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The Warriors

Hands-on with Rockstar's portable-ised camp bruiser

In a time when arcade gaming had fallen into a niche and game bruisers were all but gone from the rosters, Rockstar's game adaptation of 70s gangbanger The Warriors was a welcome and enjoyable button masher to crop up on consoles, receiving somewhat high levels of acclaim. And now you can play it on the toilet!

Thankfully Warriors PSP isn't just a quick cash-in; upon picking up the PSP version it's immediately evident that the chaps at Rockstar have put it upon themselves to do The Warriors justice on Sony's handheld, with all the production value and sharper-than-knives widescreen visuals found in the portable GTA titles, along with bolstered wi-fi multiplayer modes for some truly excellent co-operative brawling - making us wish we had an extra PSP tucked away in our travel bag.

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The mission we're tearing through (or attempting at least) is a tag battle on the disturbing and mime-like High Hats' turf, which after an explosive US-Xbox-meets-UK-power-supply incident left our console version to dust, is surprisingly difficult.

In case you're not familiar, the tag-off has you and three rival gangs fighting to finish a piece of graffiti art first, with each crew racing to pick up paint spawns and the occasional headbutt hampering your progress.

In all cases the handheld version is a functional and faithful port of the original. Visually, it looks if anything even better than either the PS2 or Xbox versions - the PSP's ultra-sharp widescreen taking most of the credit for making Warriors look lovely in 2007.

Controls have also taken the transformation without much of a hitch; although somewhat worrying is Rockstar's insistence to restrict player movement to just the thumb nub, like in the PSP Grand Theft Autos.

After prolonged play on the latter crime series we had to resort to bathing our digits into glasses of ice water to continue play, and we're hoping that The Warriors doesn't end up causing similar RSI incidents.

After several embarrassing retries we eventually moved on to the next section of our demo, which had us legging it from the Mickey Mouse-voiced High Hats after blitzing their wall-tag contest. This scripted chase scene thankfully caused less problems for the PSP's questionable thumb nub than we anticipated, and helped show of handheld Warrior's greatest strength; it's fantastic wi-fi co-op play.

All of the oldschool beat-em-up gameplay has made the transition to PSP untouched, and arguably works even better with a lovely PSP screen to yourself and the option to do mock-kicks round the office during play.

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Noticing this, Rockstar has pushed Armies of the Night - one of the console version's lesser-known extras and top multiplayer sections - to the forefront; it's a 2D Streets of Rage-style mini-game, which was previously only available by clearing all the story missions - but on PSP is yours from the start.

Now we say mini-game, but this sidescrolling beat-em-up satire actually has as many levels as there are gangs in the main game (we're guessing ten), and nearly kept us playing well passed return-to-the-office-or-you're-sacked-o-clock.

Rockstar's trademark humour is evident throughout; the mini-game is one big mickey-take of the whole scrolling beat-em-up genre - characters with firsts permanently in the air, cheesy 80s sound effects and burly blokes looking non-sealant before twatting you in the face with a bit of wood. It works well on the PSP and we bloody love it.

We're told to expect The Warriors PSP sometime next month - the perfect time to fill a gap in the early year gaming gap. Look out for our verdict sometime in the weeks running up to release.

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