Rockstar Games have made quite a name for themselves since starting life as a small under-funded games developer going by the name DMA Design; the massive success of their Grand Theft Auto series has now made them a household name throughout the world and a lot of money in the process. Not bad at all; and not surprisingly Rockstar Games are now making many big-budget titles with which to WOW the huge audience they now have. This title is no exception.
Many people feel The Warriors motion-picture was a bit of a cult classic, when in fact it was a bit of a massive global success. Not many people under the age of eighteen will have seen this movie, nor have a large selection of adults, some don’t even know of its existence – and yet every single one of them goes around almost quoting lines from the 1970’s gangland America that this film depicts. The film has somehow integrated its nearly-forgotten-self into our society, so it’s not so strange to bring back such a distant eighties memory people had resigned to the past, kicking and screaming into your living room today.
The Warriors –in its videogame guise- really makes you feel like you’re sitting in your living room watching the VHS again for the first time – unless, of course, you saw the film before video-players entered the market – when you first turn it on. The Loading and Intro Screens could even have been taken from the original tape-edit; everything about the game is the 1970’s. You are a bopper hanging with The Warriors living in the North West of Coney Island, listening to that very cool radio station. It’s all done perfectly, and even though it pulls off the whole 70’s atmosphere from the first screen right into the game play, it looks and plays far from what a game would have looked, and played like at that point of history.
The game is set three months before the film and follows it right up to the end and beyond. A small amount of artistic license has been used to create story for the bits of the game not seen in the film and to put in “Flashback” sequences, showing instances such as when The Warriors first formed – but Rockstar have been gentle with their creativity and there isn’t much content that would anger a hardened supporter of the film. When you first start playing you are Rembrandt, a newbie trying to gain access to the gang, you are told you’ve proven your artistic contribution to the gang – the ability to spray really good tags or “burners” – and now just need to prove you can brawl. You’re then given the task of beating-up some bums who let you kick them in for some free booze; your introduction to the very core this game is designed on, the fighting. It has been very finely structured, there’s a good sense of 3D awareness with the ability to land blows on people behind you whilst keeping facing and focused on the person in front of you. There’s two buttons for attacking, one for light attacks and the other for hard attacks and if you press them both you get a brutal attack. These can all be put into combos that can be used when standing still, or when you’ve got hold of someone. These you learn at the beginning and through training on a Punch Bag in the Gym in the Hangout, where you can also get tougher by doing sit-ups, press-ups and chin-ups.
The Level structure is very good and new for this type of game; all of the Levels – apart from the first two, which are training levels – are accessed through the Hangout, which acts the HUB throughout the title. Whilst in here, listening to the 70’s radio, you can chat to your Gang Members, go to the Gym, check your stats, play the Flashback Missions or play the Rumble Arena – which is a large fighting pit where you choose the number of people fighting and even create your own Gang. There’s also option to Free-Roam around your area of Coney Island , picking-up Gang Members and completing various tasks available.
The Story Mode is the biggest part of this game; you start each Level by going to the Yellow Marker in the middle of the Hangout, which takes you straight to the next Mission . The Missions are a complete mix of everything available – you have to brawl so you don’t become a sucker, steal from shops, cars and people to make your money and find and cover other gangs’ Tags to make your mark! Every Mission is a decent size and you never just have one objective to amuse yourself with, there are many bonuses to collect en-route; bonuses for mugging people, destroying lots of stuff, even finding all of a rival gangs’ Tags. Every Level is re-playable, so if you ever feel like you’ve missed something, you can just go back and redo it.
As you can see, although Co-Operative Mode in this game was one of its biggest features in every press release prior to release, it isn’t one of the main features of the game – this I am rather relived about. The game seems to be built with the Co-Operative Mode in mind but not with it being the aim. It’s done really well, there’s a nice drop-in, drop-out feature that allows you to press Start at any time on the second player’s Controller to jump into the game, then you can work together to beat-up people, rob shops and trash cars, or if you like take advantage of the very cool Split-Screen feature, which allows you to just run wherever you like in the Level doing what you like completely separate from your team-mate, even to the point of beating him up!
The graphics are good on this title, for some reason greatly reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ graphics – which really do the job, but aren’t up to the very high standards set by other Xbox releases I’ve played recently. The characters are very well drawn – so well that they use in game graphics for the cut-scenes, but the surroundings, apart from the objects in the game, have a very 2D feel to them, taking a lot of realism out of the game. The sounds in game are brutal, many times have I found myself wince as I sneak up behind someone and get’em with a Baseball Bat! All sounds have been well done, the sound of flesh-on-flesh, wood-on-wood and teeth-on-wall really get you into the feel of the game.
This game is made for fans of The Warriors, there’s no denying that – but because of the many parallels that can be drawn from Streets of Rage and it’s contemporaries, the game is made for everyone that likes a little violence. The story’s interesting and understandable for everyone, plus the Co-Operative and Rumble Modes give it an edge over the recent competition from the likes of Beat Down: Fists Of Vengeance, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee. Those still looking for a rejuvenation in the Scrolling Beat-‘Em-Up genre should probably, as usual, avoid holding their breath, but the title is a good, fun romp that will entertain a lot of people for a long time, as nothing is done without some degree of thought.