Review / Drug Wars: Merchants of Brooklyn (PC)

We here at TVGB are crazy about supporting indie games and when good ones roll around we tend to go nuts for them. Zeno Clash is a great example of one of those great indie games that we want to make sure everyone knows all about. However not all indie games are created equal and sometimes games like Drug Wars, if that’s even what it’s called, come along and slap our starry eyed stare right out of our eye sockets. To make a long story short Merchants of Brooklyn aka MOB aka Drug Wars is simply not a good game.

Crytek created an awesome graphics engine with CryEngine 2. The engine powered Crysis and Crysis Warhead, both of which are two of the most gorgeous games ever created. So imagine my surprise when I booted up Drug Wars knowing it’s powered by the same graphics engine as Crysis and found the graphics to be obnoxiously generic. There is just nothing interesting both technically or artistically about Drug Wars’ graphics. Visually the game looks like a college project rather than looking like a professional, albeit indie, developed game. Laziness is apparent in the game as they reused the same over grown brute model for every male enemy and random character in the game. The animations are stiff, walking looks like sliding, there is little weight given to the characters’ animations and the physics bug out often.

The music and sound effects are so bad that it becomes comical. Remember Doom? Remember those pink pig monster things? Well the baddies in Drug Wars sound just like that when they die. It’s so uncanny I might even be so bold to suggest that they used the exact sound effect from Doom. The gun shots and the constant twang of the ricocheting bullets are so monotonous that it becomes a nuisance after only a few minutes. The music choices are bizarre, one second you’re hearing a nice dramatic musical score, next a hip hop jam and then when you die you’re forcefully thrusted into an uncomfortable heavy metal riff. There is no overall theme or consistency.

If we can plug our ears and gouge our eyes out and try to grab on to the core gameplay maybe just maybe could we find something good? Unfortunately we couldn’t. If you want a very straight forward, un-challenging, first-person shooter with generic weapons and enemies that have idiot level AI, then Drug Wars is your game. The gameplay simply becomes boring after the very first battle you do that showed what tiny promise this game had. There’s really nothing to it, you shoot stuff and it dies. If there is variation in the gameplay then it’s coming too late in the game as I suffered 3 hours of it and found nothing but killing things.

The choice of weapons are insufferably predicable and most of them are utterly pointless. The first gun you get is a shotgun of sorts which incidentally is more or less the most useful of them all. You get other guns that are different, such as “The Money Shot” that lobs radioactive man splooge at your targets (not kidding). That same ineffectiveness applies to most of the other weapons and I continued to default to the shotgun as it blew right through those overgrown ape men. The only remotely cool thing is that when a person exploded into various body parts, you could then pick up said body parts and turn them into energy grenades. Why you’re able to do that is never explained but hey, at least they’re consistent.

The game employs the ever popular progressive health regeneration, so if you’re not getting hit for a while you regenerate. That’s fine and we accept that as being a new(ish) thing that games are doing. They however also employ this notion of ammo using a few different types of energy balls that are just floating around. There’s different colors and the colors correspond with your gun types. Green is for the Money Shot and red is for the shotgun and machine gun. That’s all fine and dandy, the problem comes from the fact that this was never explained. I only found out that I even had or needed ammo when I eventually ran out. It’s not obvious from the HUD and being told “hey you need to make sure you pick up ammo you dumbass” would have been nice. It’s also problematic because the guns feel endless as they don’t have to reload, ever.

The story is pretty thin as well. It’s mindlessly campy and tries too hard to be hip with pop culture. Unfortunately I was unable to really get a lot of the story development fed to me because of the audio bugging out, but what I did catch was fairly simple.

It’s like Waterworld if you drain some of the water out and the water levels only reach as high as about a medium sized building in New York City. The rich get richer and move high up, literally, and leave this massive cloned army of uni-browed thugs with low IQs at the former top, now bottom, with some horribly voiced acted mad scientist pulling the strings on a bionic armed thug bent on the establishment’s demise.

If you asked me right now if you should try or buy Drug Wars I would tell you to avoid it at all costs. There is nothing that I can see with in Drug Wars that would warrant it to cost anything, let alone $10. It’s not fun, it doesn’t look good and it’s full of bugs. I really hate to rag on a game so hard, but when a game is this bad there is nothing you can do about it. It just really is that bad and I’d be surprised if anyone on this planet could find this game fun or even mildly interesting. So the final verdict, save your ten bucks and buy Zeno Clash instead.

+ Magnificent CryEngine 2 gives the game what should be a solid base
+ Straightforward, no holds barred shooter
+ At $9.99 it wont put your wallet on ice

– It’s buggy on all fronts
– Story is campy and poorly written
– The gameplay is simply too generic and not fun