Shakedown: Hawaii is a game we had been looking forward to playing for a long time, so we jumped on the chance to do a double review for it! Come check out what we thought of this pixeltastic game in our Shakedown: Hawaii review!
Welcome to Shakedown: Hawaii, Vblank Entertainment’s latest open world adventure. Build a “legitimate” corporation by completing open world missions, acquiring businesses, sabotaging competitors, “rezoning” land, and shaking down shops for protection money.
This is a double review for Shakedown: Hawaii. Ceidz and ThaRaven403 played the game, and this review presents what they both had to say.
Shakedown: Hawaii’s open-world story mode consists of 126 story missions. This might seem like a lot, but missions generally last only a couple of minutes, so it’s easy to drop in to play a few missions, and then carry on with your day. Missions generally ask you to get from point A to point B on the map, and occasionally attack someone or defend your turf. It does get a bit repetitive every now and then, but the fact that those missions are so short means you don’t feel bored. There is also a ton of side content to work on with optional missions and shakedowns, which consist of entering stores and kindly forcing them to give you protection money – by any means necessary. This will bring in some additional daily revenue, as your goal is ultimately to get rich or die trying, buying businesses and apartments along the way.
This brings up the second aspect of the game: business management. Apart from getting revenue from protection money, your goal also becomes to invest in different ventures to get more money. As you progress in the game, you’ll be able to purchase different buildings and companies to add to your portfolio, things such as VR startups, convenience stores, and other legit businesses. If you buy all the buildings of the same type, you’ll get a bonus in revenue, so there’s a certain strategy in choosing what you buy first. And if you get certain unlocks through the game that will multiply a certain building type revenue, things will skyrocket for you!
I remember playing Retro City Rampage, Vblank Entertainment’s previous game a few years ago and enjoying its satiric take on the open-world genre. Fast forward to this game and the same kind of humor is felt for a few laughs here and there. One of the things I appreciated for Shakedown: Hawaii is the length of the missions since they were generally pretty short. Progress doesn’t feel like a burden since you can hop in and complete a handful of story missions, then bully up a few stores in shakedowns, buy some properties, and do it all over again as you please. There are also Arcade Challenges, which you can find scattered around the map, which are VR simulations (for the character) where you have to complete certain tasks in the fastest time possible to unlock medals.
There’s one thing I found a bit annoying though: how the game plays with the minimap. There are a lot of missions that ask you to follow the map to know where to go, but as you do, you usually end up crashing into a few cars and pedestrians since the streets are packed with people. A small indicator on-screen, or fewer people on the streets, would’ve made this a bit easier to not end up having the police chasing you – nothing that can’t be balanced a bit with a patch or two.
As for the trophies, I am heartbroken to announce there is no Platinum trophy in this one! But if you want all the trophies, you’ll have to complete everything in the game, and I do mean everything, including purchasing all the buildings in the city. The only trophy that might prove a bit challenging is the one for getting gold medals in every challenge, but with a bit of practice, it should be easily achievable.
In Shakedown: Hawaii, you are following the CEO of Feeble Multinational – which is quite the company name. The CEO has been running his business since the early eighties, and he didn’t upgrade or improve anything, so we’re now playing a few years later, technology has picked up, and mostly killed his business. This game is light-hearted and quite humorous at times, which I thought was amusing! The guy doesn’t believe in technological advancements, and I liked how Shakedown: Hawaii captures almost every technological advancement and marketing twist perfectly throughout its campaign.
I didn’t get the chance to play Retro City Rampage from VBlank Entertainment when it released a few years ago, so I didn’t have any particular expectations about the gameplay in Shakedown: Hawaii. The game is similar to Grand Theft Auto 2, which released in the early 2000s, with similar pixel art graphics and gameplay. The main gameplay loop has you building your empire using different marketing strategies – in a GTA style. I liked that there is a slew of side-quests which are to “Shakedown” every shop in the house for “protection money,” which of course adds to your revenue.
The first missions of the game serve as a quick tutorial without actually looking like one. I liked the way this was presented and how I immediately got to explore the open world setting – the entire island is open to you with no blockades – and can be explored as you wish. The amount of content in this game is amazing as there are cut-scenes every few minutes, and you’re looking at roughly 8 hours of solid gameplay. The first evening I started playing for this review, the first time I checked the time it was, it was already half an hour past my regular bedtime.
Honestly, even though I played more than I thought on my first evening, Shakedown: Hawaii actually starts rather slowly. You are often short on cash (which is awarded for every single day cycle in the game) to buy possessions. It picks up after a few game hours, when multipliers are introduced, which are “marketing tricks” that allow you to be as much con as you want to obtain the “customers” money, without any morale. In the second half of the game and even more as we progress through the ending, you have so much money in the bank that there is nothing more that can be purchased.
The presentation is flawless, both on the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. The art style which looks like it was an early PlayStation 1 pixeltastic game is well done, and the environment is fairly destructible, which is a nice touch. The gameplay in itself is addictive and rewarding, and the soundtrack is catchy at times, and you can also change the music while you’re driving, which gives nothing gameplay-wise but is once again a nice touch. I managed to complete the game in 8 hours – shakedown and eventually acquire every shop on the island. Apart from grinding for trophies, you can still explore the city as you wish.
We liked playing through Shakedown: Hawaii and loved the polished gameplay and presentation this game offers.
We’re also glad it is both Cross-Buy and Cross-Save with both the PS4 and Vita consoles. I began playing on my PS4, then effortlessly switched to the Vita and played most of the campaign on it. Being Ceidz best console of all time, he was also very happy to see his console get some love this late in its life cycle. Shakedown: Hawaii is an easy game to recommend if you’re looking for a pixelated open-world empire building game!
This Shakedown: Hawaii review is based on PlayStation 4 copies provided by VBlank Entertainement.