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The Warriors


When I first heard about The Warriors I had to wonder what Rockstar was thinking. I mean, what's the point of making a game from a 1970's cult movie that has remained in relative obscurity? Well, whatever the case the console version actually turned out to be a fun beat 'em up game with a lot of personality. I was kind of worried though when I heard about the PSP version two years later.

Console to handheld ports generally never do well. There is always something lost in the transition and in the end the project tends to feel like a hollow representation of its former self. Whether it's the gameplay, the graphics, or control, there always seems to be something off. In the case of The Warriors though, Rockstar has pulled off a successful handheld transition and in many ways this is one of the best action games on the PSP.

The Warriors tells a tale about a New York City run by the gang element (a real stretch of the imagination I'm sure). One gang in particular, The Warriors, has just been framed for the killing of a rival gang's boss. Due to this our anti-heroes find themselves on the wrong side of the fence with every other squad of thugs in NYC out to get them. Along the road to redemption you'll be beating the snot out of your enemies, tagging, stealing, and mugging. You know, all the stuff a growing boy needs to learn how to do.

Gameplay:

The thing that drew me to The Warriors in the first place had nothing to do with the fact that it was based on the 70's film. It was because the game was developed by bad boy publisher Rockstar was doing something other than the notorious Grand Theft Auto franchise. Their other games are equally as good though for some reason they never get the spotlight they deserve.

In the case of The Warriors the game starts out simply enough with a selection of the essentials tossed your way. When you begin the story mode you're given the basics and eased into the many aspects that you'll find in the game. Fighting, mugging, breaking and entering, stealing cars, and even using stealth are all elements that you'll be employing while running around NYC.

The fighting aspect of The Warriors is the main draw for most and easily the crowning achievement in terms of gameplay here. You start out by beating on a drunken homeless guy but this is merely to give you an opponent easy for the pickings. The difficulty spikes as newer enemies are introduced and rival gangs stand in your way. The AI stays pretty strong in the PSP version as well which is a definite plus. The console versions featured an ass-kicking CPU and thankfully this incarnation isn't very different.

Combos are a big part of fighting in The Warriors. If you ever played the console version you'll remember how intuitive and simple they were to pull off. Light and heavy attacks, grapples, and special techniques are just as effective in the PSP version though the lack of buttons makes some of them a tad more challenging in the heat of things. Though you car target enemies on the fly having to reposition your hands to execute a strong attack just doesn't feel as natural as it should considering your "life" is on the line. You can compensate in other areas without using the finer points of the combat engine but there is plenty of room for improvisation.

Another nice part of the gameplay is the fact that you're traveling in a pack most of the time. This means you can issue orders from something as simple as following you to more involved instructions such as telling them to destroy everything in sight. There are certain defensive advantages to these commands as well since you can order your gang members to hide from the cops.

When the action heats up the camera can become cumbersome like some elements of the controls. You have to press a button and move the analog stick if you want to make adjustments. This is a form of compensation for losing the second analog stick and though it's rather annoying there probably wasn't another way to accomplish this. These points of irritation aside the rest of the game plays out marvelously.

Mugging people is as fun as you'd imagine and performing other degenerate acts like stealing car stereos and breaking into stores are good sources of income. These supplement action as another source of adrenaline. You have to keep your wits about you or else the fuzz will come to bust you in a big way. Out of all the gameplay elements and ideas that The Warriors presents I have to say that "Armies of the Night" is probably my favorite.

The Warriors is essentially a form of homage paid to the street brawling genre "Armies of the Night" is a perfect example of that. If you're hanging out in your home turf you can walk right up to the arcade machine and play this gem. It really harkens back to the days when Streets of Rage and Final Fight ruled the consoles. I loved the 2D presentation and the controls were comfortable and easy to get into.

Overall The Warriors is quite the experience. If you own a PSP and are looking for a solid action game then this is a gem that you absolutely must have in your collection. There are a few rough spots due to the limitations of the system but for the most part the port from the consoles is almost perfect.

Graphics:

The Warriors wasn't the most visually impressive game on the market when it was released. Character models lacked some of the finer details that we have become accustomed to and things just lacked some polish overall. Still, the experience was good enough with fine animation and a wonderful atmosphere to keep things entertaining. The same can be said for the PSP version.

Things here are nowhere near as nice looking as they were on the consoles. Edges are rougher, textures are choppier, and all around there is an inherent lack of detail. Compared to some other PSP titles in the same genre the game looks pretty good though. There are graphical limitations at play when you talk about a handheld system but The Warriors works with them well.

Sound:

One of the first things that jumped out at me when I picked up The Warriors was the quality of the voice acting. From start to finish the voiceovers are top notch and they truly make the cut scenes worth watching and listening to. Music is another strong aspect when you're talking about the sound of this game and the sound effects are pretty good as well. Overall this is a nice sounding game that misses few beats along the way.

Conclusion:

The GTA franchise may be what Rockstar is mostly known for but games like The Warriors show that the publisher can do other things. Sure you still walk around and beat people up, mug them, steal things, and run from the cops but the game is so fresh, fun, and different from GTA that it warrants a second look. This was one of the better action titles I have played on the PSP and it's a very nice port to boot.