The Warriors is a surprisingly first-rate title from Rockstar Games. Be warned, though, this game is absolutely not for children. Yes, Rockstar makes excellent Grand Theft Auto games, but their other action titles like State of Emergency and Manhunt have been seen as a mixed bag from game journalists and consumers alike. While the lesser games were hit or miss, many gamers could see that the company was learning from its mistakes. Now those lessons learned have paid off with this impressive and very adult title. When news first broke about The Warriors game, many people including myself, wondered how good a game based off of a little known movie from the late 70s could actually be. Well, wonder no more, The Warriors is an outstanding action, beat-?em-up with style, substance, humor, loads of violence, A-plus dialogue, and a superb, mature plot line.
The story takes place in a near future New York City where all the youth are divided into gangs. Your gang obviously, is The Warriors. As the Warriors you will take on a host of other gangs such as the Hi-Hats (a group of killer mimes), the Lizzies (an all girl gang), and your rivals, the Destroyers. For the most part, the game is all about gang violence to an extreme degree. This same violence has separated the people of New York, but a man named Cyrus, the leader of yet another gang called the Gramercy Riffs has a vision of one huge unified gang.
The game begins with Cyrus speaking at a meeting set up for the hundreds of gangs of NYC. He shows them all that as small groups they are strong, but as one whole they can be unstoppable. A 60,000 member gang that would dwarf the 20,000 members of the police squad. They would own the city. As the peace and unity talks go on, Cyrus is killed and the murder is wrongfully blamed on the Warriors. The game then flashes back to a month earlier to help you get to know the members of the Warriors. You eventually get to play as all the key Warriors like Vermin, War Chief, Cowboy, Swan, Fox, Rembrandt, Snow, Cochese, and Ajax. All the characters play a little differently so you rarely ever feel like you?re playing as the same core character with a different name. While playing as the Warriors you will quickly realize that they are not heroes, they break the law, beat up bums, steal, vandalize, do drugs, and chase hookers. This is a gang like any other, they are no better or worse than anyone else. After you get their back story, the game shifts back to present time with the Warriors fleeing to their home turf while being hunted down by the other gangs because of Cyrus?s murder. It?s very rare to play a beat-?em-up of this caliber, TW is filled with a very rich, deep, and adult storyline throughout the entire game.
I call The Warriors a beat-?em-up because that?s what it is at its heart. It?s a brawler, but with a twist. There can be about 20-30 characters on screen at any given time (something taken from State of Emergency), there are stealth sections (taken from Manhunt), lots of breakable objects, a sizable amount of weapons, multiplayer, and numerous tasks throughout the game to breakup the fights and keep the experience fresh. The different tasks take the form of mini-games for different actions such as tagging graffiti, lock picking, muggings, and stealing car radios. You can even issue commands to the other members such as spread out, attack, or follow, which adds another level of light strategy.
One thing for sure is that you will never get bored when playing The Warriors, not with things going on like doing drugs to gain back health, robbing people, starting riots, almost witnessing a rape, store lootings, beating up cops, rescuing your gang, and running from other bigger gangs. The amount of things you can do here is amazing. You can throw devastating punches, take part in skull shattering stealth or co-op moves with allies, and throw people through glass windows and into cars. You can use all kinds of weapons like 2x4s, bats, bats with nails in them, bricks, crowbars, cash registers, guitars, knives, and crates. You can even use other people as weapons or shields.
The AI in the game is very good in that the computer controlled characters will try to do everything I just mentioned back to you. They will gang up on you relentlessly, try to stop you from completing mini-games and objectives, use weapons, call for backup, throw things at you from roof tops during riots, and even run away sometimes when outnumbered. Top that off with very responsive controls, and you have a solid title gameplay wise. These few examples of the carnage in this game just scratch the surface of everything you will experience.
What really makes The Warriors something special for mature gamers is the overall mood and voice acting. The world of TheWarriors is cold and bleak, but that seems to be the way its inhabitants like it. They like the filth and hopelessness. They want their world dingy and run down. They need their city dark and sadistic. They love the brutality and cruelty they show towards each other. They?re blunt in their actions and in their speech. The actors deliver their lines with such conviction it will amaze even the most jaded gamer. Every character will cuss like a drunken sailor, and put just the right amount of fear or anger in their delivery. The sound effects are great also. Shattered glass, punches, kicks, slams, and grabs are all top notch and authentic. Everything sounds like it came right out of a movie.
Other nice touches to the game are just the chaotic feelings you get when NPCs overturn police cars, set buildings ablaze, and really try to kill one another. There is a great attention to detail in the environments as far as making so many objects breakable, but the detail with the actual people is done to the highest degree as well. Everyone has their own vicious personality which tremendously helps the game to become that much more believable.
Navigating through the game is very easy, missions and objectives are always available to view. The map, while not as detailed as the ones in the GTA series, are still extremely helpful by showing where everything is located (even some back alleys for shortcuts). The camera follows the action fairly well and is never really a problem. It does have its issues in multiplayer though because it splits when the players get too far apart which can take you out of the game somewhat. It?s still fun, though, to play through story missions with a second player who has your back in the bigger brawls and riots. Mini-games such as quick rumbles, a capture the flag mode (where the flag is replaced with a girl), king of the hill, and a side scrolling fighter called ?Armies of the Night? add very nicely to the overall replay value.
I did have a few problems wit the game though. While I did like the art direction as a whole, and the animations were smooth for the most part, it would?ve been nice to see more facial expressions for the characters. The lip synching seemed to need a little more work as well. The areas of the game felt a tad too confined, but that maybe because of all the destructible objects. Still a more wide open world would?ve been better. The graffiti sections need to be a little too exact which cuts down on the fun factor, and the stealth parts are a bit too simplistic. My biggest problem with the game was that for a fighter, there weren?t as many moves as you might expect there to be. The addition of weapons and co-op moves helps a bit, but eventually you?ll be wishing you could do a little more with the characters.
All-in-all The Warriors is a remarkable project for adult audiences. Its atmosphere is closer to the somewhat more serious manner of Rockstar?s Manhunt than that of the more cartoonish hostility and disposition of Grand Theft Auto. It?s a beat-?em-up with a real story and not just mindless button mashing. If you?re of age and want to see where brawlers of the future should be headed, you should definitely check out TheWarriors.