Making a game based on a cult '70s film for modern consoles may seem like a tall order. Although today's audiences may not connect with its source material, Rockstar Games has managed to make 2006's The Warriors work. The PlayStation 2 and original Xbox title offered an updated twist on the old-school brawler formula and married it to the classic film. The game even went the extra mile and scored the participation of some original cast members to voice original content that expanded on the movie. The fine folks at Rockstar are bringing the console experience to the PSP with a portable version of the adventure for those who might have missed it. We had the chance to check out a near-final version of the game to see how it's shaping up on its new home.
If you're unfamiliar with the game or film it's based on, here's a quick primer on just what The Warriors is all about: The game is based on the 1970 Walter Hill movie that adapted Sol Yurick's 1965 debut novel. The movie and novel focus on a night in the life of a gang struggling to get back to its turf after being marked for an unpleasant death. And why is this gang marked for death? It seems that it has been framed for the murder of Cyrus, a gang leader who was attempting to unite the gangs under one banner to fortify their cumulative power into a formidable collective that could run the city regardless of police opposition.
Unfortunately, Cyrus is right in the middle of his pitch at a massive gang meeting in the Bronx--which draws representatives from every major gang in the five boroughs of New York--when he's shot. The real killer, not being a fool, quickly frames the unsuspecting Warriors, which subsequently leads to their being marked for a painful retribution. Outnumbered in an epic way, the Warriors have no choice but to make their way back to the Bronx by the only means open to them, the subway, which leads to the longest and most painful walk of their lives.
The game offers a hybrid experience that draws on material from Yurick's book and original content to tell a much more fleshed-out story. Though the Warriors' run from the Bronx to Coney Island is still a core part of the game, it's not the only story there is to tell. You'll play through levels based on the game, as well as flashbacks. The PSP version of the game will feature all the aforementioned content from the console game but with a tweaked delivery. You'll find everything from the console game, such as story and flashback levels, minigames, and multiplayer modes, all intact. The multiplayer modes will now support ad hoc Wi-Fi options for up to two players. In addition, the unlockable armies-of-the-night mode, a side-scrolling Double Dragon-esque homage, is open from the start. Outside of that, you won't find anything totally new or exclusive to Sony's handheld. However, Rockstar is hoping the game's $19.99 price tag helps make the game appealing to fans who are eager to take the action on the go or anyone who might have missed out on the console game.
The game's presentation on the PSP offers an impressive approximation of the PS2 game. The stylized visuals have all made it over intact and do a good job of capturing the game's unique look. The audio also makes the trip over, offering all the sounds heard in the console game. We noticed a few rough spots in the game, such as ghosting when the action got hectic and some frame rate inconsistencies, which we hope are ironed out in the final version. However, for all intents and purposes, The Warriors on the PSP captures the sights and sounds of its console cousins and manages to keep the loads close to par as well, which is nice to see.
Based on what we played, The Warriors is a solid conversion of the console game to the PSP. If the rough spots we mentioned are smoothed over, the title should shape up nicely on the portable system. Though the game doesn't sport any truly new content, its adapted multiplayer modes and its ability to have the unlockable mode open from the start, as well as its price, should make it an appealing purchase for PSP owners who are hankering for something to play. The Warriors is slated to ship next month for the PSP.