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Streets of Fury (Xbox 360) artwork

Streets of Fury (Xbox 360) review

"They're designed and animated using digitalized actors (kind of like Mortal Kombat), which was an interesting choice to say the least. And occasionally comical, as when certain foes go down, they tend to fall as gingerly as possible, as if the actor was thinking, "Gotta be careful! Don't want to bruise my hip or anything making this look good!""

Back in the day, if there was one arcade game that really drained my pockets of quarters, it was Final Fight. There was just a sort of visceral thrill in bludgeoning the crap out of random thugs. Being able to pick up some chump, leap into the air with him and pile-drive his head into a city street is the sort of awesomeness I feel any youth should experience at some point -- and by only doing it in games, there's no fear of being arrested for felonious assault!

But as time went on, 2-D brawlers like Final Fight and Streets of Rage fell by the wayside. Sure, it was fun to go back and play those old games from time to time, but without new games in that mold being released, it seemed like all I had were memories of the past. Once upon a time, I never imagined I'd say this, but one can only bash Andore's head in with a steel pipe so many times before the experience starts to lose its luster.

Fortunately, there are indie programmers out there who feel like I do about this genre, which led me to Streets of Fury. Available as an indie game over the XBox 360 for some ridiculously low cost like $3, it provided me with a touch of nostalgia, if nothing else. While I wouldn't say this game possesses the addictive greatness I saw in Final Fight, it is a fairly enjoyable diversion loaded with plenty of unlockable content.

You get the standard paper-thin and logic-free "story" that most of these games have. In this case, street gangs have taken over Paris, so we decided to show those Europeans how to do carnage properly by sending over the best of our L.A. gangsters to clean up the place. There are four characters initially available with five more to be unlocked. Streets of Fury also has multiple difficulty levels, some of which (including one where you can customize most everything about the game) also need unlocked. The primary way to earn points towards obtaining all these goodies is by beating the game repeatedly, which (in theory) adds to its replay value.

Another thing that could make gamers want to play Streets of Fury a few times is its two different scenarios. In the first one, your character is simply out to destroy the five gang leaders and their legions of henchmen. The second allows you to recruit them and start your own posse -- until the very end when you and your allies have one huge fight for all the marbles. There's also a survival mode, where the goal is simply to beat down as many foes as possible before your life bar is drained. Up to four players can take on the Parisian gangs at once and there are some other multiplayer exercises.

There's also a quirky vibe here that intrigues me. Virtually the entire soundtrack is composed of club music and many characters look more like MCs than battle-tested brawlers. They're designed and animated using digitalized actors (kind of like Mortal Kombat), which was an interesting choice to say the least. And occasionally comical, as when certain foes go down, they tend to fall as gingerly as possible, as if the actor was thinking, "Gotta be careful! Don't want to bruise my hip or anything making this look good!"

I did find a huge flaw with that decision, though, as there just weren't enough actors being used. There are a tiny number of character designs in this game, with palette swapping being the order of the day. Player characters, enemy grunts and bosses are played by the same actors, which leads to the game coming off as somewhat repetitive and generic. When I'm controlling a character and notice that a number of enemies are essentially his clones, that makes me think a bit more work should have gone into character creation. When I'm entering a big fight and notice that my opponents are 20 or so of the same hoodie-wearing dude who only differ in size and (occasionally) the color of their garb, now I'm REALLY thinking more work should have gone into this project.

Which is a feeling that only grew as I continued playing. It didn't take long to realize that Streets of Fury has no weaponry to pick up and use on opponents. You have bonus stages after each boss fight, but they all seem like pointless exercises where you monotonously bash helpless adversaries until you mercifully are allowed to get back to the actual game. For an indie game, it's well made and I can see me coming back to it every great once in a while, but there are a number of ways in which it could have been better.

Which is kind of a shame, as it's obvious that a certain amount of care was put into giving this game replay value. I'd have to go through it a number of times to unlock all the characters and options, but after playing both scenarios a couple of times, I really have no desire to do so again in the immediate future. Since Streets of Fury only costs $3, I'd say it's definitely worth the money -- just don't expect this one to have the shelf life of those endearing classic brawlers.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 08, 2009)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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