The Warriors is one of the best brawlers of recent years.
I often wonder if some of our beloved genres from back in the day can be reinvigorated again. That’s certainly how I feel about beat ’em ups, a genre that always focused on throwing waves and waves of enemies at you so that you would have to defeat them by mashing buttons. That said, The Warriors is one of the best brawlers of recent years and while you’re still pushing buttons without thinking too much, it’s also an appropriate way to tell this story of violence.
Based on an 80’s cult film of the same name, The Warriors follows an eponymous gang as they are trying to escape other organized groups of criminals. Basically, The Warriors are trying to reach their base because an important leader was killed in a meeting and they were blamed for the horrible act. Some of the most memorable parts about the film are the numerous fights that showed some colorful gang members beating each other to their hearts’ content. Basically, the entire game focuses on that portion of the movie and since this is a beat ’em, there’s plenty of room for mashing buttons. It’s worth pointing out that the introductory scene from the film is wonderfully recreated in the game. Also, most of their actors reprise their roles here, which is great news for fans of the cult film.
So as you progress through the game, you assume the role of different members of The Warriors, one of the most respected gangs in Brooklyn, and you’ll face other street gangs such as The Destroyers, the Jone Street Boys, the Boppers and the list goes on and on. The game takes place in three-dimensional environments where you can walk around, run, interact with your surroundings and of course, punch everyone who doesn’t belong to your gang. But it doesn’t end there, you can jump over fences, pick up items and even use spray paint to mark turf or insult people. But most of the times, you’ll be fighting opponents. To do this, you can grapple, tackle, use tandem moves, counter-attack and so on. By combining attacks, you build a rage meter and when the bar’s filled up, you enter rage mode which means that your regular attacks are more powerful and you have access to finishing moves.
As someone who’s been playing beat ’em ups for the largest portion of his life, one of the genre’s problems is that mashing buttons to defeat waves of enemies isn’t fun if there’s nothing that holds your attention between fights. The Warriors avoids this by introducing new mechanics and a variety of missions. During some of the street fights, you need to avoid the cops who can send you to jail or handcuff your friends. Should this happen, you enter a simplistic mini-game that gives you the chance to free yourself or your buddies. As the leader of The Warriors, you can give commands to your buddies which allows you to attack everyone in sight, smash everything, follow you, defend, split up, hide and stand their ground. But it doesn’t end there, you can mug people, steal car radios, hide, use stealth manoeuvres and interact with different weapons lying around.
That’s all part of the main story mode, but there are additional modes at your disposal. Rumble mode is a multiplayer mode that features mini-games. There’s also a more traditional two-player mode where two friends can play together using local connection. By the way, the best extra mode is called “Armies of the Night” and it’s an homage to old-school 2D brawlers, particularly Final Fight, and you can play it in the form of an arcade machine.
Finally, there’s a slew of extra missions that you unlock as you progress through the game and some of them are amazing. In Rumble mode, you can create a gang and complete several missions that have specific requirements such as beating two opponents or your own. In Flashback, you can play some of the stories of some of the members of The Warriors which let’s you see some of the reasons why they decided to join the group.
The Warriors might follow the traditional beat ’em up formula, but for every classic feature that it borrows, the portable game incorporates something new, making the experience fresh and compelling for fans of the genre as well as newcomers. The variety of modes, relentless story mode, terrific voice acting and engaging gameplay make The Warriors one of the best beat ’em ups in recent memory and that’s no small feat.