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 PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 2
BRAWLING, ROCKSTAR STYLE

ike the best of Rockstar’s games, The Warriors immerses you in a world that feels at once authentic and highly stylized, and it might just be the best game adaptation of a film ever in terms of capturing the mood of the original movie. Fans will notice that all of the iconic scenes of the film are recreated almost shot for shot. In addition, Rockstar Toronto has gone to the trouble of creating a completely new storyline that shows players how the Warriors came together, and the events leading up to the start of the film.

The developers have also tried to stretch the conventional formula for what’s considered a "brawler." Unlike most of the genre, where you walk down single-path alleyways, The Warriors, taking cues from other popular Rockstar titles, creates the illusion that you’re in a real, living city. Although, sizewise, the levels are much closer to Manhunt than GTA, there are areas to explore both on the ground and vertically, hidden items, amazing unlockables (trust us, finish the Story Mode), and numerous side missions. They’ve also tried to expand the gameplay to incorporate more than just fisticuffs. You can engage in all sorts of petty crime, including muggings, stealing car stereos, lockpicking, and tagging graffiti. Throw in a little more variety in the form of some cool chase and stealth sequences, and you’ve got something more than a typical brawler. I especially enjoyed the graffiti writing, which is done through an ingenious mechanic.

As much as I love the structure of the game, The Warriors does have some serious flaws. The fighting engine itself is fairly deep, allowing you to pull off some very brutal moves with a modicum of button presses (including some cool co-op maneuvers). You’ll definitely feel cool kicking ass as a Warrior, whether hand-to-hand or with any of the numerous weapons. However, I found the feel of the combat to be sluggish and chaotic at times, especially when fighting large numbers of enemies. The camera doesn’t help matters much, as it’s sometimes erratic, even leaving my view obstructed in a few instances. Throw in a few aggravating mission goals, and you can expect some serious frustration when completing the lengthy Story mode. The camera also renders the two-player co-op Story mode almost unplayable, as it constantly switches between split-screen and single-screen as you move through the level, leaving you very disoriented. I recommend turning on the option that makes it stay in split-screen, but even that is hampered by your very narrow field of vision. This is a pretty big disappointment for those of us wishing for a return to the days of Double Dragon. Thankfully, the Rumble Mode, which has a ton of unlockable minigames, is there for your multiplayer enjoyment.

Although it’s certainly not a masterpiece, The Warriors gets by on style, flair, variety, and simple fun. The gameplay – while still enjoyable – isn’t nearly as polished as it could be, the story and the appeal of the world that The Warriors recreates will be enough to pull you through to the end.

  

LISA MASON   8

Rockstar does one thing better than any other company: mood. The Warriors practically bleeds time and place. In fact, my favorite thing about the game is the weaving of soundtrack, dialect, environments, and culture to make a compelling portrait of New York during the late ‘70s. Bringing back the brawling genre is another facet of this, and I think that Rockstar has packed enough innovation in there to bring the classic elements back into the forefront – beating stuff up, after all, is almost always a good time. While I’m glad to see someone resurrect the classic rumble, this update has some of the same problems that the old games did. Frustration often rears its head, the co-op camera doesn’t work as well as I’d like, and the combat (while satisfying) could be a little smoother between moves. Kick-ass unlockables and later levels are compelling enough, though, that I’d encourage people to bully their way to its conclusion

8.25
CONCEPT:
Rockstar turns a ‘70s camp classic into the most ambitious brawler attempted to date
GRAPHICS:
Prettier than GTA, and it has a great visual style, but the character models and lip synch are a bit rough around the edges
SOUND:
Captures the film’s odd mixture of ‘70s AOR rock, disco, and strange, minimal synth score, resulting in one of my favorite game soundtracks ever
PLAYABILITY:
The fighting can feel sluggish at times, visceral at others; the camera could use some work
ENTERTAINMENT:
A flawed, yet compelling attempt to create a cinematic brawler
REPLAY:
Moderately High
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