Purchasing Grudge Warriors is quite possibly the best purchase you can make on a limited entertainment budget, short of renting a high-quality game or film. Granted, the game's technology is decidedly dated, its premise is clichéd, and its play mechanics are quite bare boned, but when you consider the game's shovelware-esque US$10 price tag, Grudge Warriors' elegantly simplistic overall package really can't be beat.
The developer, Tempest, was apparently shooting for something along the lines of Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8. The premise of the game centers on several gangs of bloodthirsty motorists who pit their machines against each other in a fight for supremacy. Each of the 11 gangs boasts its own particular special weapon, which is more or less distinctive in its appearance, if not in its effect. The control scheme is nearly identical to what you'd find in the realm of vehicular combat: X accelerates your vehicle, the square controls the brake and reverse functions, and the shoulders cycle through your arsenal and fire your selected weapon. The circle and triangle allow you to toggle targets and auto-aim, respectively. The controls are decently functional in their simplicity, though don't expect to find any Vigilante 8-style specials contained therein; Grudge Warriors is, after all, a tight-budget title with little or no room for such flights of fancy.
The level design is markedly more circular than what we're used to seeing in V8-style games, more closely resembling first-person shooter deathmatch arenas than the sprawling, expansive boards native to the genre. Aside from your foes' fire, there are many third-party threats scattered throughout the levels, mostly in the form of wall-and ceiling-mounted turrets. In effect, the levels are tighter and more easily managed, and - given the limits placed on the number of possible inhabitants - much more practical for the purpose of Grudge Warriors than the huge, intricately detailed stages of Vigilante 8. While a single-player mode exists, it's pretty much devoid of any particularly drawing features - it's nothing more than a version of the two-player mode with some throwaway objectives, and it's best ignored by fans of meaningful gameplay.
Grudge Warriors' visual presentation is on par with first-generation PlayStation technology. The vehicle models seem shifty and unstable, and all the textures are very grainy and pixilated. In-game obstacles pop up in a most unbecoming way, materializing in front of your vehicle when they were invisible but a few yards away. The frame rate is constantly solid, though, and the game remains largely playable despite its graphical shortcomings.Tempest seemed to slack in the audio department, however. The sound effects are universally hissy, and the background tunes seem rather muddled and poorly mixed, often being drowned out by the questionably rendered explosion sounds. Again, none of this really compromises the very bare-boned experience offered by Grudge Warriors, whose accommodating price tag should probably be taken into consideration when evaluating the game's overall production quality.
If you're deathly bored, low on funds, and sick of every game your local video store stocks, then perhaps you'll want to check out Grudge Warriors. Deep down, the game isn't half-bad - just very lean when it comes to features and presentation. The game's mechanics are solid, if uninspired, so if you're looking for a cheap way to mindlessly blow a few hours, Grudge Warriors has got you covered.