Following 3 years of radio silence, Kingpin remaster releases only to get slammed: 'Is it too late to hand this over to Nightdive?'

Shooting a man charging toward you in Kingpin Reloaded.
(Image credit: 3D Realms)

I have strangely fond memories of Kingpin: Life of Crime, a 1999, vaguely dieselpunk-y FPS that I played far, far too young. It was ultraviolent, ultra-sweary, and had a light smattering of RPG elements that made it feel very novel to me back when I played it. I was pretty excited, then, when 3D Realms announced a remaster called Kingpin: Reloaded in 2020.

After three years—including a long period where it felt like the project had dropped off the face of the Earth—that remaster finally released last Monday and, well, oh no. Buyers of the game on Steam have not responded well to the game, which currently sits at a 30% "Mostly Negative" score on the platform's user review system. From the sounds of it, it's another case of a remaster releasing before it's fully baked, much like what happened with The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition earlier this year.

"Released in unfinished state," reads a review from Steam user skeep, who complains of mouse difficulties and "stutters everywhere," as well as bemoaning the lack of mod support. Another, from Mayron Luctus, calls the remaster "clunky" and "buggy" with blood that "looks like watered strawberry jam." Luctus adds that users can get a better experience by buying the original game—also available on Steam and GOG—and modding it.

One user, Chadaclysm, just cuts straight to the point: "Is it too late to hand this over to Nightdive?"

So Kingpin: Reloaded seems to have come out the door in a bit of a state, which I can't help but feel is becoming a bit of a familiar tale with all sorts of remakes and remasters these days (the GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition is still absolutely not the definitive version of those games, for instance). But to be fair to Kingpin: Reloaded studio Slipgate Ironworks, working on Kingpin: Reloaded seems to have been much harder than anyone might have anticipated.

Frederik Schreiber, CEO of both Slipgate and 3D Realms, took to Twitter on release day to note that the devs at the studio had to basically write "a new engine, sandwiched between Unity and the original game, in order to reverse engineer and interpret the entire original game," because the source code for the original Kingpin has been lost.

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So putting this thing together sounds like it was a real nightmare, which isn't any excuse for selling people a game that feels unfinished, but does go some way to explaining why it's in the state it's in. Schreiber calls Kingpin: Reloaded a "passion project" for the studio, and Slipgate has already put out a list of known issues it intends to address, so with any luck this will become yet another game that gets properly finished some time after release. But it sure would be nice if that wasn't something we had to hope for quite so frequently.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.