Shakedown: Hawaii review – crime and capitalism in a sunny open world

May 8, 2019
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Shakedown: Hawaii is the latest game from Brian Provinciano, whose previous work, Retro City Rampage, de-made GTA for the era of 8-bit consoles and then loaded its open-world with topical memespeak gags and labour-of-love gimmicks. Shakedown: Hawaii is more of the same – more open-world crime, with 16-bit graphics this time, as a trio of characters rebuild a decrepit business empire using deeply questionable tactics. But as well as being a game about stealing cars, running people down, and shooting everyone you meet to pieces, it’s also a bit of a clicker.

The more you play, the more you earn. And the more you earn, the more of the map’s businesses you are able to buy up, and benefit from their daily revenue. After one real-world day of playing, I owned a fairly small proportion of the map, and I was making about half a million every in-game day. The following afternoon, when I finally hit the end-game and looked back at my stats I owned 334 of the 415 available buildings in town, and I was making just over three million every 24 hours. That’s in-game 24 hours, of course. Quite a career I was having.

Shakedown’s taken the clicker mentality to its core, I think. Nothing in this game contains much in the way of friction. The storyline is frothy and glib, taking on the myriad annoyances of the modern world, from expensive printer cartridges to the cruel T&Cs on a competition flyer’s small print. It’s entertaining enough, I think, and if you tire of it you can hold down a button to speed through cut-scenes at double time anyway. And the missions – there are over 100 of them – are short, punchy affairs. You drive somewhere, you shoot someone or punch someone or smash something up, and then you drive somewhere else.

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