Review: The Warriors: Street Brawl

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Cult gang flick The Warriors celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, and to commemorate the occasion Paramount whipped up an Xbox Live Arcade brawler based on the movie. Not to be confused with The Warriors game Rockstar produced last generation – which was a much, much better game, I might add – The Warriors: Street Brawl is an archetypal beat-‘em-up in the mold of old genre classics like Final Fight, Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, only you get to slug away at rival gangs with Warriors favorites like Cochise, Swan, Rembrandt, Ajax and Vermin, and experience the movie plot presented via still-image cutscenes.

To even mention The Warriors: Street Brawl with those classic games, though, is blasphemous, because, put bluntly, it just isn’t that fun or well put together.

Street Brawl does at least get the basics right, I’ll give it that. As your favorite Warrior you can go at it solo or team up with up to three other players – local or online – move through 21 side-scrolling stages and pound away at thugs with simple punch and kick combos, different weapon pick-ups like bats and pipes, and crowd-clearing special attacks. And true to the genre, there are plenty of score bonuses and health boosters like whole chickens, soda cans and pizza slices to collect.

But unfortunately it’s all downhill from there. While the game is simple and accessible to play like a beat-‘em-up should be, the controls and attack animations are far too clunky to be enjoyable. Playing the game by yourself also verges on impossible, because without backup enemies gang up quickly and cheap shot you so much you’ll wish the game was on a CD so you could pull it out of your Xbox 360 and smash it to pieces. I won’t lie to you – the game is so cheap I haven’t been able to complete the story mode by myself. But thankfully the multiplayer is much more forgiving.

Indeed, playing multiplayer is the only way to squeeze any form of entertainment out of Street Brawl, and for what it’s worth the online performance is steady, and it is usually fairly easy to get a match going. But with more players on the screen a whole new set of problems pops up, mainly the poor camera system. The levels are generally pretty cramped, so when you have four players fighting with at least the same number of enemies the screen clutters up and it’s difficult to discern friend from foe and see who is attacking who. The dark, ugly graphics don’t make it any easier to see the action, either.

Another big problem is how the camera transitions between scenes. Once you’ve cleared an area and get the arrow indicator telling you to move to the next area, getting the level to scroll forward basically requires all four players to push up against the right side of the screen as close as possible. If one player straggles behind just a little you can’t proceed — it’s so restrictive that I initially thought the game was bugged. And because you have to get so close to the edge of the screen to scroll forward, you’ll often find yourself getting sucker punched by an off-screen enemy when you reach the next spawn point.

With such elementary design flaws, The Warriors: Street Brawl is a clear-cut skipper. There are too many other good beat-‘em-ups on the Xbox Live Arcade that are far more deserving of your 800 MS Points, and there really isn’t even enough fan service to win over cult followers of the movie.

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Pros:
+ Multiplayer is halfway decent

Cons:
– Clunky controls and animations
– Frustratingly cheap enemy AI
– Virtually impossible to play solo
– Faulty camera system
– Ugly graphics and lame story presentation

Game Info:
Platform: Xbox 360 via XBLA
Publisher: Paramount Digital Entertainment
Developer: CXTM
Release Date: 9/23/09
Genre: Beat-’em-up
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-4 (local and online)
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!