Hippo Manchester
October 27, 2005

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The Warriors

(XBOX/PS2)

Rockstar Games

***

By Glenn Given

Legendary developer Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto 3) injects the gritty charm of the 1979 gang-brawling classic film The Warriors into the XBOX and PS2.

OK, nine times out of 10 movie tie-in games are bad news. Scratch that, make it 9.9 times out of 10 movie-based games (and vice versa) are a lost cause. Yes, yes ... last year’s Spiderman 2 was fun but it is games like that, and my worn-out cartridge of Diamonds Are Forever for the Colecovision, that are the exceptions that proves the rule. Well, now I can add a third exception.

1979’s The Warriors is rivaled only by Escape from New York in cult-awesomeness. It’s the tale of a Coney Island-based, red-leather vested, vaguely Native American-themed gang called “The Warriors” and how they are framed for the murder of an inter-gang peace coordinator named Cyrus. The Warriors must then run from the Bronx to their home turf, all the while being chased by quasi-theatrical themed gangs (like the baseball/masquerade party attired Furies). As a New York ex-pat, I can tell you it’s tough enough getting from the Bronx to Coney, even mid day when the express subways are running.

Rockstars’ game adaptation takes you back three months prior to this hellish night for the warriors. You train your gang of toughs and establish your dominance over Coney Island as you push out rival gang The Destroyers. Story-progessing missions flesh out the history of the gang, adding more depth to characters than the original material offered. You participate in various gang activites, from theft, vandalism and loitering to full gang-on-gang brawls. In combat, it is surprisingly easy to navigate your way from opponent to opponent, executing simple combo attacks and watching the backs of your fellow Warriors.

Under your control The Warriors prove themselves a proper, respectable bunch and receive their invite to that fateful gang summit in Pelham Bay Park. From here on the game falters a bit as Rockstar does its best to remain faithful to the source material while tweaking some of the film’s encounters to add more playability. Scenes like the escape from The Lizzies party and the rumble with the Orphans gang, while well done, are markedly different from the pre-film content. Once you’re stuck on the film’s plot track you tend to loose a bit of steam as the game shifts from a roaming, broad gang/brawler to a more fast-action and stealth-based style of play. Ultimately The Warriors the game satisfies in much the same way as The Warriors the film satisfied; with cultish glee at watching oddly-themed gangs duke it out in clear defiance of the law.