The Warriors review
Something you out to come out and play with
Usually, developers opt to make games based off of timeless or current licenses. Rockstar decided to raise awareness for a cult classic. Good for them.
The reason you'd want to make a licensed game, typically, is to just make more money, which is why you usually see flavors of the month, or timeless classics like Star Wars and Spiderman, but Rockstar chose The Warriors because they wanted to raise awareness of it. The Warriors wasn't like Back To The Future or Ghostbusters; it was a cult classic. Reviewers back during its release (1979) weren't really into it, calling it exploitative and superficial, although teenagers and Ronald Reagan loved it. It also influenced certain movie goers to vandalise and murder, so it stopped being advertised and security had to hang in the cinemas so that if people were to mimic the movie, they could be stopped. But how could impressionable youth not act out scenes from a movie about gangs who graffiti the city and beat rival gangs up? Well, yeah, there was a little more to it than that, but that's what it's ultimately about. Sounds like a great concept for a game, doesn't it? Yeah, but Rockstar had a different idea - why not a prequel to get to know more about the Warriors?
In the movie, all the gangs in New York had to attend a summit organized by Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful gang. It was regarding a citywide truce so that the gangs could control the entire city. Most of the gangs loved the idea, but one random gang member from another gang responded by shooting Cyrus with a smuggled gun, and blames the Warriors, which makes the other gangs want to take them down, forcing them to flee. That's also how the game starts off, although after that scene, it skips back a few months to about the time when the Warriors were forming together and giving everyone grief through stealing car stereos and beating the crap out of other gangs. It details how Cleon and Vermin started the gang and got more members, as well as the rivalries between other gangs, especially in regards to the other gang from Coney Island, the Destroyers. Because of all of this, you end up feeling quite attached to these characters, and the last 25% of the game - which is directly tied to the movie - feels even more meaningful. The movie didn't explain a whole lot; it was basically either "run like hell" or "fight fight fight", with some dialogue here and there... it might've been an interesting and awesome movie to watch, but deep storytelling wasn't exactly its strongest suit.
With all that said, don't go in expecting "the warriors of justice" or anything like that - although the Warriors are the main protagonists and likeable, they're still street thugs at the end of the day. They're morally bankrupt and aren't above doing what street thugs do best. The dialogue follows suit by being blunt and curse-ridden, which goes along with the hard edged atmosphere, but if you prefer more "sophisticated" dialogue, maybe this story isn't for you. In fact, if you weren't really a fan of the movie, the story won't interest you much.
Never fear, though, because the gameplay is reasonably good. For the most part, it's a standard beat em up where you meet up with rival gang members and beat them to a bloody pulp. You have weak, strong and grapple attacks at your disposal, which can be used to perform combos, and you can also find weapons every now and again to really lay the smackdown on these clowns. The combat system is never really deep, though it's not like street gangs ever went above and beyond with fighting styles - usually, it's just a few blows to the head and then a broken bottle twisted in your face, or a lead pipe right upside your head. In an attempt to try and make it seem deeper though, you can command the other Warriors to either fall back or get in there through a simple squad command system (although it would've been a little better if it was done with the D-pad instead of holding R2 and using the right stick, but that's just me). Another attempt at this is through some stealth elements, in which you must stay in complete darkness so you don't alert policemen. You'll have to throw some items to draw their attention while you sneak past them. There's actually a fair bit to the system, although for the most part, you'll just be beating people up - the squad command system and stealth parts are just different flavored icings on the cake.
A couple of things will give you some grief during combat. For one thing, the targeting system will automatically target one person... and will STAY on that person until you get more on screen, which might take a bit of time; until then, you got that one guy to beat down. And how about some of these missions that require you to run away? When they get close, one will be targeted, and your movement will be slowed down because when you target someone, you'll be moving as if you're fighting them in the streets, even though in this instance, you're trying not to fight... I would've preferred pressing the R2 button or something to target, like with Zelda's targeting system! The other problem is the camera, which isn't bad, but then there are instances where you'll be fighting in tight spaces, and it'll be hard to see what's going on because it'll be right up against the walls, and since it's usually one gang against another, it's easy to beat down your gang members instead of the members of the other gang, and quite frankly, this gets really annoying after a while.
