They say that the games industry and Hollywood are comparable in terms of size and money. In terms of raiding old IP they are peas in a pod, so, in what seems to be on page one of the industry best-practice manual, Capcom has decided to update an old franchise for the current generation.
But what a franchise to update; Final Fight is arguably the greatest 2D scrolling-brawler ever (cue arguments about Streets of Rage 2 being the best). Of course, the world in which a simple 2D update of Final Fight would be acceptable has long since gone, and so the FF world moves into 3D. It's not only the perspective that has changed, though. Indeed, the simple move-fight-move gameplay that was prevalent back in the day has also been consigned to memory. Instead, what we have is a more freeform approach, and we've been able to play a few levels to see what else is new.
Fans of the original titles will recall Cody Travers was one of the main playable characters. In Streetwise, though, he has gone and got himself kidnapped, so it's up to his brother, Kyle, to save him. The task would be that much easier were it not for the fact that Metro City is also in the grips of a drug epidemic, caused by those crazy kids and their designer drugs that happen to have nasty side-effects. This allows Capcom to justify both the number of crazed and aggressive folk wandering the streets, and the general destruction you'll witness. Clearly, Mike Hagger wasn't a great mayor.
Viewed from a 3rd-person perspective, you'll roam around various locales (which all seem to be plagued with perpetual darkness) and talk to the inhabitants that don't want to hurt you. Some will offer nothing other than a quip or irrelevant comment, but some will offer you a short side quest.
In the first level we played, speaking to such a resident sparked a side mission to get his son a baseball bat. Of course, side missions are exactly that - you don't have to accept it, but where is the fun in that? Of course, the meat of the game is in the brawling, and - unsurprisingly - the combat has also progressed somewhat since the good old days. With light, heavy and grabbing attacks you can perform various combos to dispatch those who oppose you. In addition to your fists and feet you can also make use of any weapons that happen to appear, and these can alter the attacks you can perform. Performing a grab attack whilst holding a baseball bat, for example, has you use the bat to choke your foe, rather than picking him up and throwing him.
The second level was a mass-brawl in an overrun Metro City, due in no small part to the aforementioned designer drug, allowing plenty of opportunity to kick ass. That said, the combat on the whole was unremarkable, doing nothing particularly wrong nor providing an out of this world experience. To give it a boost in the arm (and in a nod to EA's Lord of the Rings brawlers), there's a system in place that rewards defeating enemies quickly over protracted bouts, as well as money to pick up, allowing new moves and weapons to be purchased.
Aesthetically the game looked, to be frank, just like any other 3rd-person title. Hopefully the full game will feature some more diversity than shown in the dark warehouse or nondescript streets. Punches sounded nice and weighty, though, with light and heavy attacks sounding suitably painful. Oh, and there was plenty of swearing, too, thereby immediately (and needlessly) increasing the rating no doubt.
At this stage we're not sure if the combat system and the more open nature of the game will be enough to keep players interested. We'll bring you more on the game as its fall release date approaches.