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Game Profile
Rockstar Games
Rockstar Leeds
GENRE: Action
February 12, 2007

The Warriors

The Warriors

 Written by Matt Swider  on March 12, 2007

Review: Come out to Plllllllayyyyyystation Portable.

The Warriors for PlayStation Portable captures the 1979 Walter Hill movie in a near-perfect port of its 2005 PS2 and Xbox counterparts. Rockstar Games, if you recall, is also responsible for shrinking the console version of Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition with few problems during the first year of Sony's handheld. Its port of The Warriors does that first attempt one better by NOT including frame rate hiccups that slow the pace of the gameplay or minute-long load times that cripple it before the gameplay even starts. The Warriors also outperforms all previous PSP ports by boasting a $20 price tag, which is the same as the home console editions. The differences comes down to whether you want slightly better handling from the more manageable PS2 or Xbox controllers or want to be more of a road warrior using the more accessible PSP.

For those that are new bloods like Rembrandt, see what The Warriors is made of in the paragraphs below. Everyone else that has a one-track mind like Ajax can learn about the PSP's concessions in the performance paragraph just under the first three.

The Way of The Warriors
The Warriors is one of the best non-Grand Theft Auto games from Rockstar Games; better than Manhunt and twice as good as Bully. The reason behind this is the same reason why the film has become a cult classic: It has a compelling, original storyline you want to see to the end. The opening cinematic features an ostentatious Cyrus, who is in front of an army of 60,000 gang members in order to call a truce. Although no one's supposed to be packing at this midnight summit, Cyrus is shot dead and our Coney Island crew is framed. That's where the movie begins and where three-fourths of the game ends. Like the console versions, the PSP edition acts as a precursor to the actual film in addition to recapturing the events of the hour and a half movie.

The action begins 3 months in advance of the summit. You spend most of the time increasing the rep of The Warriors by tagging city walls with graffiti, busting skulls of rival gangs, mugging pedestrians for money, robbing stores of their merchandise and breaking car windows in order to unbolt the radio and subsequently bolt off with it. The action is varied and happens at all of the right moments so that you never feel like you're constantly fighting, not fighting enough or wanting to fight because the mission tasks are too boring.

The game's style also makes things not dull thanks to the movie's campy, yet classic presentation. The Warriors wear maroon vests and fight weirder rivals gangs like a group of mimes known in the game as the Hi-hats. If this were a modern day gang drama like the upcoming movie remake that is supposed to be set in Los Angeles, it wouldn't have worked as well. The new Warriors should just go ahead and cast Justin Timberlake because without such unique style, the aesthetics lose the original's core appeal anyway, something the game preserves in all versions. Further matching the 70s movie, the game's dialogue uses or mimics the voices of the real life actors.

The PSP's Performance
The Warriors took more than a year to convert to portable form, but the result was worth the wait if you're looking for a quality brawler on the go. The console versions' graphics lacked heavy detail and therefore seemed merely adequate like many titles in Rockstar's lineup. The PSP, however, is a much better fit for the game's engine. Its cinematics and opened-ended environments look the same on the system's 16:9 widescreen as they did on the PS2 and Xbox without much of a hitch.

The controls, on the other hand, saw a couple necessary changes on the handheld. Since there's only one analog stick on PSP, this version uses the L1 shoulder button in conjunction with the sole stick to look around. It doesn't function as well as having a dedicated right analog for the camera, but the compromise still works nonetheless. Issuing warchief commands is now a matter of cycling through the squad-like options using the select button, while completing objectives that once used force feedback have all been turned into rumbleless button pressing. The result is a scheme that is a little less intuitive and inventive compared to using a Dual Shock 2 controller, but a solid and still useable conversion given the handheld's unavoidable limitations.

Wireless cooperative play makes the PSP's technical setbacks of no second analog and no rumble seem less severe and stems the hurt, power-hungry feelings as the PS2 and Xbox do not support Wi-Fi at all. Playing through the story with a friend is even better because you each have a personal screen to yourselves. Unfortunately, the fact that the cooperative option is selectable from only the beginning makes this feature less useable. Joining up mid-game for such a portable product is a must.

Having the Armies of the Night mini-game playable as soon as you step foot into the gang's hangout benefits warriors that couldn't make it through the game's dozen or so hours on consoles. The once unlockable extra features the same great gameplay, which is a 2D arcade throwback to Double Dragon.

Bottom Line
Rockstar Leeds remarkably contained Rockstar Toronto's console creation on the PSP without sacrificing anything significant. That being said, there's nothing of value for warriors that already made their way through the PS2 or Xbox editions. New bloods, though, have the choice between a high-quality portable game and a slightly easier to control console version. Of course, if you really can't decide, the PSP game has released for just $20 and console copies have come down to the same amount, so you can always dig it twice at that price.

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