The Warriors is, quite frankly, a beast of a brawler. It's an R-rated romp full of robbery, mugging, tagging, platform trickery, and other gang-related mayhem with tons of modes and as robust a fighting engine as we've seen this generation. The premise is simple: thanks to a little misinformation, the NYC gang world is on high alert, searching for The Warriors, a Coney Island-based band of boppers that purportedly killed big-time rival Cyrus.
Playing through the mission-based story mode does more than just let you enjoy the trip back to Coney Island, it also unlocks mini-games in rumble mode and, after you've reached a certain level, gives you access to a more advanced headquarters with training opportunities and the ability to enjoy the side-scrolling throwback mode, Armies of the Night.
A top-notch experience and a clear example of the PSP's technical prowess, [The Warriors] successfully captures the style and machismo of the film while offering enough in-depth action for even the hardest of hardcore fighting junkies.
Knocking off a store is one thing, but doing so while trying to repel a very angry and very powerful cop is another thing. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way and it's refreshing to see an enemy A.I. that can offer body slams just as well as I can. Story mode will punish you if you get lax while tagging buildings or stealing car stereos. Even with an arsenal of weapons, normal and heavy attacks, grapple moves (both standing and on the ground!), and a rage mode, you have to be on your toes.
Should your cohorts get busted by the police, you'll need to rescue them all while trying to complete a set of tasks to get to the next checkpoint. I was a little disappointed to see so much structure in each mission, and would much rather have an open city to roam in (perhaps with occasional checkpoints for saving). After so many missions, you'll get a little sick of side stuff, such as tagging walls, buying extra paint, and performing other mini game-style tasks but it never gets so old that you won't want to finish up the nearly 20 hours of the main game, especially because of the unlockable extras and because you can always take a break to flying tackle an unsuspecting street roamer.
Though I would have preferred to move with the D-pad rather than the oddly placed analog nub, Rockstar did an excellent job with the controls. They're fluid and offer enough diversity to make this the premier brawler on the PSP. All that said, some of the two-button combinations are a little cumbersome at times. Sprinting (analog stick direction + left trigger) for big jumps can get tricky when the camera decides to act up, which it thankfully doesn't do too often (it also gets a little confused during big brawls, so you may have to force it back into place using the d-pad).
Ever thought you'd race wheelchairs through Chinatown against any number of rival gang members? Rumble mode let's you do this as well as custom-build a gang from more than 300 people, fight to be king of the hill, or simply get your hands dirty beating down opponents. If rumble mode doesn't satisfy, there is the Armies of the Night mode, a straight-forward old school fighter with a more simplified control scheme, and if that doesn't do it, then get online with a friend and play through the game 2-player style, or replay your favorite levels.
The Warriors has Rockstar's bravado written all over it. A top-notch experience and a clear example of the PSP's technical prowess, it successfully captures the style and machismo of the film while offering enough in-depth action for even the hardest of hardcore fighting junkies. Visuals are strong, but blurry during movement (it seems like the characters move too fast for the game to handle at times) and a brightness setting would have helped as most of the game is dark and especially hard to see in rooms with too much light. If anything, this port serves as a perfect example of the PSP's unique position as a handheld and what this under-appreciated piece of hardware is capable of.
Xbox screens shown