Just by picking up the controller and playing The Warriors, you can tell this is a Rockstar developed title. The feel is there, along with the gritty, unflinching, and brutal style that has become their trademark. It’s a beat-em-up based on a cult 1979 film, and in Rockstar’s hands, they can turn and entirely new set of people onto the movie.
Rather obviously, players control a street gang called The Warriors based in Coney Island. There’s a turf war the game revolves around, setting up missions to take over sections and clear out whoever has moved in. It does so in a basic structure, sending players out to defeat a group, and coming back to home base to collect rewards.
While they’re made out to be different, most of the missions end up following the same path. For the most part, it’s just a matter of beating down street thugs in each area until there are no more. If there’s a secondary objective, it’s usually achieved with little trouble.
Combat is fast and brutal. Most moves come off without much effort, and there’s little skill involved. The impact is here though, and smashing someone’s face into a wall only to pull it away to see the blood splatter is brutal. Anything goes in these street fights, from meat cleavers, bricks, bottles, trashcans, boxes, and the obligatory red barrels. The camera can prove troublesome, and in a game without much color, it can be hard to see where your character is during the massive battles that can erupt.
The levels set the tone, with dilapidated buildings, street bums, and hookers wandering the streets constantly. There’s some free-form gameplay here in-between the story advancing missions that let players do as they wish until they’re bored. That, or until the police show up to ruin it.
That’s what The Warriors has so much trouble with. It’s a mix of other games, mostly Rockstar titles, and it feels that way as the game moves on. Stealth feels forced, the “collect X items before time is up” missions never should be seen again, and there are only so many times you can be forced to run around city spray painting buildings before it gets old. It’s understandable to insert some variety in the most repetitive genre ever, but this is not how it’s done.
Beyond that though, Rockstar has a winner. They’ve capture the era perfectly inside a rather simple graphics engine, and the voice acting, even if the language goes way overboard, is done well. The side missions aren’t just ways to extend the game’s length either. They actually provide backstory to the main characters, like why they started the gang or how they joined.
While it’s a not a perfect game, fans of the film will obviously enjoy this more than the person who still has no idea this was a movie to begin with. Regardless of which group you fall into, you’ll have a solid gaming experience from The Warriors. It’s predictable and derivative at times, but the gory, harsh combat saves it from an uglier fate.