For this review of The Warriors, my friend Shariff asked me to include a special message. I normally don’t do requests, but I’ll make an exception for him:
“Fans of the movie will enjoy the game more than people who didn’t like the movie.”
So, if you’re screaming “I HATE THE WARRIORS! I FREAKING HATE THE WARRIORS!”, then save yourself some pain and check out this game instead.
Now, about those Warriors. As in the movie, they’re a fictional gang, hoodlumming it up and down 1979 Coney Isle. The Warriors and a hundred other gangs are invited to a “no guns” meeting held by a very charismatic cat named Cyrus, whose noble dream is to unite the gangs and violently take over every aspect of the New York City underworld. Unfortunately, a psychotic misfit from the Rogues takes advantage of this opportunity to plug Cyrus in the chest, making the peaceful meeting decidedly less peaceful. For shame!
During the ensuing chaos, the Warriors are wrongfully accused of the murder. A frantic race through New York City ensues as the innocent Warriors try to make their way back to sanctuary, where a hundred friends presumably wait to protect them. Between the “escape” theme and the “gangland” theme, it’s a refreshing premise, and The Warriors exhibits some serious atmosphere. For example, each gang has an instantly identifiable style of dress. The Baseball Furies, with their striped uniforms, KISS-style makeup, and wooden bats are the most famous… but even gangs that barely appeared in the movie (such as the mime-like Hi-Hats) get their chance to shine.
Even though The Warriors begins with an exciting re-enactment of Cyrus’s murder, 75 percent of the game takes place BEFORE the movie. At first, I was intrigued; this was a chance to better understand the individual members’ personalities. Through these missions, I learned how the Warriors were founded, I knocked off a wheelchair-bound gang leader, and I got to trash and pillage a dozen ghettos.
Eventually, I got a bit tired of the extended prologue and wanted the real story to commence. I was tired of spray-painting buildings, robbing stores, mugging civilians, and stealing radios. Part of the reason the movie worked is because I felt sorry for the Warriors. If the movie had prefaced their plight with hours of looting, pillaging, and murder, then I’d have been less inclined to root for them.
The pieces that mirror the film show off how much better the movie was. Even though The Warriors wasn’t the most finely-acted piece of cinema, it was more convincing than Rockstar’s parade of talking dolls. Rockstar clearly skimped on the character models, which works against a character-driven game. All in all, The Warriors lacks the style and presence of its namesake flick.
I didn’t really expect this game to be better than the movie, but the thing that most disappointed me is that The Warriors wasted too much time on NOT beating people up. The film had a good excuse — a few were being chased by hundreds, so full-on fights would be suicidal — but the game’s pre-film scenes could have made these guys look like badasses. Instead, they’re common thugs who run through linear stages breaking windows and knocking off empty shops for instant money, and then spend it all on flash (drugs) and spraypaint. The worst example of this weaksauce warrior-ing is the “riot” level. when I hear “riot”, I think I’m gonna get me some major action. Instead, the Warriors sneak through the chaos and steal a bunch of car stereos.
The Warriors videogame builds the characters’ personalities, and the movie shows off the most important moment of their lives. I’d like to say the two complement each other perfectly . . . but they really don’t. The film worked because even though they were gang members, the Warriors seemed to be decent guys (with one notable exception) who never got a fair shake at life. I never stopped to think about how common, wimpy, and thoroughly unlikable these punks really were.
The game made me stop to think.