This is not the Final Fight your father remembers or the game you remember as a young whipper snapper. It's not a game that anyone will want to remember. The only real similarity Final Fight: Streetwise has to the classic brawler is the name on the front of the box. It's good that you know that right from the start, as I don't want you to think I'm trashing your favourite childhood game; I love it as much as you did, trust me. But when something I love is used as a tool to hurt me, it makes me angry. So let me just slip the gloves off on this occasion, and we'll begin.
Right from the start Final Fight looks like a budget game. It might be a small element of the whole game, but when a menu screen looks as bad as this it becomes worthy of comment; well, let's just say it didn't fill me with hope, with its washed out colours and un-inspired game logo. My first steps into story mode show that this is a theme Capcom is determined to hold onto throughout the game - at least they're consistent. The very first fight location shows the same artistic flair evident in the menu screen: scummy brown, with a hint of dull grey. Not the first impression any game wants to leave you with.
Anyway, the story mode drops you into a pit fight right from the word go. It's the location were the vast majority of your one on one fights will happen, and the place which uses the aforementioned inventive colour scheme. From this opening fight we discover that you'll be playing as Kyle, brother of our old friend Cody from the first game. Indeed, this is the most concrete connection to the original game, and it's still fairly superfluous. The story itself is so randomly thrown together that it could have easily been released without being attached to any existing IP. It wouldn't surprise me if the game had the Final Fight elements tacked on mid way through development in order to shift copies of a game that Capcom had no idea what to do with.
It's not all bad, I suppose. The fighting system is perfectly competent. But that's all it is. It has the standard range of punches and kick that can be chained into combos, and factors in an 'Instinct' meter which allows for more damaging attacks. Successful combos bring up clichéd encouragements as you rack up the kills, but they just help the game wallow even deeper in the embarrassing mess it has created. "Bangin!" indeed...
The game's main story includes various other features that are intended to lend depth to Final Fight's game world. Respect is presented near the start of the game as something that will effect how people react to you - not a new idea in video games, but it seemed like the developers were making an effort at least. However, despite completing numerous missions and boosting my respect through the roof, the sum total result of my increased respect bar was an AI character shouting "You da man!" at me as I ran past him. Utter rubbish!
Mini-games are often a fun diversion in games of this type, but in Streetwise they become a major headache by being integral to the main campaign. Fancy spending half an hour trying to complete a non-sensical light puzzle to open a door? How about trying to crush fifteen cockroaches when one of them has glitched into the wall and has become impossible to reach? It's not exactly what players will be expecting from a Final Fight game, but given the quality exhibited elsewhere in the title, it's hardly surprising.
The core dialogue isn't much better than the "You da man!" that someone shouted at me in the street. In some ways it's a lot worse - at least the shouts of the NPCs never made me laugh out loud. Poor dialogue localisation can ruin even great games, but in this case it's just another element to add to the list. When paired with the incredibly uninspiring visuals, it's a match made in disappointing game heaven. It really does seem like this was a project given to the evening cleaners at Capcom HQ, as something to do in-between emptying bins and cleaning toilets.
After this laundry list of complaints, you'd certainly think that I've covered most of the worst parts of this game, right? Wrong. The camera is one of the worst I have ever seen in a game. It's appalling, and completely uncontrollable, requiring constant attention and manipulation in even the most basic of situations. When it causes a headache as you're simply strolling down an empty street, you can imagine what a joy it is when you're in the middle of a big fight.
It's hard to talk about Final Fight: Streetwise without sounding overly scornful or critical, but here's the thing: it deserves every harsh word written about it. It's the worst kind of cynical cash in and not only damages the legacy of Final Fight, but damages Capcom's reputation as a forward thinking games publisher. It's just a shame that a few people will be fooled into buying the game purely by reading the name on the box. Whether you're a fan of the original or simply enjoy 3D beat 'em ups, I have only one thing to say to you: Don't buy this game.