Drug Wars / Merchants of Brooklyn Review

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Drug Wars/Merchants of Brooklyn Publisher: Paleo Entertainment
Developer: Paleo Entertainment

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Core Duo Processor or Better, 2 GB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible video card (such as nVidia GeForce 6800 GT or ATI Radeon 9800 Pro) or better, 900 MB HD space, internet connection, Windows XP or more recent operating system

More than one thousand years in the future, poorly cloned Neanderthals are the protagonists in a sub-human bloodsport that pits these harried hominids against one another in arenas of death. As an elite Neanderthal warrior, can you escape from the lowest levels of Brooklyn to wrest control of the city from the overclass?

Kyle Ackerman

In the far-flung future, life is grim – largely because Merchants of Brooklyn has crashed the computers that might have been used to build a better society. That's not the plot of Merchants of Brooklyn. That's just my experience struggling to make the game function. In truth, the game's fiction is more entertaining – unfortunately I had to learn it all from the game's official site, because I couldn't make Merchants of Brooklyn work well enough to decipher much of anything.

Merchants of Brooklyn

Merchants of Brooklyn is set around 3100 A.D., in a world where New York City is mostly underwater due to the effects of rising sea levels and global warming. A new city has been built on the rooftops of old Brooklyn, with society's elite living near the pinnacle of the new construction, and the patchwork islands near sea-level becoming a lawless zone. Furthermore, Neanderthals have been cloned to serve as cheap labor – when they aren't needed, such clones are simply dumped on Brooklyn's lower levels where they are often thrown into arenas to fight to the death.

The concept is as grimly entertaining as it is absurd, but the game just doesn't work. It's actually unfortunate that I ultimately managed to get the game working, because that meant that hours of dealing with technical issues culminated in a buggy game that has a long way to go to reach barely adequate. The technical problems weren't minor. Merchants of Brooklyn repeatedly crashed following the loading screens, often would display only parts of a texture and initially had no sound. After repeatedly tweaking the game and briefly running around partially rendered level geometry, I discovered that Merchants of Brooklyn had disrupted my audio drivers. An hour or so of additional tweaking and reinstalling my audio eventually left me with a game that worked... occasionally. There were still crashes to desktop so regular that I spent more time watching the splash screens and loading than actually playing.

I couldn't get through the game – not because of the difficulty – but because I felt that three hours of restarting the software for around twenty minutes of play took me well past the point when any sane human being would quit. What I saw of the game involved an incredibly stilted opening sequence with an horrific voiceover narrating interminable comic-style panels. This gave way to a series of levels in which I blasted toughs who happily rushed right into my gun barrel while oversexed and cartoonish bystanders cowered. Periodically, I got another over-the-top weapon that insufficiently distinguished itself from the last weapon. Also periodically, I fell through the level geometry or encountered some other bizarre bug. Quite often, the game just crashed. Had all the game's bugs been squashed, Merchants of Brooklyn would have merited a higher score, but not a lot higher.

Drug Wars

Drug Wars is, essentially, the multiplayer component of Merchants of Brooklyn. From what I saw, it looks infinitely better that Merchants of Brooklyn. In part, that's because it seems to play on thinly altered Far Cry maps – not surprising since the game uses the CryEngine 2 as its foundation. Sadly, I can't say much more about Drug Wars because I couldn't find anyone else playing. As the game screen points out, there need to be at least two people on a server before the game will start. I rode some boats around the water, ran around and hopped in some turrets, but aside from noticing that Drug Wars didn't crash on me, I never had a chance to experience actual play.

Despite the fact that Drug Wars/Merchants of Brooklyn can be purchased for only $10, there simply isn't a game to justify the purchase. The single-player doesn't work well enough to recommend, and the multiplayer is a ghost town. Take your money elsewhere.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 2, 2009 11:57 AM.

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