Review by Shonic

"Even this game is notoriously incompetent"

The beat ‘em up genre has never had a shining track record. Even though classic games like the original Final Fight and Streets of Rage 2 brought innovation and a whole lot of fun to the genre, there has never been a shortage of lackluster games that succeed in virtually kicking the genre in the groin, spitting in its face and throwing it into a busy street. Gang Wars is one of those pathetically horrible games, with copious amounts of clichés and absolutely dreadful gameplay.

The plot is something directly out of a twisted mad-lib of generic plots, which goes a little something like this: _____ has kidnapped _____’s girlfriend, _____ , and imprisoned her in his headquarters. Now _____ and his friend _____ must rescue her and save the city from certain destruction! For this game, ADK liberally filled in the blanks with Jaguar, Max, Cyndie, Max, and Jack. And, from there, the plot rolls on as you face incompetent punks, soldiers, gangsters, monks, and, essentially, whatever stereotypical baddie Jaguar can possibly throw at you. After going through the mean streets, a factory (with the occasional elevator, of course), more streets, and a Chinese temple, among other things, you finally get to the headquarters of the oh-so-very-evil Jaguar and settle the score in a very anti-climactic showdown. But that’s not all! You have the option of either beating the crap out of Jaguar or letting him take the time to signal a helicopter, slowly get on it, and gradually escape with his life to once again concoct another devious plan that will somehow let him take control of the city. These (sort of) lead to different endings, each of which make you depressed as you’ll soon realize that you’ve spent forty-five minutes of your time stopping the evil plans of a man who looks more like a country bumpkin than an evil genius.

The gameplay is better than the plot, but that’s like saying that one game on Action 52 is better than another. Both are entirely too bad to compare them in any kind of good and respectable way. From the beginning, you can choose between four settings for your character. He can have high power, high speed, high toughness, or he can be somewhere in the middle of the road, in a manner of speaking. There isn’t much of a difference between the four, but high power tends to speed up the pace of this awful game, so I’m all for it. Now it’s time to clean up the mean streets! From here the madness begins as you repeatedly beat up a crowd of identical-looking lackeys of Jaguar, picking up the occasional beer bottle that you can beat their heads in quite effectively with. After you get far enough, you’ll face a big and buff punk that you can only assume is the boss of that particular level. After you beat him down repeatedly, your character (Jack or Max, depending on if you’re first or second player) leaps into the air with the glee of a school girl, signifying that you actually did beat the guy down permanently and successfully completed the level. Afterwards, you’re treated to points and the opportunity to pump up Jack or Max’s stats. This process repeats about four or five times over until you finally get to the headquarters of the not-so-devious Jaguar and proceed to kick his butt (with a vengeance, of course) and rescue Max’s girlfriend. I know that this doesn’t sound very appealing on paper, but let me tell you: it’s actually a lot worse.

The quality of the sound in Gang Wars is first evident in the opening scene, most likely the first thing you’ll see when you start the game. The monotone, almost robotic voices of the punks are accompanied by strange synth tunes that that sound like the result of a composer trying with all of their might to make a generic panic song but somehow failing miserably. The music doesn’t get much better from there, but it’s almost forgivable, as all of the rest of the sounds in the game are faaaaaaar more irritating. As you fight, the hero grunts every half-second, and the lackeys of Jaguar laugh about twice as much. Keep in mind that there is no variation, at all, between any of the laughs of grunts. It was almost enough to make me throw my speakers into a farm combine and watch its slow, painful death. Crap, crap, crap!

The beat ‘em up genre was killed by pitiful, lackluster games like this. The only reason that I gave it a 2/10 was because there are actually beat ‘em up games that are worse than this one. Seriously.

Gameplay: 2
Music/Sound: 1
Graphics: 3
Replay: 1
Overall: 2


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 08/05/02, Updated 08/05/02


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