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Hands-On: The Warriors Co-Op

We check out co-op play in Rockstar's movie-based brawler for some street level knuckle-busting with a friend

Okay, we hold our hands in the air and hang our heads in shame - we've never seen 70s cult classic movie The Warriors. Thusly, we've been mildly bewildered by Rockstar's retro film tie-in every time new game info's plopped into our laps. Now though, we've had chance to sit down and go fist to face through the streets of Coney Island in The Warriors game's much-vaunted co-op mode and, you know what? Everything makes a whole lot more sense.

Our US cousins already have the game tickling their palms and us Europeans will be able to pick up Rockstar's brutal brawl-a-thon from Friday, so now seemed like the perfect time to clue in those last-minute skeptics before its release. First things first: a full and detailed knowledge of the movie definitely isn't required to enjoy the game - although fans are likely to feel tiny shivers of gleeful recognition when they get to slide into the body of their favourite Warrior. Wait, that sounds rude.

For all its camp 70s authenticity, The Warriors still sports Rockstar's trademark brutality and street fights take their cue from classic brawlers like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. It's no surprise then that kicking eighteen shades of purple into your rival gang opponents is all the merrier side by side with another human ally.

As far as the basics go, stomping and slapping around enemy turf couldn't be easier with one button each assigned to light attacks, heavy attacks and grab moves - there's even a handy tutorial where your fellow Warriors train you in the methods of fisticuffs by way of prey-for-pay tramps taking a beating from your rookie paws. It's immediately obvious how insanely violent the game is with the piece de resistance in our eyes being the ability to clutch at your nearest enemy and smash him repeatedly, head first into the nearest wall. It's brutal and nasty, but what else do you expect from Rockstar?

Adding some variety to the proceedings, each member of The Warriors employs a different fighting style, ranging from your basic bludgeoning to martial arts and the three basic fighting mechanics can be mixed up to form a vast array of combo possibilities. Of course, the swisher your combat skills, the more you'll be rewarded - stylish execution fills your on-screen meter until you're able to unleash a devastatingly destructive finishing move. Oh yes, and one more thing: you can pick up nearly anything you find littering the urban scrawl and use it to bash in your opponents' brains. We'll never look at a dustbin the same way again.

Although there's a nifty Rumble Mode where you can go gang-on-gang with either co-op or versus play for some quick and cheap thrills, the meat of the action takes place in the story mode - interestingly, the game's plot goes it alone for the first two thirds, only picking up the movie original's story toward the end of the game. Mercifully, your buddies can hop in and out of co-op play at any time during the game, meaning you won't have to start a-fresh if you've been hammering through the experience on your own for a couple of days. And what of that experience? Well, we only saw a couple of the missions you'll play through and they offer up some good, solid - if far from groundbreaking - brawling action.

The missions themselves are pretty varied, despite the focus being squarely on raw-knuckle carnage. The one we spent the most time with was close to the beginning of the game and saw The Warriors on a late night spree through the city, attempting to desecrate rival gang The Destroyers' graffiti tags around the moonlit streets. Alongside the constant threat of irate enemies, the level also charged us with the removal of the opposing gang's tags by way of a nifty little mini-game-style task.

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