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Jeremy Jastrzab
04 Nov, 2005

The Warriors Review

PS2 Review | Attention fans of classic beat'em ups: It's time to come out and play!
Ever since the beginning of 3-D games, there have been a few gaming genres that have suffered. One of these is the good ol’fashioned beat’em up. Games like Double Dragon, Final Fight and Vigilante are fond in a lot of older gamers memory but there really hasn’t been anything reminiscent of them in a long time. The problem with the recent offerings, which include Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance and Spikeout: Battle Street failed to emulate the classic titles on every conceivable level. Developers have simply failed to grasp the concept of combining of classic 2-D brawling with modern 3-D conventions. However, the genre looks like it will suffer no more. Rockstar have jumped in the ring and using their exclusive licenses and previous gaming experience, look to bring brawlers back to the forefront of gaming.

To do this, Rockstar assigned rookie studio, Rockstar Toronto the task of recreating the classic 2-D brawler in modern 3-D fashion. Thankfully, they had the exclusive access to the properties of the 1979 cult classic, The Warriors. And as they say, to forward, you sometimes need to go back.

The Warriors would have never won an Oscar or a Golden-Globe but it was unique and provided a grounding some of today’s most common social nuances, particularly in America’s hip-hop communities. However, the movie’s other claims to fame include the insane cast of characters, the desperate struggle for survival (and other relevant themes) as well as unashamed violence and non-conformity. The story goes, that the boss of the most powerful gang in New York City, Cyrus, has called forth members from all the gangs across the network for a meeting on one night. While preaching his grand plan for the unification of all gangs in a bid to take over the city, the gang known as The Rogues, kill Cyrus and anarchy ensues. Nobody saw who did it but in typically rogue-like fashion, they place the blame on a small time gang from Coney Island, The Warriors.

Now, with over 10 000 gang members on their case, The Warriors have to survive the night and somehow make it back to Coney Island. However, fans of the movie already know all these. Thankfully, the game has been fleshed out so much that the movie only really encompasses the final quarter of the game. The beauty about this is that is not only is there a whole lot of game here but there is a great story that explains the events leading up to the meeting and the rise of The Warriors very nicely. This is at the slight expense of the movies events but it won’t make a difference to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Meet the Warriors

Meet the Warriors
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The focus of The Warriors is to create as much havoc, destruction and chaos with your fists and anything lying at your feet. To do this, the developers have made one of the best context-sensitive systems to be found in a beat’em up. 2-D gaming can’t be directly translated into a 3-D setting, not without the addition of 3-D conventions.

It seems simple enough at first, square is a weak attack, X a stronger attack and circle is a grab. These are the same whether your enemy is standing, on the floor in a grab. There are a few simple combos that involve these buttons but these aren’t the focus. You’ve got a few more (slightly) advanced combos that involve pressing square and X at the same time and these can be quite damaging, to your enemy.

There are a large amount of options that you have in a fight. When grabbing someone, you can slam them against a wall when close enough (which is disturbingly satisfying), toss them across the floor, put them on the ground or even get one of your gang members to lay a finishing hit on them or a tandem attack. It’s also possible to break out of enemy holds for a reversal. What is the real clincher here is that all these actions are simple and easy to learn. There’s no complex command input, it’s more a matter of your own reflex or how fast you can bash a button. Then there are things like counters, ground attacks, tackling and when you build up your rage metre through enough heavy hits, unleash the rage mode for a few seconds. Variety really is the spice of life.

Gang Wars are very common here

Gang Wars are very common here
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Another aspect that makes the system great is the simplicity in aiming for an opponent. Somehow, the developers have managed to come up with one of the only games to respond fluidly to subtle changes in the direction that the analogue stick is pointing. Point at no one, your attacks can range 360 degrees, point in front to smack the person in front of you then quickly flip round to take out the guy behind you hold a plank. When grabbing someone, you can push towards them to kick them away or pull behind you to throw them into a flaming garbage can. When hurling projectiles, the auto-aiming is surprisingly precise. Again, all you need to do is point at the person you want to throw it at; it’s really that simple.

Speaking of projectiles, you can pick up a lot of weapons along the way. The melee weapons range from wooden planks, to pipes, to clubs, to bolt cutters, to chairs, to baseball bats, to police nightsticks, to knives and blades. Then there are the bricks and bottles that are primarily used for throwing. The bottles can be smashed and used as a melee weapon as well. All melee weapons will eventually break but obviously bats and nightsticks will last longer then planks and pipes. The beauty with projectiles is that they’re not only used to throw at enemies. They can be used as distractions, which can be especially useful in some of the light stealth sequences.

