SHAKEDOWN: HAWAII / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: VBLANK ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH, VITA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The follow-up to 2012’s Retro City Rampage, Shakedown: Hawaii retains the old-school top-down GTA inspirations of its predecessor and transports it to 16-bit era Hawaii. With help from his slacker son and henchman, an out of touch businessman tries to rebuild his empire by moving away from VHS rentals and taxis and getting into more modern affairs like VR arcades, streaming platforms and workout supplements.
The campaign plays out across over 100 missions that largely involve going from one place to another to shoot someone or destroy something, with the occasional simple platforming segment thrown in here and there. Missions are all very short, which is great for portable play but also means there’s not too much to really sink your teeth into.
Alongside the main story objectives, the other side of Shakedown involves buying and upgrading businesses with “income multipliers” to increase your wealth. Collect protection money from shop owners, steal cars, rob houses, intercept delivery trucks, and take over the entire city to fund your corporate expansion. It’s much less serious as that sounds, but despite poking fun at many of the modern luxuries that these characters are involved with, the humour doesn’t quite come through as well as you might want it to.
Hawaii makes a great location for an open world game, with colourful buildings and leafy trees lining the (almost completely destructible) streets. A catchy synthwave soundtrack complements the surroundings perfectly, and some 90’s arcadey sound effects (especially the sound of engines revving and people screaming) round things off nicely on that side of things.
A free mode allows you to return just to cause trouble, and a handful weapon-based challenges offer some incentive to revisit the island, but it’s a shame that there isn’t a little more meat to Shakedown. What’s there is fun, but there’s very little challenge - we saw the end credits in just over 6 hours, which included buying and upgrading every single building, and there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to go back when you’re already earning over $50m a day.