Italian food, gratuitous gore, and…zombies? Such is the case with Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2, a run ’n gun platformer recently released for systems such as the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. For the sake of this review, we’ll be looking at the PS4 version and deciding if this ultra violent title is worth giving a shot.
Our protagonist here is Vinnie, a run of the mill mobster in the 1940s who decides to embark upon a quest where he’s pursued by other mobsters and police alike in order to defeat the mysterious “Dark Don”. Oh, and zombies show up. It’s silly and a bit shallow, and the game absolutely revels in that. The voice acting is over-the-top, which couples nicely with the over-the-top style of the game itself. Within moments of starting the game, people are being blown to bits and references are being made to homestyle Italian cooking and I loved every second of it.
This is bolstered by the great presentation here. The art style here is cartoony, but also just a little bit stilted. At times, it almost looks like 2D marionettes moving across the screen smashing the hell out of each other, enduring such situations as police cars smashing through walls, killing enemies by dropping air conditioning units on them, and also going up against all form of mobster, zombie, weird demon looking things, and of course, zombie mobsters.
The same praises can not, however, be given to the sound design. Well, the soundtrack anyways. The sound effects and voice acting here are spot on, and whenever you fire a barrage of bullets the controller vibrates a bit, further immersing you in the experience. This makes me wonder if the Nintendo Switch version of the game makes use of HD Rumble to further enhance this feature, though I am unfortunately unable to look into this. The music, however, is forgettable. Though the gameplay borrows from the likes of games such as Metal Slug and Contra, the same can not be said of the tunes here. That isn’t to say the soundtrack here is bad, because it certainly wasn’t and at no point did I feel removed from the experience, but perhaps that’s because the music itself was mostly forgettable and often was drowned out by the sounds of gunfights.
Where Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2 shines, though, is in the gameplay. Though the control scheme utilizes both joysticks, meaning that you are locked facing in one direction unless you manually turn yourself the other way and this is a bit awkward at first, once you get the hang of it you will be happily mowing down all manner of enemies, both alive and undead. Movement is quick and snappy, and you’re given access to a wide arsenal of weapons ranging from baseball bats to chainsaws to shotguns, pistols, machine guns, and more! Plus, many parts of each stage are destructible, meaning that you can cause deaths by means such as wrecking balls, exploding vehicles, dropping air conditioners, and even literally tossing enemies into raging flames.
This seems fantastic, until you realise how repetitive it is. Though repetition is a pitfall many run and gun games face, this is amplified here by the true length of each stage. Some stages just seem to go on for too long. Some enemy waves overstay their welcome or have minibosses who, despite not being that difficult to dodge, seem to be more bullet sponges than anything else. It’s fun in short bursts and perhaps taken a stage at a time, but this just isn’t a game I could see myself binging from start to end in the same manner as Metal Slug. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but rather, a game that would have been better with shorter stages. As the old saying goes, less can be more.
Despite it’s issues with length and its repetitious nature, Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2 is still a fun time overall. It’s filled with gratuitous violence, but charmingly so. The presentation is spot on and the gameplay is fun, but though it is definitely a good game, with just a few tweaks this could have truly been a great game.
James Christensen is a writer, content creator, and social media marketing nerd currently residing in Victoria, British Columbia. He’s written about people, technology, and the environment, along with creating the online documentary series “The Art of Failure”. Feel free to check him out on Twitter and on YouTube!