Since you’re part of a gang, there are generally several of you walking around the streets at once. No gang could be complete without a leader and the character that you’ll be taking control of will be the leader for that mission. You’ll have a total of six commands at your fingertips, which can be accessed by pressing R2 and used the right analogue stick to pick your command. They cover most basic scenarios such as following the leader, scattering to avoid the cops and creating mayhem or getting into the brawling action. For the most part, your troops are responsive and are good enough at exhibiting independent actions.

The Baseball Furies are one of the more colourful and powerful gangs in the game

The Baseball Furies are one of the more colourful and powerful gangs in the game
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The fact that the AI is so advanced, not just for your troops but enemies as well is a testament to the developers, especially when you look at the stupid mugs running around in GTA. Apart from being aggressive with the more advanced gangs being ruthless, the enemy AI is adaptive. If you fail a grapple, they’ll be onto you and you’ll have to change your tactic. Than there are some will stand back and throw things from afar while others are in the thick of things. It doesn’t always pan out that way but the fact that this AI is so much more advanced than so many similar games is an amazing achievement.

With the fighting system being so surprisingly deep, you’d expect that the rest of the game wouldn’t be able to provide much outside of it. Well anyone who expects that will find out that they’re very wrong. The mission structure is somewhat conventional but there are a lot of activities thrown in between. For example, you may be asked to go to a club but when you get there you need a certain amount of funds to get in. So how can you get money?

There are a couple of ways to get money. You can mug people, steal car radios or loot a store. These activities aren’t always necessary but are good distractions from the normal flow of things. Everything that doesn’t involve fighting has been pretty much turned into a mini-game of sorts. When stealing a car radio, the player needs to quickly turn the left analogue stick to simulate the screws being removed. Money can also be used to buy health refills, known as “flash” and cans of spray paint. The spray paint will be used to leave your mark over an opponent gang’s mark. You get to do this by tracing a pattern on-screen, usually a “W”. Some tags are necessary to complete missions, other complete bonus objectives.

Another aspect that has been added by the developers that sets the game apart is the character diversity. Each Warrior has his own set of stats and slight variations in moves. Some like Cleon and Ajax are much better fighters while someone like Rembrandt is a weaker fighter but has much better handling when tagging.

Break dancing competition

Break dancing competition
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There are a total of eighteen levels that make up the story of the events prior to those of the movie and all the way through to the end of the movie. Things aren’t confined to this. There are five extra levels that are set a year before the main story and explain how this gang known as The Warriors was formed. Then on top of that, you have a home base. From this base you can access the next level, the bonus level, listen to the radio, work out or head out to explore Coney. There are bonus objectives that lighter manner than the story missions. They’re done well and are not only a good diversion but they unlock several extras. Some include bums giving useful information if you give them a dollar or brass knuckles for your leader.

Often in a mission, you’ll be placed in these old-school situations where you need to bash down some buttons to run away or run and jump across some rooftops. Most of these are in situations where you can’t fight and need to run. Given that there is a fair bit of running in the movie, you’d expect this to be translated into the game in a gameplay friendly manner. These parts are slightly reminiscent of the sequences in Resident Evil 4 so they really can’t be too bad. Some of them a bit unforgiving but they reload at the beginning and most don’t take more than a few minutes. The bosses have an old-school feel as well, mainly because most are about 7-foot tall, immune to grapples and have many little cronies to help them.

Rumble mode is another successful diversion from the main story. It’s basic multiplayer with numerous different game modes. You can take a gang or you can customise a gang and partake in a few different kinds of games. These include straight up brawls, where the last man standing wins or modes like King of the Hill, where you defend the hill for as long as possible or the very entertaining Royal Rumble, where you play on top of a building and attempt to knock off all the opponents from a roof top. It’s a bit disappointing that you can only have a max of two players but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t enjoyable, especially that there are hundreds of characters to unlock and choose from (we’re not just talking about gang members) and there can be some nice and intense CPU battles.

Finally, there is no way a game like this would be complete without a pick-up and play co-op mode. You are virtually never alone in any of your missions and at virtually any time, a second player can come in, press start and a 2P sign will appear over the head of the next best gang member. Of course, player one will always have most control but the second player brings in many more tandem attacks and you can tackle multiple objectives at a time. It adds just as much as you’d expect to the game. There are a few issues, namely the how easily disorientated a player can become or how it can sometimes feel awkward.

