For a couple of years now in Japan, There have been some budget priced Playstation games coming from a few different developers. These games are no-frills versions of board games, arcade-style action and shooters, and many other categories. Recently, Take 2 Interactive has decided to produce it's own series of inexpensive Playstation software. The second of its budget-priced Playstation games, Grudge Warriors is a one or two player mission based tank shooter, and a really good deal for those gamers out there looking for good, cheap fun. For a ten-dollar game, its really quite impressive- 23 arenas, 11 different vehicles to choose from, loads of power-ups and weapons, and a split screen mode for 2 players. "But is it any good?" you're probably asking- Well, let's find out….
Gameplay is a cross between Twisted Metal and Gauntlet, with a bit of Vindicators thrown in for good measure. The plot is the usual war-torn future/rival gangs stuff, but the presentation is generally well done. In order to prove your mettle you have to pretty much lay waste to everything that's in your path, without getting blasted into dust yourself. You adjust your options (if you feel you need to), pick a tank, and the game begins. The first thing you'll notice is that the game looks very nice- a little bit first generation, but everything is solid, with no pop-up. If you can make it to the highest part of a level, you'll be able to see everything, which is really great. Secondly, the controls are well thought out and intuitive, and the auto-aim feature is great, as there are a lot of enemies in the game. You can also manually target objects, and send a warhead or megabolt at your opponent. There are generators, turrets and plenty of enemy tanks to blast and a wide variety of levels to blow stuff up in. As the levels are all small islands, it may seem as if there's not much to them, but you'll find lots of hidden tunnels and winding passages leading to parts of the islands that seem unreachable. There are also some really clever puzzles in the game disguised as hazards, and you'll find that you need to do a bit of thinking in order to pass most of them. Expect to spend at least a good hour finishing some of the levels here, as many of them are full of deathtraps, and enemies that won't go down easily.
Your tank is equipped with a basic unlimited fire cannon, but this just won't cut it against other armed units. Unfortunately, all of the other units in the game are armed, and out for your head. But, in lieu of ammo pickups, all the better weapons here use a single internal power source, and you have to continually refill your tank's cells at the power exchange units, located around each arena. Thing is, the units drain after each refill, and take a few minutes to recharge, so camping out near one is a bad idea, until you clear out the surrounding area. This adds a lot of strategy to what would otherwise be a non-stop shoot-em-up. There's also a bit of exploration required to locate and destroy the "Secret Prototype Droid" hidden in each level. More often than not, your mission will come to a quick and explosive end, should you attempt to take out the droid when you're not at full power or rush in, guns blazing. This makes you conserve your better weapons until you need them. The two-player deathmatch mode is surprisingly well done, with no slowdown, and the same clear graphics as in the single player game. I wish the arenas were a bit larger, but what's here is just as good as what's in the regular game, with no other enemies around.
So far, so good- but of course, a few minor problems do show up. The tanks tend to be a wee bit tricky to control at first, and you'll roll right off a cliff until you get the hang of things. But each vehicle handles a bit differently, so if you're patient, you'll deal with it (use the analog control!). The music is a bit on the hokey side at first, and could have benefited from a bit more drama, in my opinion, but again, it's not a game-killer. Actually, I kind of liked the techno-clown tunes in level 4 a lot. The loading times are a bit on the long side, but once again, you won't be tossing this one out the window for that reason. It's hard to mess up a tank game, and Tempest has done more than a decent job with this game. Some folks out there will no doubt find some fault with this one, citing it's bargain basement pricing and less than up-to-the minute graphics as reasons to not pick this one up, but too much eye candy will make your tummy ache, I always say…
All in all, Grudge Warriors is one of those really good games that would otherwise get overlooked by the masses simply because of all the better titles out there. But hopefully, a good amount of you out there won't let the low price point get in the way of some great, fast paced action. As for me, I can't wait to see what else Take 2 has in store for the PS…
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