Rockstar turns a 70s cult classic into probably one of the best beat-em-ups on the PS2.

User Rating: 9 | The Warriors PS2
Many people are not familiar with the movie "The Warriors", a late 70s action thriller focusing on a NYC street gang who have to make it back to their turf in Coney Island after being framed for the shooting death of an influential rival gang leader. In recent times, the film has gained a huge cult following, so much that Rockstar Games and their Toronto-based studio adapted it into a action game in 2005. Like Rockstar's other action titles, The Warriors delivers a huge amount of gameplay and is a must-have for fans of the movie, beat-em-ups and Rockstar's other works in general.

Plot-wise, The Warriors game is identical to the original movie but also acts as a prequel and expands on the movie's timeline. While the movie simply focuses on the gang's attempt at survival, the game also focuses on how the gang started up and how they became what they are. The game does start off exactly like the movie but with an in-game engine recreation of the movie's iconic open titles. Up until the very moment where Cyrus is shot, the game goes back in time to when The Warriors were still attempting to conquer the city by taking out other gangs and recruiting new members. As you progress through the main story, "flashback" missions are unlocked that depict how certain members joined/started the gang.

As said, the game is mainly a beat-em-up so expect to be doing alot of fighting in this game. The fighting system is well-configured and alot of fun to play around with. You have a series of basic moves such as punches, kicks and grapples, though there are several other ways to inflict pain as well such as smashing your opponent's head against a brick wall or letting one of your comrades smash him in the face as you hold him by his arms. You also have a handful of weapons to use such as bats, glass bottles, knifes, planks and more. The more you mix your moves together, the more your "rage meter" increases which allows you to do double damage and finish off your opponent with a bone-crunching special move.

Fighting is not all you'll be doing though. Each level has a high-score meter so you'll also have to increase this by looting stores, stealing car radios, spray tagging over the turf of rival gangs and mugging bypassers. Some of these are in the form of "bonus objectives" that although are simply optional, still need to be done to complete the game 100%. In some missions you'll also have to evade rival gang members and police by hiding in shadows, giving you the chance to sneak up and dispatch them quickly (an obvious recycled mechanic from Rockstar's Manhunt). While the story is again identical to the movie, some events (notably those that take place in the movie) have been tweaked to make the game feel more "video-game" like.

Many of the Warriors you play as are those you are already familiar with in the movie such as Cleon, Swan, Ajax, Vermin and Rembrandt among others. Each one has varying moves which make them all different from each other. At some point, you unlock the Warriors hangout that when not on a mission, you can roam a tiny open-world portion of Coney Island doing jobs for the local residents, defending turf against rivals or just general robbing or mugging. Many of the environments in the story missions are very open and perfect for brawling with gangs. When you are leading a group of Warriors, you can give them different commands such as waiting, following, trashing up an area, taking out enemies or splitting up.

Graphical wise, The Warriors is not the best looking game. There are some blurry textures throughout and character models (especially those based on original characters from the movie) look rather bizarre in an "uncanny valley" like fashion. However, the game recreates the gritty feel of the movie perfectly. The open environments look very dark, run-down and stylish just the way it should be. The soundtrack is also a high factor. A dark-sounding electronic/synth based score is used which is very resemblant of that from the original movie. Some licensed songs are used which mainly consist of late 70s rock and disco.

The dialogue is a mixed bag for me. One thing I thought was brilliant is that most of the characters are voiced by those who portrayed them in the original movie. Any dialogue from the movie has been re-recorded. Despite some actors of characters like Fox and Luther sounding different to how they did in the original movie (possibly due to aging), I still think it was great how Rockstar tracked down every actor and convinced them to reprise their roles. In-game, the dialogue can be a bit irritating. Each NPC seems to only have a few lines of dialogue so you'll often hear them repeat the same thing over and over. This is especially true for the cops who will yell the same phrases at you when they chase you.

There are some bonus modes to be had. One of the most noteworthy is the "Armies of the Night" minigame that you unlock after completing every story mission. It plays out like a side-scrolling beat-em-up (similar to Streets of Rage or Tekken Force) where you pass through NYC environments beating up rival gang members with the main game's fighting engine. It is a hard game to complete so much patience and experience is needed. Another is Rumble Mode in which you can pit different gang members against one another in a certain arena. Every mode in the game allows the use of 2-players for some co-op action.

Overall, The Warriors is definitely one of the best games based on a movie I've played (next to Goldeneye 64 and Spider-Man 2). For a game based on a rather obscure cult movie, it is packed with hours of gameplay and variety. Even after you complete the story, you'll still spend hours completing side-missions and replaying story missions to complete unfinished objectives. Although a rather old game, it as recently become available for download on PlayStation Network and I'd say that is definitely worth the look. If you're both a fan of The Warriors movie and Rockstar's other titles, this is the perfect game for you. While pretty old and dated by today, I'd say for the record it is very much worth playing.