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PSP  header logo

The Warriors

For: PSP

A game you should definitely play-a-ay

Product: The Warriors | Developer: Rockstar Leeds | Publisher: Rockstar Games | Format: PSP | Genre: Fighting, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
 
The Warriors PSP, thumbnail 1
Gangs are overrated. Consider how most conduct themselves: camp uniforms, silly mottos, squalid dens and Machiavellian politics, and that's just the Cub Scouts. Yet there's no denying that the desire to form territorial social groups is a strong human urge, despite the potential downside of imprisonment, death and really bad mascara.

So it was a clever move by Rockstar to adapt Walter Hill's seminal 1979 movie The Warriors to suit a modern audience brought up on MTV, hip-hop and Tupac Shakur. With its mythic resonance, atmosphere and themes of loyalty and betrayal, The Warriors is as relevant now as it ever was.

Interestingly, the game acts as a prequel to the movie, with most of its 27 chapters leading up to the assassination of Cyrus, a gang boss determined to join all the city's crews together. Though not necessary to enjoy the game, anyone familiar with the movie will take great pleasure in learning how The Warriors were formed and came to prominence.

As you might expect for an 18+ rated Rockstar title, the game doesn't shy away from brutality and violence. Smash a bottle into an opponent's face and the moment is captured in beautifully horrific slow-mo. In Story mode, missions are tackled consecutively, and as you explore New York and gain influence you'll be asked to mug, loot, destroy, graffiti and pummel rival gang members, not to mention the police.

At the heart of the game is a very robust third-person combat system. Moves include both light and heavy kick and punch combos, plus energetic throws, grabs and berserk attacks. Weapons such as planks, baseball bats, chairs and sledgehammers can also be used and add greater dynamism and strategy to the brawling.

It's all tremendous fun, at least until too many opponents turn up and it descends into a confusing WWE Royal Rumble with no one knowing who's who, where the camera is pointed or whose teeth are on the floor. Yet the brawling never gets repetitive, mainly due to the many rival gangs you encounter (crews you'll meet from the movie include The Orphans, the Turnbull A.C.s and the infamous Baseball Furies).

Though combat takes up most of your time, it's the incidental gameplay features that make The Warriors so compulsive, and these take the form of a number of button-timing and analogue rotating mini-games. For instance, car radios can be stolen by loosening screws, graffiti tags laid down by tracing lines and locks picked to gain entry to commercial buildings. The game constantly surprises and rarely gets samey.

But let's talk about atmosphere for a moment because its here where Rockstar's latest title really impresses. From the opening credits to the delivery of cut-scenes and the iconic radio narrative, The Warriors consummately captures the tone, humour and feel of the 1979 movie. The story is compulsive, the voice-acting superb (many of the original cast were recorded for the game) and the art design exceptional.

In fact, it's hard to see how Rockstar could have done a better job in this department. To start The Warriors is to finish it.

Worth mentioning too, are a number of novel modes and features that don't feel so much like bonuses as generous gifts from a benevolent uncle. The best of these is an amusing pastiche of retro 2D beat 'em ups, called Armies of the Night (accessed from the arcade machine at the gang's HQ). Rumble Mode features one-off arena fights between several gang members, and there are a number of Flashback missions that chart the early formation of The Warriors. Not to mention the Wi-Fi ad hoc and infrastructure modes, as well as an excellent two-player cooperative option.

If we had one criticism of the game it's that it sometimes doesn't quite feel at home on a handheld system (The Warriors was originally released on PS2 in 2005). Not enough thought was put into structuring missions for short-burst gaming, with relatively long loading times between each death and a hard save only coming at the end of levels (which can take over 30 minutes). This dark, edgy world is also next to impossible to see on the reflective PSP screen if you're playing in bright daylight conditions.

But these niggles aside, The Warriors is a varied and supremely entertaining game with a unique mood and gripping story that will keep you absorbed throughout its 20-hour length. Do anything short of robbery to get your hands on it.
 
The Warriors
Reviewer photo
Mark Walbank | 1 March 2007
A hugely enjoyable brawler with an engrossing story and an atmosphere you can cut with a machete – one of the greatest movie tie-ins ever
 
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