The Purge: Anarchy – StreetWars


by Richard Hamer

It is eight o’clock on a cold Friday night, and I am cowered behind a fence in a disused car park, a crossbow gripped tightly in my hands. I am not alone; the rest of my team are with me. Some dart from cover to cover, sticking to the shadows, trying to get a view out on the street beyond. Others hide in nearby bushes, virtually invisible. They whisper to each other, map in hand, planning our next move.

They are out there – the Purgers, the hunters who have chased us, stalked us through the streets of London ever since our first panicked escape from the Town Hall not twenty minutes ago.

We only have a few hours – we know we have to move – but with each innocent pedestrian that passes I flinch in fear and retreat to the safety of the darkness, and I think:  This is a very intense game.

For this is The Purge: Anarchy, a survival chase game from the creators of water pistol based assassination game StreetWars, and very much modeled in the style of zombie panic-a-thon 2.8 Hours Later. An event to promote the home release of the film of the same name, The Purge: Anarchy has simple rules: for the next three hours all crime has been made legal. You and your team must get from safe house to safe house while Purgers – intimidating, mask wearing hoodlums armed to the teeth with water pistols and Nerf guns – attempt to hunt you down and take you out.

And they’re very good at it. After little more than an hour my little team has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. A friend who I had dragged in to this whole sorry endeavor is long since gone, our ammo is nearly depleted, and hope is all that remains. Holed up and surrounded on the second floor balcony of a tenement block, Purgers all around us, mocking us, emotions run high. A lady furiously rebukes me for wasting ammo as I fire ineffectually in to the crowd beneath, swearing madly. Later, out of sheer frustration, another guy throws our sole hand-to-hand weapon off the balcony. We all want to punch him.

Sensing a stalemate, our hunters eventually back off and we make a run for it. For a time things seem to go our way; we throw them off our scent and take the back streets, sticking to the shadows we near the third safe house. If we can reach it, then it means a chance to restock, upgrade our weapons and maybe – just maybe – stand a chance at surviving the night.

But, with shelter in sight, it all starts to go wrong. The third safe house is totally surrounded and we make a a foolish decision, borne of fear and a sense of the overwhelming odds that threaten to crush down on us:  We decide to split up.

I take a group of survivors off down the most direct route, a single foam brick our only weapon (me having long since relinquished my crossbow to a man with better aim). We head along the canals through pitch black darkness while somewhere out there, unseen, the Purgers shout bitter taunts into the cold air.

We emerge just across from the safe house, too late to realise how badly we’ve miscalculated. They are everywhere, and we run, blindly, screaming to stick together even as we rush in different directions. They emerge from every alleyway, every doorway, brandishing bats and guns and I know, in that moment, that all is lost. Surrounded, exhausted, I throw up my hands in surrender and I go down, as heroically as I can, in a thin, wet stream of gunfire.

But it isn’t over. A Purger slaps me on the back and laughs, while another approaches with a mask and a gun. I understand immediately: I’m one of them now. I may not have survived the night but now… now I am the night!

Unfortunately, like a well intentioned but ultimately flawed law designed to increase social cohesion via the annual culling of its weaker elements, at this point the whole game started to fall apart.

I had become a hunter, invincible and fearless, but what this largely involved was walking slowly between distant safe houses, doing nothing. There were simply too many Purgers; the night was – in fact – already lost, and there wasn’t much to do. So while the last survivors have all the fun, we march ceaselessly through bleakest Tower Hamlets to cut them off at the last safe house, at one point traveling the entire length of the Rotherhite Tunnel, once voted the tenth most dangerous tunnel in Europe.

The game concludes with a whimper rather than a bang, as a last ambush on the two final survivors ends in a confused failure, nobody really knowing what, if anything, they were supposed to do. How ironic, I think, as I squat behind a bush, water pistol in hand, a mask with “God” scrawled across it on my face. How ironic that a game all about a night of lawless anarchy would ultimately fail due to a lack of organisation.

So I walked away from The Purge disappointed but, in many ways, still thoroughly entertained. I had run and screamed, fired and missed, and discovered – not to my surprise – that I am no survivor. And, approaching the bright lights of the tube and the organised chaos of civilization, I felt ever thankful to know that life would never test me in that way.

On my way home, I threw my Purger mask in to the trash. I wouldn’t be needing that ever again.


The Purge: Anarchy is on Blu-ray and DVD Monday November 17th, 2014

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