Long before Kingpin, players were given the opportunity to talk dirty and treat women like dehumanized sex objects in Duke Nukem 3D. Unfortunately, Duke's insensitive ways opened the door for a flood of political incorrectness that targeted a range of issues from gender to race. After being bludgeoned by the chop-sockey antics of Lo Wang and the trailer-trash stylings of Leonard in Redneck Rampage, we are now treated to more from this fine tradition in Kingpin. This time Xatrix has tapped into "black culture" and has upped the morally reprehensible meter with ultra-violence and excessive foul language. Then somewhere along the way, they tried to excuse themselves by claiming the game as strictly for mature gamers.

Make no mistake, this is just another FPS with some great ideas (my personal favorite was being able to assemble my own crew) and stunning visuals that ultimately go to waste. Dale pretty much hits the nail on the head when the refers to Kingpin's creative direction as nothing more than 'dressing' with corrupt intentions of exploitation. All the dialogue spewed forth by the NPCs, which is comprised of overused rap cliches about hating cops and referring to women as (putting it politely) 'female canines', made every encounter seem like an interaction with cardboard cut-outs from MTV. You can forget about any character depth and personality going beyond one dimension. It's also pretty ridiculous the way the developers tried to 'white wash' (actually khakis wash is more like it) all the characters into a generic culture considering the developers clearly drew inspiration from urban hip-hop culture predominated by African Americans. Rather than dealing with reality, Xatrix opted to ignore the very real issue of racial tension. But by far the worst sign of a poorly integrated premise came as I progressed to the latter half of the second stage, which resembled something more out of Half-Life than a 'gangsta's paradise.' I got the feeling that Xatrix wasn't even trying to maintain the urban integrity anymore and abandoned its original premise, exposing Kingpin's world as nothing more than a facade.

I'm all for freedom of speech and I only wish this were a game truly targeted at adults. But I think even Ice-T would have serious issues with Kingpin being that its profanity and violence doesn't seem motivated by real urban violence, real police brutality, or real disillusionment with American ideals. Instead, Kingpin is a farce, drawing broad strokes based on stereotypes and ignorance. Kingpin provides plenty of ammunition, not for the players, but for Senator McCain and his crusade against video game violence. This will clearly add more fuel to the fire that the Columbine High School incident has set ablaze. It's too bad that truly mature gamers will have to wait longer for a game that takes issues like race relations, urban violence, and police brutality seriously, but until then, I hope I never have to play a game called "Nazi Concentration Camp Exterminator" or "Arab Cabbies." Interplay was right to put all those 'mature' labels on the boxes. Only they forgot to add the prefix "im" to it. Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui
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