There are plenty of times when you'll have to play things stealthy, lest large swarms of opposing gang members or cops come barreling down on you. Sometimes it's when you're trying to make an escape, or sometimes it's when you're out to make some moves, like getting your tag on in a graffiti-tagging challenge. Admittedly, the stealth portions of the game are probably the weakest, simply because the stealth attacks tend to be more trouble to pull off than they're worth. But the sequences themselves are usually set up quite well, since the level designs often provide plenty of nifty hiding spots and unique paths to check out--plus, it's rarely too difficult to bop your way out of a bad situation, should you find yourself in one.
The gang of mimes isn't even the weirdest crew you'll run into in this game.
The rival gangs aren't always the most challenging opponents to beat down, but they don't go down without some measure of fight. They've always got numbers on their side, and gang-member AI is usually pretty solid. Cops are another story--they, like gangs, will swarm in numbers, but they're incredibly tough to knock down. They have a nasty habit of arresting your brothers in arms, forcing you to periodically run over and unlock them via a quick button-mashing minigame. It's best to try to avoid cop fights whenever possible; but sometimes it isn't possible, and these brawls can be kind of frustrating. Fortunately, The Warriors employs a good checkpoint save system, making it so that you rarely have to do long sequences over and over again.
What The Warriors ultimately does best is tie together film and game. For those of you who have never seen the film, it took an almost parodied look at the gang scene of New York from some 25 years ago, with lots of kooky-themed gangs, like the Hi-Hats, a group of malcontent mimes that run Broadway; the Baseball Furies, a crew of baseball fanatics, complete with uniforms, bats, and freaky face paint; and the Gramercy Riffs, a group of martial-arts-loving brothers with a military-like level of discipline and dedication. All of these gangs live and breathe in a bleak, scuzzy, almost postapocalyptic vision of NYC. Every building, tree, and car has a dingy, soiled look to it, and it's picture perfect for the look of the film. The game expands on the gangs, giving groups like the Hi-Hats, Destroyers, and Boppers more screen time. It also takes sequences from the film, like the fight against the Baseball Furies and the ambush by the all-girl crew known as the Lizzies, and turns them into great gameplay bits. Some of the boss fights, in particular, are great fun. A few come off a little haphazardly, but those few are definitely in the minority.
Given the art design, the destructible environments, and the general flurries of mayhem you can cause, you'd think that The Warriors would be a pretty fantastic-looking game. You'd be wrong. Certainly, the aesthetics aren't without merit, but the basic graphics engine the game uses does little to impress--especially now that it has been scaled down for the PSP hardware. You won't notice it as much with the environments, because everything is supposed to be drab anyway, thus making the generally low-res textures and minimalist lighting seem completely normal. The character models, however, are not good at all. Sure, the developers got all the nifty little character details in there, but the faces, body parts, and costumes are kind of ugly. On consoles, this was a bit more forgivable because at least the frame rate stayed smooth. On the PSP, the game is much more prone to random bouts of slowdown. The camera is also markedly worse in this version because, once again, of the lack of a right analog stick to control it. The camera has a tendency to get in your way at inopportune times, especially when you're in the midst of battle. It's not awful, and for the most part things are framed well, but when you're in a tight space and surrounded by cops, it rarely works to your benefit. However, on the plus side, the game doesn't suffer from sluggish loading times. Save for a couple of spots where things take a bit long, most of the loads are fairly quick and don't get in the way of the game whatsoever.
The audio, on the other hand, is on the other side of the scale. Many of the original actors from the film have returned to voice their characters--at least, most of the ones that are still alive. Guys like Michael Beck, James Remar, and Dorsey Wright once again turn in excellent performances (despite sounding quite a bit older than the 20-something characters they play), and the remaining voice cast delivers, too. It helps that the dialogue is well written, but there's hardly a bad voice actor in the bunch. The one weird thing about the voice work, though, is that a lot of it is made up of lines directly from the film. It seems as though, in some situations, Rockstar might have been better off just taking audio directly from the film rather than rerecording it. Obviously, the developers would want the voices to match, but there are situations in which they could have easily gotten away with it and ultimately would have had a better piece of dialogue.
Barry De Vorzon's original score is fully intact here, as are many of the licensed tracks from the original soundtrack, including songs from artists like Joe Walsh, Fear, and Arnold McCuller. All the songs are most definitely of the '70s, helping to give the game that pulpy, retro vibe that it so clearly seeks. The Warriors also boasts some excellent sound effects. Every hit is delivered with a high level of ferocity, and you feel each and every one of them. As things get hectic and start breaking apart all over the place, the din of battle can get pretty deafening. It's just excellent audio work all around, and it really increases the intensity of battle by quite a margin.
The graphics are technically unattractive, but there's definitely some style points to be given.
When all is said and done with the story mode, The Warriors provides a good bit of extra content to play around with. There are multiple multiplayer modes, including ad hoc two-player co-op for any story mission, as well as a few unique minigames such as quick rumbles, a capture-the-flag variation (involving a girl instead of a flag), and king of the hill. The minigames are merely amusing distractions, although one bonus game stands out as completely awesome. Titled Armies of the Night, it's basically a side-scrolling beat-'em-up in the tradition of Final Fight or Double Dragon and includes the opening sequence from Double Dragon, verbatim. The cooperative play is about what you'd expect, and it doesn't involve a lot of actual cooperation so much as it does two people standing next to each other, beating up a lot of dudes. The PSP version's co-op play lacks the ability you had in the console versions to drop in and out at any time during a game (you can only join in during the initial game load). But playing co-op on the PSP also eliminates the need for the screen to split whenever one of you runs too far away from the other. It's a trade-off, and a livable one at that.
Though there is ultimately little appeal in the PSP version of The Warriors for those who have already played the game on other platforms, PSP owners who missed out on the original release won't find a gimped version of the game here. The few problems with this port are relatively mild, and the cheap price makes the game's hefty amount of content that much more appealing. Of course, you could just as easily go out and buy the PS2 or Xbox versions of The Warriors today for the same price, and the console versions will always be the ideal way to play this game. But if you prefer your gaming on the go, The Warriors on the PSP won't let you down.