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Final Fight: Streetwise (Xbox) artwork

Final Fight: Streetwise (Xbox) review

"For me, though, there's one particularly insane, earth-shattering scene that sums up all the wrong things about Final Fight: Streetwise. I would like to note this happens AFTER you defeat a monster that attacks with electricity and replenishes health by eating mutant rats."

The best compliment I'll give Final Fight: Streetwise is that its main play mechanics are stable for a 3D beat 'em up, lunging gamers into brawls where they pounce thugs with combos, use a lock-on to concentrate on one goon, exhaust a special bar for stronger attacks, and gain new moves as progress is earned. However, as the latest sequel to one of the genre's most influential titles, that's what makes this resurrection of the franchise a disappointment; Final Fight inspired a slew of titles with its straight-forward, fine-tuned mechanics, larger than life characters, and an abundance of fighters on screen at any given time, while Streetwise almost does the exact opposite by copying other 3D brawlers. The development team also tried making it different from the other Final Fights by including new elements in an attempt to appease a new generation's sensibilities, but in doing so, lost what made the series fun, alienating long time fans in the process.

Capcom Production Studio 8, whose name you're forced to stare at before you can navigate the main menu every time, took it upon itself to make Streetwise more than just a beat 'em up. The dev team created a small hub world, meaning for the first time, players can freely venture the streets of Metro City, either going to specific areas to advance the story, starting up side missions by talking to inhabitants, or enter certain buildings, like the local porn theater or music shop where you can purchase licensed rap and metal songs to play in the background. The latter which is clearly part of Studio 8's attempts to make a more "mature" and "gritty" Final Fight. There's even a respect meter going on in each of the hub's four districts, which rise or fall depending on whether you beat on thugs or normal civilians. The higher the respect, the lower gang encounters become.

Actually sounds like a good idea for this type of game, but when you play Streetwise, you quickly realize Studio 8 botched the execution. Every aspect instilled into the hub really feels half-assed and makes you wonder why they bothered in the first place, like purchasing health, which is very questionable since they're easy to obtain in missions. The side missions are also absurd, because 90% of them simply involve beating up thugs... the thing you already do in the main missions. The remaining side missions are boring mini-games, like card shuffling, playing darts against an elderly woman, and the most disgusting of all, stomping large roaches and rats. The only reason to do any is to earn money, to buy more moves and bigger health bars. The respect aspect is also a waste of time, as it virtually has no true impact or value, especially since you can easily run past gangs. Makes you think: was the whole hub concept tossed in due to the sandbox boom, trying to entice GTA players and the like into buying this?

It adds variety, sure, but what's the point if it feels like you're doing more work than having fun? Studio 8 should've concentrated solely on creating a pure beat 'em up experience, thinking up ways to enhance and improve the formula, instead of throwing in ideas that do nothing but act as bloated filler. And no, including a bonus arcade mode in the style of the old games doesn't really count. It's neat, but it shouldn't be a Get out of Jail Free card for the main mode. I'd also crack a joke about how it feels like you're really paying for the original arcade game included as an extra, but I can't even do that! The emulation by Ultracade is downright insulting, featuring broken music and a horrific framerate that shouldn't have been a problem to begin with.

If, for some reason, you decide to ride it out and complete Streetwise, you're in for a multitude of surprises, most of which are shocking, none of which are good. The game begins in an unimpressive fashion where the protagonist, Kyle Travers, goes around beating unmemorable thugs and cursing up a storm in boring cutscenes with uninteresting, "hip" characters, all in an attempt to find his older brother, Cody, who went missing. Then you hit the halfway point, and this is where Studio 8 masterfully jumps the shark multiple times. The plot goes from a simple kidnapping to the dangers of drugs, as you must find a crazed Cody addicted to a new drug going around. This... somehow leads to a zombie apocalypse in Metro City, led by a preacher, and before you can even process the bizarre change of pace, like gunning down an army of zombies and thugs with a mounted chain gun, you find yourself inside a church, fighting a super zombie that has a dozen arms, acid dripping from its body, and is able to spit out exploding green blobs that resemble the creatures from Puyo Puyo.

For me, though, there's one particularly insane, earth-shattering scene that sums up all the wrong things about Final Fight: Streetwise. I would like to note this happens AFTER you defeat a monster that attacks with electricity and replenishes health by eating mutant rats. Kyle is being patched in a gym by the doctor responsible for the new drug, and when Mike Haggar deduces the woman won't cooperate with them, Guy, complete with a stylish and expensive suit, magically pulls out a gun and contemplates murdering her. If I can give out an award for Most Unexpected Pimp Moment, I'd give it to this scene. It's unbelievable:


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (March 11, 2012)

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