A few months ago, I went down memory lane and decided to play one of my favorite button mashers, Final Fight on my Super Nintendo. That nostalgia prompted me to go out and look for more Final Fight games seeing as I only had that one in my collection. My hunting around used games stores and thrift shops helped me find a title that I knew existed but hadn’t had time to play, Final Fight: Streetwise. Capcom wanted to bring the old 2D classic back into the 3D world on the PlayStation 2, and they did a mediocre job at best. In my opinion, this generation of gaming did not age too well, especially when they were rushed or not cared about. It blows my mind that Capcom who released the Resident Evil Remake four years before this game made such an ugly looking entry. I know they were two different systems and most likely different developers, but technology generally gets better as time progresses, I don’t know why Capcom couldn’t make this game as pretty as the Spencer Mansion adventure.
That being said, the game doesn’t look amazing at all; at least the original Final Fight was colorful, the character design was creative and insanely memorable. Streetwise is very dingy and not beautifully animated. I understand that Capcom was shooting for a gritty Fight Club-esque feel to the game, and they did pull it off. The city that you venture around in is a dank and drab one; it is a city that I wouldn’t want to live in. Everywhere I took my character, there was a hooker who needed a hand or a thug robbing some poor old woman. Graft and vice were everywhere and you were there to lend a helping hand to the destitute. The story is as flimsy as the original’s; you play as Kyle who is trying to make his name as a streetfighter and Cody is your friend and your coach. He also bears a striking resemblance to the first games Cody. After a big fight you and Cody are sitting at a bar when some mean looking dudes wander in looking for Cody. After a lengthy battle, they cheap shot you and make off with Cody; it is up to you to save him.
The controls aren’t too bad for a 3D brawler; they’re responsive and there’s no lag to assist you in getting your butt kicked. The “X” button is quick punch, and you can land a large amount of these on enemies in quick succession if your thumb is fast. Circle is grab and square is heavy punch. Doing combos between X and square is the best way to fell the multiple enemies that come at you. L1 is block. This is an extremely important button, some guys will come at you with bats and such and you need to block that to stay alive. Of course once you knock the bats out of their hands you can pick it up and lay some waste with it. Sadly the weapons you find disappear unusually fast. I lost a bat after about three strikes: must have been a knock off. In your travels, you meet interesting people. These include some that befriend you and you get to play games with (one that I remember emphatically is the arm wrestling. I remember it because it reminded me of Mortal Kombat, when you “test your might,” you just button mash until you win). There are also events that make you torture some degenerate and those are well timed quick-time events. Overall, it has a very easy to master control scheme.
The voice-overs are laughable at best. I don’t know if the actors were going for overly corny, but they missed the mark if they were. Long gone are the days of a “Jill Sandwhich,” and “masters of unlocking,” in are the days of self doubt filled with angst. The music is forgettable. As I sit here and type this, I cannot for the life of me remember any music from this game that I can hum. So if you’re looking for Last of Us style voice-overs or an over the top epic musical masterpiece look elsewhere. Other laughable parts of the game are the combo. When you combo, the game tries to tell you how badass you are like Devil May Cry, but it just falls flat. Plus, since you are battling in a 3D world it is difficult to line up punches, which makes you swing and miss quite a few times.The whole game seemed to be toggled together just to jump on the Fight Club bandwagon, with no real love for the game or desire to make it really good.
The game does try to be a good game. It has an open world to explore, non-story quests and missions for you to enjoy, and the feel of the Fight Club movie. However it just doesn’t gel together correctly, and something about the game just seems off to me. Winning a fight didn’t seem like an accomplishment, and I really didn’t care if I saved Cody or not. I wandered around the city, beat up some crooks, arm wrestled some folks, worked out at the gym and so on. If you want to play an older open world beat ’em up then by all means pick up The Warriors; that game has this formula down. Or if you’re looking for a challenging beat ’em up with a better sense of humor, pick up God Hand; that game is a riot but it is insanely difficult. What I am telling you is to avoid this version of Final Fight and pick up the original; you’ll thank me for it later.