|A perverted pre-history of the goofy-dressed gang of wanna-be "bopper" Coney Island street thugs from the cheesy cult classic movie of the same name. In the movie, the Warriors won your heart, sorta, with their tough underdog attitudes that, despite the rough (and campy vest-wearing) exterior, concealed good, well-meaning souls just trying to survive in the tough Coney Island streets (did I just write that?). The game, on the other hand, transforms them into a gang of stupid-looking punks who gleefully engage in riots, muggings, drug use, and homicides. Rockstar has not made a name for themselves by subtlety, and their Toronto branch (how many are there now?), it seems, is no exception.|
If you haven't seen the movie, the cinematics and dialog (fairly well produced) will probably just seem dumb. If you have seen the movie, you'll wonder where the wild, naive street justice feeling of the movie has gone. What kind of message, for instance, does the first training sequence send, when it has you practice your fighting techniques against a pack of winos who, it seems, have agreed to let you stomp them into the ground repeatedly in exchange for a bottle of booze. Pure story gold, there.
As for the action itself, the combat seems to encourage straight-up button mashing all the way. The camera, darkness, lack of directional (or any) lighting, murky textures, and rather identical-looking gang people make any fight pretty much a toss up--just mash the buttons until the next cinematic cues. Enemy AIs tend to stand there and just take hits, anyway.
Aside from the stupid confusion of combat, your fresh young Warrior trainee can and will engage in other fun gameplay activities such as scaling chain-link fences, throwing bottles to distract cops, breaking windows, looting cars and display cases, mugging pedestrians, and spray-painting the Warriors insignia on buildings. The spray-painting part, where you have to guide a marker along a path with the analog stick, isn't too bad, except that if you run out of paint midway through you'll have to stop and run back to the handy paint vendor. Don't have enough money to buy more paint? Mug some people, or loot a store. It's all up to you! Economics baby, wow!
There's also a shoulder-button pop-up menu for sending group commands to your fellow Warriors. This would work okay (and they actually respond pretty well), except that you have to switch to the right analog stick to issue the command from the pop-up menu, which means that you have to take your fingers off the action buttons, and also that you'll probably end up nudging the camera facing.
Ah, the camera. I suppose it wouldn't be too bad, but in co-op, when your two player characters get too far apart to fit on the screen together, the game abruptly switches to vertical split-screen mode (by which I mean that player one is on the left half of the screen, and player two on the right). This is a little disorienting at best, and just gets more annoying as the game goes on.
Still, the inclusion of Story mode co-op is very nice. It's just that the gameplay, of which I've described pretty much every aspect that I saw in about forty-five rather excrutiating minutes of play, is not all that fun. At one point, for instance, there's a full-on riot, it seems, and you have to loot the area to get enough money for drugs, or something ridiculous like that. Well, excuse me if freestyle mugging, smashing cars, and looting stores doesn't exactly float my boat, particularly when you can hardly see ahead of you thanks to the narrow split screen and the exceptional murkiness of the seemingly eternal night visuals. And the Warriors just aren't the same lovable gang of wanna-be punks that I vaguely remember from the movie.