There are plenty of these moments in the game

There are plenty of these moments in the game
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As a game, The Warriors is excellent. While the overall premise is quite simple and it is easy to dismiss the game as mishmash of other Rockstar, there is just such a great variety of the thing that you can do that is topped off with the best brawling system in years. While some players looking for a more refined and complex experience will most likely be disappointed, there is more than enough to satisfy anyone with a remote liking of action in video games. Some things don’t quite come together. The camera struggles at times and it doesn’t control that well, as well as disorientating the player at times. The controls, despite their precision still feel loose and unrefined at times. The only other major complaint is that there are a few too many occasions that it feels like the first game from a developer.

The Warriors represents one of the most authentic and best uses of a license in a very long time. It is obvious that the developers put a lot of time and effort into really fleshing out this image of New York in the late 1970’s, before it was cleaned up. Not only that, but some of the excellent facets of the movie, such as the unique gangs and the feeling of darkness and that the streets are owned by the gangs have been translated in a near perfect manner. There seems to have been particular attention paid to flashing out the unique and colourful nature of the gangs. It’s all done very well.

Graphically, while the game is authentic to the source material, it quite live up to the lofty standards that we hold in this day. All the gangs have been recreated in the most authentic manner imaginable and are in all their colourful and unique glory. Environments look authentic as well as suitably dark and moody. However, one look at the graphics is unlikely to fill anyone with awe. They’re not particularly detailed and there are a lot of repetitive, ugly models, blurry textures and a general weak look. At least it stands up presentation wise with some nicely directed cinematic sequences, both unique and from the movie.

The presentation is very good

The presentation is very good
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The audio is the game is absolutely superb. Every sound effect is spot on, from the shattering of bottles, bursting of garbage bags and even when a 2-by-4 breaks over someone’s head. The music has been adapted from the movie and has been rerecorded and replaced perfectly to suit the moods. There have even been some new additions. However, the winner has to be the voicing. Backed up by brilliant dialogue, some of which set up some of the most well known phrases of today, a lot of the original voices have been reprised from the movie (well, the ones that are alive anyway) and a fantastic job has been done. It’s even better than the movie. However, there are some fantastic support jobs with people shouting out of their windows telling you to keep quite, other gang members having deep conversation, plenty of taunts in battle and an announcer that has seemingly hundreds of lines.

A lot of people have noticed the existence of The Warriors and have been asking me, is it any good? Well, it can easily be considered one of the best beat’em ups in recent times. It does what others fail to do. It provides a suitably deep fighting system that has plenty of potential destruction and hurt. It provides plenty to do in between the fighting. It provides options to getting to your objective and plenty of ways to get around tough situations. It provides a myriad of things to do and unlock. It provides a lot of single and two-player fun. It provides some great action that isn’t too inaccessible for casual gamers yet still provides a nice challenge. Finally, it provides one of the best uses of an IP in recent memory. The Warriors does so many things right and well, that whatever it’s done wrong can be easily overlooked. It’s time to get it and play.
The Score
The Warriors does so many things right that it is almost impossible to ignore by anyone remotely interested in beat'em ups, shameless action or even the movie itself. It may not be that complex and it might feel a bit weary towards the end. However, this combination of Rockstar experience and a fantastic license has given the gaming community one of the best 3-D beat'em ups ever made. So to all you old-school fans, it's time to come out and play!
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related The Warriors Content

The Warriors Review
08 Mar, 2007 Go out and play anywhere.
The Warriors Preview
06 Feb, 2007 Go out and play, anywhere.
The Warriors coming to the PSP
19 Oct, 2006 It's time to come out and play...again.
5 Comments
8 years ago
Quote
one of the best beat’em ups in recent times
not saying much icon_wink.gif

i was wondering about this, it looked good, but like you said, beat-em-ups have been on dubious quality for a long time. might add it to the christmas wish-list.
8 years ago
Ive never heard of 'the warriors' before.Ive read the gamespot review etc and they talk about in it a fashion where they assume that readers are familiar with the movie.Is it one of those country specific things...like say crocodile dundee is to australia?
8 years ago
yeah i didn't know about the film either, but when i heard about the game and said it's name to some friends, the first thing they asked was "like the film?"
8 years ago
well it did come out in 1979, so it's likely a generation old for most of us... it was released on DVD here a couple years back, and the Director's Cut was released here last week (I picked it up from JB real cheap)... anyway I only heard about it as it was referenced/sampled quite a bit in the Hip Hop I've listened to over the years, and it's quite a cult favourite among the Hip Hop crowd... great movie regardless though, and highly recommended for a couple hours of pure 70's style beat em up fun... looking forward to checking this game out

edit: fixed those grammatical errors
8 years ago
this game looks good. it didn't know about the film either untill my friends mum said the warriors was one of her favorite movies
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Rockstar Games
Developer:
  Rockstar Toronto

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