All ganged up
The Godfather. GoodFellas. If the movies are anything to be believed, alongside the pizza and the pasta, we all know that Italy is synonymous with its gangsters.
Produce a game about the mafia and market it to an 18+ audience and you know what you’re going to get. A far cry from the politically correct, Milanoir opens with a hitman passing through a bar on the way to find his target in the bathroom. After opening fire on one of the stalls, killing the occupant within, bullets hail from the cubicle next door, killing the hitman. It turns out he shot the wrong stall, and paid a grisly price. From there, we visit a lesbian prostitute complete with scenes of pixelated full-frontal nudity, and the shock value continues.
But sadly, what should be an immersive world of the Italian underworld, with its mob rules, guns, violence, bad language and sex, is let down by horrendously frustrating controls. Yes, this is a pixelated game with a top-down view, but rather than the cursor aiming method, I’d have much preferred a simple 360-degree (or a few degrees less) swivel system where you can fire shots off in whatever direction you like.
Too much of the time that should be spent enjoying the world the developers have clearly created quite lovingly, is instead focused on watching the crosshair sailing around the screen in all sorts of directions that you don’t want it to go, resulting in lots of time firing at nothing and rampant frustration in the set-pieces which involve multiple high-powered enemies at once, with a lot of them requiring multiple hits to go down.
Starting off with a mere handgun, an MP3 machine gun can be picked up further down the line, but is immensely flawed in that it only fires in bursts, meaning you’re going to have to continually tap the ZR-trigger to take out a group of enemies. Add to this, your other main control input is an evasive roll using the opposite trigger, and again you need multiple taps to slide out of danger. The amount of tapping needed in the game is grounds for some sort of finger injury – and taking on the entire game in one playthrough is going to leave you feeling pretty numb.
It’s just something which detracts from the experience. The writing and storyline are done really well, with a marauding story which takes your character from job to job, meeting mob bosses and carrying out their dirty work and going in all guns blazing to hives of enemy forces. Piero, your main character, is weirdly likeable despite his murderous ways, and the gameplay takes you from screen-scrolling shoot-outs to vehicle-based combat aboard trams, dinghies, a moped and more. Boss battles make things a lot tougher – detractingly so, when you factor in the controls which make things just too hard to contend with.
I’m looking forward to getting a fully 3D, high-quality graphics mob-type game on the Switch for the first time. That’s for another day, though, and Milanoir offers at least some of the type of story you’d hope for from that type of game. If they’d just sort that blasted cursor aiming system out and come up with a control scheme that doesn’t wreck fingers, I’ll come back in.
While strong on storyline and overall feel, the control system stopped Milanoir being great. Repetitive sequences didn’t help, either – there were times where the action sequences had me bored, and were a chore to complete.