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The Warriors

Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Take 2/Rockstar
Developer: Rockstar

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PS2 Review - 'The Warriors'

by Thomas Wilde on Nov. 28, 2005 @ 12:39 a.m. PST

The Warriors is based on the 1979 Paramount Pictures cult classic movie. Developed by Rockstar Toronto, The Warriors expands the stylized cinematic journey of the film into a gritty interactive experience set in 1970s.

Genre: Action/Fighting
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Toronto
Release Date: October 17, 2005

Buy 'THE WARRIORS': Xbox | PlayStation 2

I'll be the first one to admit that I wasn't sure what the hell Rockstar was thinking on this one. It's one thing to do a licensed game; every developer does it at some point. It's quite another to, seemingly without rhyme or reason, decide to release a game based on a 1979 cult movie that most people have heard quoted, but haven't seen.

The Warriors, however, isn't bad at all. It's a squad-based beat-'em-up with a slightly old-school feel, matching the lingo and dress of the late 1970s to a game that combines elements of Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt into a surprisingly cohesive whole. It's not without its quirks and little frustrations, though.

The game actually begins a few months before the gang summit that marks the beginning of the film, with the initiation of Rembrandt, a talented tagger, into the Coney Island Warriors street gang. Over the next ninety days, you'll guide the Warriors as they struggle to get respect, earn cash, and get up by taking on the other gangs - all the other gangs - in the New York area.

Your 50 bucks gets you a lot of game. You can play the story mode to unlock content for Rumble Mode, a two-player brawler that pits you singly or in groups against rival gangs, or ditch the plot entirely after a certain point and run rampant on the Warriors' Coney Island turf, GTA sandbox-style.

In a given mission, you'll control one of the nine chief members of the Warriors, with one to four other gang members riding shotgun. Your goals usually involve laying down graffiti to mark your territory or disrespect another gang's; beating the hell out of every gang member to cross your path; tracking down a specific enemy; and/or earning cash through acts of petty vandalism, assault, and theft. "Power-ups" involve earning enough money by boosting car stereos or mugging pedestrians to score a painkilling inhalant called flash from local dealers.

Why, yes, this is eminently suitable for children! I'm glad you asked. Make them play it. It'll be great.

Most of the game involves street combat, which plays out a lot like a more complex version of Manhunt (which makes sense, since the games share parts of the same engine). You've got access to light and heavy unarmed attacks, a powerful roundhouse swing, some grab moves, and a wide assortment of random weapons. The Warriors absolutely loves to swamp you with opponents, especially if you get the attention of local police, but your AI backup is usually pretty good about keeping most of them off you.

Absolutely frantic gang battles can erupt at a moment's notice, but with a few very rare exceptions, you won't have to deal with slowdown or worse, getting helplessly stomped by an overwhelming horde of opponents. The presence of the other Warriors also means that despite the odds, you're actually going to have the time and space to use all of these moves you've got. You can go ahead and go for a reverse faceslam against a wall, or try for a Warrior's special super combo, because you won't get clocked in the back of the head before the move's finished.

There are a few weak points in the game, naturally. It's very difficult to avoid getting nailed by the cops in the free-roaming Coney Island area, as they sometimes appear omnipresent and omniscient; you so much as think about jacking a stereo and they appear in groups of six.

The automatic targeting system that the game uses for hand-to-hand combat can also be a pain, especially when you're trying to run away from a fight. Your characters really seem to want to mess somebody's world up, so in the event that you're outnumbered thirty or so to one and you're supposed to be running away, they'll often resist you. They'll start circle-strafing rather than running, and while you can turn that off with a tap of the thumbstick, that's enough time for you to get dogpiled by angry mimes. (Yes, I said angry mimes. Don't ask.)

You'll also run into a few really difficult mission objectives now and again, but The Warriors is a lot better about that kind of thing than Rockstar's usual offerings. Here, the really difficult objectives are fully optional, and are usually made thus by a lack of cash or a strong police presence or something like that. They're often difficult, but they aren't as crazy as a few GTA missions I could name.

Finally, The Warriors on PS2 moves smoothly and plays very well, but I have to admit, it's a good example of how the PS2 hardware's starting to age. I've been spoiled by other systems at this point, so the comparatively crude character renders of The Warriors don't do the game any favors, particularly when combined with the fashions and hairstyles of 1979. The music and voice acting are up to Rockstar's usual high standards, and the animation's smooth enough that a little crudity's not that big of a deal. It's worth mentioning, though.

I'm not one of Rockstar's strongest defenders among the gaming media, but when they do something right, I like to say so. Despite how strange an idea it was, and is, The Warriors is one of the most consistently excellent beat-'em-ups to be released on consoles in the last few years, and if there's any justice, it'll be the shot in the arm that the genre desperately needed. It combines a lot of typically dissonant elements into a smooth, polished package, and despite a few small problems, it's well worth your time.

Score: 8.9/10


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