Review: Coney Island Whitefish?
The Warriors, director Walter Hill's take on the novel by Sol Yurick, which itself is an inspired retelling of Xenophon's Anabasis, remains to this day a pop culture classic, a film whose cult status has been well cemented over the last 20 years. The original story tells the tale of the 10,000 under Cyrus ? Greek warriors who, in the year 401 BC, found themselves deep behind enemy lines, cut off from reinforcements and alone, faced with an incredibly dangerous journey back to their homeland. In the film, it's late 70's New York City that stands in for ancient Asia Minor, and the Greek soldiers are now members of an inner city gang from Coney Island. As the movie opens, representatives from The Warriors are on their way up to the Bronx to attend a peaceful meeting of all the gangs in New York. The gathering is initiated by Cyrus, the charismatic leader of the Gramercy Riffs, who's impassioned ?Can you dig it?!? speech invokes the film poster's tagline - "These are the armies of the night. They are 100,000 strong. They outnumber the cops five to one. They could run New York City." In other words, Cyrus attempts to convince the gangs to unite. The meeting goes smoothly until Luther, leader of The Rogues, blows Cyrus off the podium with a hand cannon. Spying The Warrior's leader Cleon amidst the ensuing chaos, Luther points and utters the now famous line ? ?The Warrior's did it. The Warriors shot Cyrus!? From that point on, it's a race against time and every gang in the city to get back to Brooklyn with their lives?
Yes, that previous paragraph is from my preview ? but please, save your angry letters to the editor. Besides the fact that I am
the editor, the back-story of Walter Hill's cult classic is essential reading. It's fascinating when you realize that myth ? in any form ? carries down through the ages and works despite the medium and cultural inflections of any particular era you set the story in. Besides, it's not plagiarism if I stole it from myself.
So, how does the game stack up? Pretty well actually, and for the most part The Warriors gets the feeling of gang brawls and the surreal and turbulent New York City of the late 70s perfectly. The film's signature gangs are represented here in all of their flamboyant glory, and although the game begins with the infamous Bronx meeting and assassination, you're quickly swept back a few months prior to the events of the film. You'll play through about 20 or so story missions that bring a lot of excellent narrative detail to each of the major characters you'll inhabit including Swan, Cleon, Ajax (portrayed by a very young James Remar in the film) and Fox. The game script is extremely well done, and the particulars of the story are interesting and relevant, not to mention the violent and unpredictable atmosphere that's palpable in virtually every sequence is ripped straight from the film.
At heart The Warriors is a beat-em-up, which is good, because that was the basic premise of the movie as well. To this end the game provides a solid and intuitive fighting system that's a blast to use. Strong and weak attacks can be chained into combos, you can jump, kick, grab and use environmental objects to put the hurt on your opponents ? shivs, pieces of wood, broken bottles ? all the fun stuff is here for your enjoyment. Battles are fast and furious, and as you fight alongside your fellow Warriors you'll definitely be swept up in the frenetic violence. Simple combos are the order of the day here, but strategic thinking is vitally important if you expect to survive. You can also give your crew orders by clicking in the left thumbstick to access the menu. They'll back you up, attack, or just wreck the joint if that's what you want them to do. Overall it works well, and you'll likely find yourself fairly impressed by the AI your allies sport. And let's not forget the enemy gang members ? they're aggressive, they outnumber you and they also display pretty decent AI of their own. There are lots of great action sequences throughout the game, and some of the fights ? and heart-stopping chases ? are out of this world.
Because of the open-ended nature of this title, you'll get a break from all the fighting by performing other illegal activities to pass the time such as stealing car stereos, breaking and entering, shaking down local businesses and other nasty chores you'd expect the toughest gang in Brooklyn to be involved in. Your inner criminal certainly won't be disappointed here. There are a few stealth levels in the game, and while they can be frustrating (like fighting the cops ? trust me, you want to avoid that as much as possible in The Warriors) they're also pretty fun for the most part. The save system works well with checkpoints sprinkled liberally in most levels. Because of this, if you die it's generally not too frustrating.
Graphically the game looks decent, but it's tough to swallow the blocky character models and modest textures once you've played some of the 360 titles, though the game does run in 720p which helps its looks to a certain degree. To be fair, the framerate is totally solid and there are a lot of gang members on screen at once, so the loss of detail is something that's unfortunate, but certainly not a deal-breaker. The sound however, is completely kick ass, with many of the original actors returning to voice their characters in-game, as well as music from the film ? both licensed tracks (In the City by Joe Walsh defines
the movie) and the original score. The sound effects are sweet, and equally well done, with thunderous, bone-cracking blows landing left and right during the frequent rumbles and spectacular environmental effects like shattering glass and splintering wood surrounding you with ultra-realistic aural violence. Overall, it's a hot time in the old town tonight?