Review: The Warriors

The Warriors

Platform: Xbox
Developer: Rockstar Toronto
Publisher: Rockstar
Players: 1-2

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The movie this game is based on came out in 1979, before most of Rockstar’s target demographic was even born. Someone on the Rockstar designer team has massive indie cred and must have had an incredible pitch together when they green-lighted this. After all, most movie-to-game attempts have been dismal even when working with the advantage of having a current fanbase familiar with the movie. And since no remakings of the classic flick are arriving with the game, Rockstar is banking on good game design and the given rich storyline from the movie, which really was a no-brainer to convert to a videogame anyways.

The original movie focuses on The Warriors and their quest to return to their homeland of Coney Island, after a mass inner-city gang convention goes chaoticly wrong. The videogame takes a step to the left, and wisely creates a back story to the most infamous gang of the movie: The Warriors.

As one works through the game (with numerous ‘flashback missions’), the player fights his way through various scenarios that show the rise of The Warriors and the conquering of their home turf. Playing as each of the main characters fills out the storyline which climaxes in the games last third, as that plays pretty much through the original films storyline.

The gameplay is primarily combat based, with a multitude of easy-to-master combinations that flow well in the game and make for some brutal hand-to-hand combat. A few targeting issues arise when dealing with mass enemies, but it’s a minor flaw. Bopping skulls and crackin’ heads never came so naturally.

The action is broke apart by chase sequences, destruction marathons, various fighting mini-games and the ever present ‘tagging’ opportunities, which is basically tracing a line with the left thumbstick (simple, and yet strangely addicting). Much thought was given to the tempo of the gameplay to keep it from getting repetitive, and that’s truly where The Warriors excels. Numerous optional mini-missions and some workout-upgrading fill out the game between story driven levels. Mugging, jackin’ car stereos and destroying shops for money brings out the thug in each character. There is even a side-scrolling old-school Street Fighter-style version of the game that unlocks once you beat the story. Plus a rumble mode of unlockable characters from the game allow for some ‘create your own gang’ type battles.

Two player is genius here. At any point, another player can join in and play side by side. When their characters are too far apart to display on the same screen, the game automatically switches to a split screen mode, and rejoins to full screen once players are close enough again.

Graphics are mostly of the burned out and graffiti soaked city, but would you want anything else? The levels are tight and easy to navigate, and change mostly to reflect the gang who controls that turf. There’s enough blood and plenty of foul language which are standard fare from the Rockstar camp and appropriate considering the source material.

The musical score is lifted directly from the movie, so while not offering a lot there, it’s accurate to the movie, right down to the lipstick lips of the female DJ spinning the tunes and announcing the news of each gangs defeat.

Rockstar nailed that elusive element of capturing a movie’s essence and distilling that into an action/adventure/fighting game. There is depth and variation to the game play that is richly immersed around the classic films storyline. As a console game, The Warriors should entertain plenty, even if one hasn’t seen the movie, but the recommended move would be to view the film, then play the game. Not only will you enjoy the game that much more, but you’ll actually get those rare Warriors references by comedians and musicians. Go rule New York.

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