Although combat is the primary focus, there are some other things to it. For one thing, there will be times you'll need money to buy spray cans and these drugs known as "flash" so that you can keep yourself alive. Money is gotten by stealing. You can either mug citizens, rob stores, or snag a radio from inside cars. You'll need to play a few mini games in order to be successful. Mugging requires you to rotate the left stick until the controller vibrates, and you'll need to hold the stick at the position where it vibrates until the bars are filled for a successful mugging. Breaking into stores brings up three circles, and you'll need to press X at the right time so you don't set off any alarms. Finally, jacking cars requires you to rotate the left stick before the harvesting can begin... after smashing the car window, that is. Just keep an eye out for policemen, because they like to beat you up if you steal, and they can make for some tough customers, making you grateful for handy ally AI that can do a good job of covering your butt.
Since I mentioned that you'll need to buy spray cans, I might as well explain, though since the concept revolves around street gangs, I don't know why I'd have to explain... well, there is actually more to tagging than just pressing X and watching a gang member tag a big red W in rival territory; you'll have to move the cursor along with it using the left stick. Just don't screw up, or you'll need to blow some money on extras - unless you're doing certain missions that give you infinite cans.. but it still helps to not screw up.
The Warriors is mission based, giving you either story missions, flashback missions (allowing you to dive into more backstory), and street missions (just some odd jobs for people out on the streets). The base is a hub to host story missions, both current and old, in case you'd like to replay some favorites (ahh, the days before achievements/trophies took over the lives of countless people). It also hosts some bonus stuff, like some mini games that can increase your endurance, or a radio for updates around New York, or other Warriors that you can talk to, though you'll probably want out on the streets to rack up some extra cash. New York isn't quite as lively as any of the cities in the Grand Theft Auto games, though finding people shouldn't be too tricky thanks to a handy dandy radar... it's not the best set up in the world, though it at least gives you something more than just menus and slamming you straight into missions, and the bonus goodies can help out in a jam during story missions, plus the flashback and street missions tend to be pretty fun, so what's stopping you from doing these outside missions?
The graphics are good, but considering that this is Rockstar, you can't really expect them to be at Final Fantasy X quality (basically, really good PS2 graphics). The characters look like stoned ragdolls. On top of that, there isn't much in the way of detail. Textures are there, but they're pretty basic, like an early PS2 game instead of something that's been released at about the same time as Shadow Of The Colossus, a GREAT looking PS2 game. The colors are very good, making up for the lack of technical prowess. It's gritty, dirty, and reminiscent of the movie. Authentic is the name of the game here, folks. The hairstyles, architecture and graffiti - it's all there in all their glory, and it's looking good!
The sound here is exceptional. The original score from the movie in present here, along with a number of licensed songs that were either featured in the film or from the same time period. Those of you who have watched the movie will feel waves of nostalgia as familiar themes are played at the right times, and even for those who played the game before watching the movie (me, for instance), the soundtrack will sound pretty cool, getting you into the action with its grittier hits, or immersing you into the mould with some ambient tracks. The voice acting is also good. I hope you nostalgics out there don't mind if most of the actors aren't reprising their roles... 26 years could do a lot to people. Either way, the delivery of the lines is a lot like the lines themselves - blunt and to the point with no frills or any of that crap.
The Warriors is a great example of how to make a licensed game. It took Rockstar 3 years to make this game - believe it or not, that actually says a lot when you consider how most developers just rush out a game to cash in on the newest movie that's making lots of money itself. As well as being one of the few good licensed games, it's also one of the few good 3D beat em ups. Oh, sure, the camera and targeting systems are a bit of a pain, and the graphics aren't that great, but who cares when the rest of the game is this well made?
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