Hmm, dilemmas, dilemmas. I have a problem with Warriors for the following reason. It has two things going for it - it's French and it's a beat 'em up -and it has two things against it - it's French and it's a beat 'em up. What's an honest reviewer supposed to do?
Putting aside the humorous xenophobia for the moment, let me concentrate on my real problem- the fact that it's a beat 'em up. Now, I know that thanks to games like Mortal Kombat, the fine art of violent disagreement has become the gaming phenomenon of the '90s, but I have to confess that I never boarded the beat 'em up bandwagon. It all seemed somewhat pointless to me. In fact, I'll go further, I positively abhorred the things. I would take every opportunity to poison your otherwise delectably open minds away from them. "Feel free to express opinions," I'd cry. "Challenge the state, oppose injustice and make a stand for what is right. But should I find you dabbling in the murky twilight of Street Fighter II then please banish yourself from my sight as I have not the energy to do it for you."
So it is with a heavy heart and a head bowed in shame that I write the following sentence, a sentence that will reveal me for who I really am, and that, hopefully, will cause you to lay siege to the PC, demanding my head on a platter for betraying you all. Warriors is rather good actually. There, I said it. Do with me as you will.
It ain't what you do...
In fact, Warriors is rather splendid, actually. I'll confess that I have not played the pc versions of SFII or Mortal Kombat, so I kannot, sorry, cannot say whether it's as good as either of them (hence the lack of an "In Perspective" box on these pages), but I can tell you that as combat games go, Warriors is fast, fun, frenetic and hugely enjoyable. What's more, it's thoroughly playable from the keyboard. No really. Instead of relying on a thousand different fire buttons for a thousand different types of attack, you're just given your four basic movement controls and two attack buttons, and through a combination of position to your enemy, current onscreen action and combination keys pressed, you can perform a bewildering array of moves.
All of which seem impressively intuitive, too. Normally when I've dabbled with a game in this genre, my tactic has been to push as many buttons on the control device as possible, desperately hoping that I'll survive (not that I ever do). In Warriors, though, it's a very different kettle of piscis. For example, when I perform a flying forward kick followed by a three-hit combination move, ending up with a special move to the head, it's because that's exactly what I intended to do (and that I'm playing in two-player mode without an opponent to make sure I don't get hit back). Perhaps that's why Warriors appeals to me where so many other beat 'em ups don't. That feeling of being in control and knowing what you're doing. For once I don't feel lost. Thoroughly outclassed everytime I play another human, but never lost.
It's dot-tabulous, mate!
Much has been made of the graphics and the new "Bio Motion" techniques. Apparently the characters in Warriors have been made up of dots rather than polygons, allowing them to have a much more realistic feel and look. Well this means little to me (you could have told me that they'd been made of blue cheese for all I know), so all I can say is that the characters do look very impressive in the high-resolution svga mode and not-at-all-bad-yet-slightly-blocky in low-res vga. They certainly look better than the various characters in other games, but I've a feeling this is going to be a matter of personal taste. I've already heard several people saying that they don't like the look at all, while others have practically dehydrated due to over-salivation. What really impresses me is the music. 14 heavy metal (or hard rock at the very least) soundtracks can be played directly from the cd or used as background music during the fight. As with the game type itself, I've never really been a "metalhead" (not having had any body piercing, tattooing or having ever been to the mud pit that is Donnington), but the music really suits the game. Frantic guitar playing just seems so right when you're putting your fist through the eye socket of an opponent.
Codes, secrets, cheats and (anag.)
As you'd expect. Warriors has all the usual secret moves, hidden extras and so on, that have become de rigeur for this type of game. A special cheat menu is available (on finding the right password, of course - keep watching the Troubleshooter skies), allowing access to extra characters (including a bizarre gnomic gardener and a playboy bunny, yes you heard me right), different game modes and even a rotating 3D Virtua Fighter playing area. Each character has various special moves and optional weapons (baseball bats, tomahawks, grenades etc.), some of which are detailed in the manual, others of which you have to discover for yourself. Perhaps most impressively of all are the, ahem, "interactive backgrounds". Basically these are things like outcroppings you can hang from or rocks you can jump off, but they all help to add an extra blob of icing to an already overly-sweet cake.
Like I said at the beginning, I've never been much of a beat 'em up fan but Warriors has won me over. As with most of the French games we see in this country, it oozes playability and style (whatever we might say about them in this magazine - you know we don't really mean it), and the overall impression is a beat 'em up that actually has a little bit more thought behind it than just, "How can we keep the kids hooked until the sequel and the merchandising appears?" Of course, Atreid will probably go and ruin it now by producing a vacuous sequel with the word "Turbo" in the title somewhere, but that's a fight for another day.
Download Savage Warriors
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP