The Warriors was a 1979 action movie about a Coney Island gang that was framed for the murder of Cyrus, a powerful leader and hunted down by all the New York gangs. The movie has gained a cult status over the years and is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. Imagine my surprise when I first played SMASH + GRAB, a third person action moba by United Front Games, that feels like it’s heavily inspired by The Warriors.
In a futuristic corporate urban dystopia, you are the leader of a five member gang and you compete against others for loot, power and infamy. Beginning the game you choose your favorite character. There are nine leaders that you can choose from three factions, each one having different special peks and abilities. Then you can choose your leutenant that will back you up and has his own perk tree and also your three soldiers, controlled by AI that can be tailored to your playstyle.
The game is a moba, similar to the idea with games like Dota 2 and LoL, has a third person camera like Smite but it adds its own elements that make it pretty unique. As usual there is a map which is actually a part of the town with stores that you can destroy and steal the money, gun shops that you can arm yourself and your soldiers, crafting stations, air drops and venting machines that give you health, boost etc. You begin from one part of the map with your two allies that can be players or AI characters. Your goal is to reach the specific cash target of 50k dollars, and to manage that you need to be equipped correctly, destroy every store you find and battle the enemy players.
In the battle is the part that makes SMASH+GRAB unique and different from the other games of this genre. You don’t just click an arrow to the ground, you are actually taking part in the battle, throwing punches, performing grabs and reversals, and using your special abilities. This hands on approach makes the game feel like a brawler beat em up and it is actually very enjoyable. You will need to outsmart your enemy, especially if he plays a good game and he is not just button mashing. You will have to know when to counter and when to be on a left hook-right hook barrage. Your abilities are not there just for show and the moment you use them can really mean the turn of the tide in a battle.
The strategy element is also strong in SMASH+GRAB. There are three rounds in the game and in each one there are some stores that you can destroy to get money. You can play it sneaky and go around trying to avoid your enemies, stealing as much money as you can or you can gather with your team, meet at the town square with the other characters and have a brawl. Of course the strategy is deeper than that and believe me if you play with your friends and you communicate, you will have an amazing time.
We streamed the game on Hyper Light Up twitch channel with Kelfecil, our director, the moment we got it for review and we were both pleasantly surprised. You can watch our stream at the following video if you feel like it but I really need to write my thoughts down so you know where I am coming from and why I believe that SMASH+GRAB, even in Early Access, is worth it.
I do not play moba games, at all. I have tried most of them but they simply are not my cup of tea. Here’s how SMASH+GRAB won me over. Firstly, the setting reminds me a lot of New York of 1979, the place that the movie The Warriors took place. You have a gang that looks badass and over the top, that you can customise with clothing items, just like the gangs in the movie were. You even begin the game arriving in the map with the train. If you played The Warriors game on Playstation 2, then the action of SMASH+GRAB might even remind you the first stages of that game. So, heavy The Warriors references? Check!
Then, the actual strategy elements of the game that are present in mobas are also here. Communication is key and in combination with a good knowledge of your character, it will win you games. For a guy like me that really enjoys games that teamwork is key (Payday 2 anyone?) this is a game with very strong teamwork foundations.
Finally and most importantly, the action gameplay. I am a big fan of beat em ups and brawler games, since the era of Streets of Rage on Mega Drive. So, when you give me a game where I can punch, kick, counter, combo, throw and destroy my opponent, then my face shines like the midsummer sun in Greece. It’s really important to note that there is strategy when you actually battle enemies, it’s not just button mashing. As I mentioned before, you need to feel when it’s time for kicks, for counters or when you need to run away.
When a game like SMASH+GRAB can win a player like me, then it’s doing something very right. I believe the moba elements that many players of this genre enjoy are here and strongly implemented, and I also believe that the setting and the action oriented gameplay will bring even more players to the genre. United Front Games already offers a lot in the Early Access of the game, with many items, characters and perks to follow in future updates. Definitely worth checking.
SMASH+GRAB is currently on Early Access and you can buy it on Steam at a 15% discount, for the price of 16,99€