I booted up Merchants of Brooklyn like any good jury duty appointee – with a complete lack of knowledge of the subject at hand. I had never heard of the title or its recently patched in sub-game Drug Wars (which is how Steam knows the game). I hadn’t even heard of the developer Paleo Entertainment. How I wish I could return to my ignorant state.
Merchants of Brooklyn (as it is credited on the company’s website) starts off well enough. Players are introduced to Mateo, one of the Neanderthals cloned to provide a working class for the lower parts of now-flooded NYC. As the story deepens, players find that Mateo was a champion gladiator, fighting for his own survival until his arm was removed by a chainsaw. During recuperation, the doctor gifted our avatar with a small upgrade – a bionic, transforming arm that is able to "download" new guns into itself (it’s the future so crazy crap can happen). With it, Mateo seeks revenge on his backstabbing high-brow boss.
The game quickly marred my initial excitement for CryEngine2-powered brutality. For starters, the title is loaded with Quality Assurance problems. Basic graphical glitches initially tarnished my experience, such as the title forgetting its dark roots and displaying a pretty rainbow across the side of the screen. New drivers didn’t help, and it reappeared on a second computer as well. The graphical glitches, as detrimental as they are to ruining immersion, were mere gnats in the insect metaphor of fail. General physics inconsistencies such as shooting through doors or walls, ridiculous collision detection, and unintelligible explosions proved to be the nest of flies in my ointment. Then I ran smack into the mother of all QA missteps, the spider of our metaphor, a crash to desktop. Not once or twice, but dozens of times.
Generally these problems, though egregious, can be overlooked if the core game play is fun. Don’t worry, the game sucks too. Merchants of Brooklyn offers nothing to a gamer, budget or hardcore. There are so many failings aspects of general game design that they are best shown in bullet point to reduce your pain, and in case the developers come looking for a synopsis.
- The story disappears after the introduction.
- The weapons are earned randomly. Guns should be better than your arms, right? Wrong. The projectile flingers are so horribly designed and balanced that pummeling your enemy, even the robots, into submission is far more viable (especially when you considering the lack of ammo).
- The little voice-over work is incredibly forced. Think a man trying to speak like a woman.
- Long load times for poorly designed levels.
- Incredibly repetitive in every way.
I hoped that Paleo Entertainment would surprise me. MoB even started off well. The music rocked, the story intrigued me, and the visuals and art direction are acceptable. Everything else about this title is an utter failure, especially the complete lack of basic QA testing. I tried to get past the flood of technical errors, but it’s just too great to ignore.