January 23, 2007 - PlayStation 2 owners probably remember Rockstar Games' homage to the 1979 urban street film, [Register or Login to view links]. A combination of the company's biggest hits like State of Emergency and Manhunt, The Warriors successfully mixed multi-character co-op brawling with stealth action for one heck of a fun time. There's no doubt that it was a hit here in the IGN office and it stood proudly as one of the best PS2 actioners of 2005. Fast forward about 15 months -- The Warriors is in the spotlight again, and this time it's for Sony's ever-sleek PlayStation Portable.
The good news is that The Warriors is essentially the same game we loved when we first played it so many seasons back. All 18 story levels, every flashback stage, and the complete set of Coney Island bonus missions have made the PSP transition without any losses. The combat mechanics are untouched too, and while the control configuration has changed (pretty drastically, actually), the philosophy hasn't. Light and heavy attacks, grapple moves, and the ability to block and run are still what The Warriors is all about.
If you're a longtime fan of the console version, the new button mapping may take some getting used to. Sure X and Square still unleash heavy and light attacks respectively, but camera control has been moved to the directional pad (tap "Up" to center it, and hold "Up" to zoom in). Defense has been moved to the digital arrows too, as a prolonged depression of the "Down" direction allows you to block oncoming attacks. Other new changes to the PSP control scheme include the relocation of War Chief Commands to the select button (from the non-existent R2 slot) and the sprint input's migration from L2 (on PS2) to L1.
In practice the controls work pretty well, though they are a wee bit sloppier than how we remembered them on our television screens (thanks to the less-precise camera manipulation and somewhat awkward block mapping). It should also be noted that burner fans (aka, taggers who like to spray paint walls and other targets) may find that their artistic mini-game more difficult; this is because the PSP's analog nub doesn't respond nearly as accurately when laying a burner as it did on PS2.
Slight control differences aside, though, The Warriors is virtually the same game. Almost completely mission-oriented with your gang's home base acting as a centralized command center, The Warriors allows players to go or participate in specifically scripted levels (that tell how the group came to be) and navigation is handled through an easy to read map system illustrated like the 1979 NYC subways. Jumping from Soho to Coney Island and back again is as easy as pressing the action button.
Just as was the case on PlayStation 2, if there is anything that positively sticks out regarding how The Warriors plays, it's the surprising depth of its characters. All nine playable fighters, while similar, have their own unique selection of moves and strengths and offer slightly different takes on the same concept. This is especially true when it comes to the tag team moves and Rage finishers -- which can definitely save your hide in a pinch.
On the everyday side of things, Light and Heavy attacks can be chained together for easy combos, and both grab moves and counters can be used for fans of grappling. The good news is that these maneuvers are all context sensitive, so depending on where you are in relation to your opponent, your actions become more and more varied. Weapons can be picked up too, and just about every object in the environment can be used as one. Bottles, spray paint, 2x4s, baseball bats, boom boxes, knives, bricks, and anything else you can imagine are all immediately accessible. In fact, the only weapon you'll never see any of The Warriors using are guns; not only does the team not have access to them because of their social status, but it would also throw the game's balance way off.
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