Wednesday, November 09, 2005

VG REVIEW: The Warriors

And we're back. Not necessarily up to 100% health, mind you, but well enough (and considerably less stressed enough) to start posting again. So with that thought, here's my review of "The Warriors" that ran in our paper last Sunday.

for PlayStation 2 and Xbox
rated M for Mature (blood, intense violence, sexual themes,

strong language, use of drugs and alcohol)

RATING: Three and a half stars

If there was ever a film that was begging to be turned into a video game it was "The Warriors."

With it’s mythic themes and it’s "get from A to B" premise, Walter Hill’s cult 1979 film about a Coney Island street gang trapped behind enemy lines seems tailor made for adaptation.

And it’s not much of a surprise that Rockstar, makers of the infamous "Grand Theft Auto" series, are the ones who chose to adapt it, given their affection for all things violent and urban. That they did a pretty good job translating the material is, if not surprising, pretty impressive considering the number of bad movie spin-offs exist in the video game market these days.

The game does, indeed, bear some resemblance to the "GTA" series, and fans of those games will feel at home here. Structurally, however, it’s a much closer cousin to the old "beat-’em-up" games of the arcade era.

Anyone who has fond memories of titles such as "Final Fight" and "Double Dragon," where players fought off hordes of bad guys while scrolling from left to right, will see the similarities here. In many ways, "The Warriors" is the first game to take the long-languishing genre into the next generation.

The game adheres pretty close to the basic plot of the film, but adds a good deal of back story.

As before, the Warriors head uptown for a huge gang powwow, where Cyrus, the messianic leader of the largest of the New York gangs, is attempting to join the disparate groups together to take over the city.

Cyrus, unfortunately, gets assassinated rather quickly, and the Warriors are mistakenly identified as the culprits. Now the nine members must make their way back home while avoiding the cops and every other gang that wants revenge for Cyrus’ slaying.

After starting at Cyrus’ death, the game goes back several months before the meeting, as The Warriors attempt to gain a strong foothold in their Coney Island community and battle rival gangs to protect their reputation.

The game follows a basic mission structure similar to that found in "Grand Theft Auto."

Players will find themselves at various times graffiti "tagging" various structures, defending their turf from rivals, destroying property, and, of course, beating up anyone who gets in their way.

It’s the beating up part that is the meat and potatoes of the game. Players attack using two controller buttons. A third lets you grab and throw your opponent while a fourth is used for jumping and picking up weapons.

The weapons are significant, as they really aid you during some of the game’s massive street brawls. Just about anything lying around on the street, from garbage cans to bricks to beer bottles, can be thrown at or smashed against someone’s head.

You don’t fight alone, however. Other Warriors members usually tag along with you, and you can give them instructions like "Watch My Back" or "Wreck ’Em All," depending upon the situation.

When not indulging in a bit of the old ultra-violence, players can steal car radios, pick locks or mug passers-by for quick cash. That money can be used to purchase "flash" a drug that instantly heals you when your health is low.

Clearly, "The Warriors" is not going for the politically-correct audience.

If the game falls down at all, it’s more in the technical side of things than with its overall concept. Some of the controls, like commanding your troops, can be difficult in the heat of battle. And despite the variety of attacks available, it’s too easy to button mash your way to success.

What’s more, a few technical glitches, as well as the chunky graphic design draw you out of the game. And the save system is far too stingy.

Ultimately, however, these issues don’t mar the overall gaming experience.

"The Warriors" doesn’t have the epic feel of "Grand Theft Auto," but what it does is equally impressive. It manages to stay faithful to its source material while offering a unique and fun experience.

You don’t have to be familiar with the film in order to enjoy the game, but for those of you who have fond memories of Cochise and Swan or desperately wanted to take a bat to the Baseball Furies, "The Warriors" fills that need rather nicely.

Can you dig it?

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005


At 10:13 PM, Blogger Jog said...

Serious question - is that Joe Walsh song in this game? Because it needs to be.


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