The Warriors

Review

posted 10/24/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Xbox

It’s easy to understand why people hate most games based on movie licenses.  For one thing they are almost always bad, with cliché situations, very little innovation, and a cookie cutter formula.  These are the types of games you usually pass over while searching for the latest sequel or remake, a group of games that has done very little good for our multi-billion dollar industry.  Thankfully the Warriors, Rockstar Games’ newest console experience, bucks that trend and creates a world that is both interactive and exciting.

Based on the 1979 film by Walter Hill (which in turn was based on the Sol Yurick book), the Warriors tells the story of a colorful street gang who call Coney Island, Brooklyn their home.  This is a rough group of street brawlers; men who have no problem mugging, stealing, vandalizing, and tussling with the New York Police Department.  When they aren’t illegally earning money and battling the fuzz, the Warriors are known to war with other gangs in the area – including long-time rivals, the Destroyers.

What sets this game apart is that its story actually begins long before anything from the movie.  The first dozen or so levels are brand new, setting up a believable story that eventually connects to all of the pivotal moments from the 26 year old film.  As your travel from level to level you’ll meet a number of unique gangs, visit all kinds of bleak locations, and grow to understand your place in this violent gang world.  By the time the game merges into the story from the movie you’ll have a much better understanding of the players, their motives, and the severity of the situations.

Regardless of the movie license, at its heart the Warriors is really just an update to games like Double Dragon, Final Fight, and Streets of Rage.  Despite their popularity in the 80s and 90s, these brawlers just haven’t found their footing in the 21st century.  Sega and Capcom continue to try to rejuvenate the genre, but when the efforts end up being Spikeout: Battle Streets and Urban Reign it’s hard to justify even trying.  Leave it to Rockstar Games to be the one who gets it right, combining everything we loved about those classic arcade brawlers with elements from their own titles (such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt).

True to its roots, The Warriors is an extremely easy game to pick up and learn.  Although just about every button on the Xbox control is used for something, fighting feels pretty natural and makes a lot of sense.  Each of the characters have a few different combos, but you aren’t going to confuse this with a stand alone fighting game like Tekken or Dead or Alive.  As you play through the game chances are your skills will improve, which will lead to more daring (and impressive) attacks – such as knowing when to smash your enemy against the wall or, better yet, throwing him off a building.

The Warriors has you switching between the nine “main” members of the gang – Cleon, Swan, Snow, Ajax, Vermin, Fox, Cochise, Cowboy, and the newest recruit, Rembrandt.  Although there are times when you will switch between characters mid-level, for the most part you are stuck with the fight the computer has chosen for you.  This is not all that bad of a set up, though, since all nine of the Warriors play pretty much exactly the same.  By the time you’ve beaten all 23 levels you’ll have seen the game from everybody’s perspective, which makes for a pretty interesting game.

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