helping me check the co-op parts of the game noted that performance went up a lot with V-sync turned on so keep that in mind.
When making your way through parts of downtown you can see washing hanging on makeshift hangers, roaring braziers and every other conceivable utility a working building would need. All these assets are hand drawn and exquisite in detail, considering this is a platform shooter I spent a good deal of time admiring the efforts of the art team. In fact, levels are so detailed a part of me was left wanting to explore this world as a deeper RPG. It is also worth mentioning that these levels are very breakable and once the bullets start flying they crumble like bolster wood in a barn dance. Another favourite graphical effect of mine is Parallax Scrolling which basically moves assets in the foreground and background at different speeds to give the sense of depth. Like with Hollow Knight the team have used this visual tool to great effect.
Guns Gore and Cannoli 2 does exactly what it promised to do in the trailers and gives you a highly entertaining platform/shooter that spans a visually rich set of locations. There is only one potential issue that I must flag and that is the length of the story campaign: it's very short. I sat down and completed this game in one sitting and this might put some of you off. That being said I really don't think it should, mainly because it has been fairly priced at only £10.29 on Steam. The game also feels a lot bigger than it is due to the sheer amount of enemy variation from three distinct enemy groups. In addition to this, I'd say there is a lot of replay value in the co-op aspect of the game, I have already finished the campaign a second time and am planning a co-op run later this week.
I fully intend to pick up the first game at some point, from what I can see that was also well received by the critics and did well in terms of sales. I guess one of the best signs of a good game is if when you have finished it you dive right back in and play it again. If you love beautifully presented platform/shooters with a good helping of co-op, you will have to go a long way to find a better game than this; highly recommended.
Thank you for reading my review of Guns Gore and Cannoli 2 on PC. My copy of the game was provided for free by the kind folks at Crazy Monkey Studios. If you are a PC gamer please follow me @riggedforepic and add my site to your favourites. Sharing my work on social media and with friends is always appreciated.