Streetwise suffers from one hit in the head too many. by Cole Smith

March 14, 2006 - Final Fight: Streetwise belongs on the street and not in your home. It's lean and lame and in no way should have ever been made available for the Xbox - unless as an unlockable mode or a bonus disk from another game. To add insult to injury, Final Fight: Streetwise offers the arcade version as a bonus unlockable - and it doesn't play nearly as good as the original game. If everything in this package were priced at the bargain price of $9.95, you would be paying ten dollars too much.

Final Fight: Streetwise is about fighting for a better life, fighting to earn respect, fighting to exact revenge, fighting to earn money to acquire more things to make you a better fighter, and fighting for the love of it. Needless to say there seems to be a lot of fighting going on in this game. It's just too bad the actual in-game fighting is not very good.

The story is in all actuality not bad but it's executed badly with awful dialog and terrible voiceacting. It stars Kyle Travers, the younger brother of the infamous Cody, an ex-con that is getting too old to fight. Years ago Cody and Kyle fought various thugs and gangs to clean up their 'hood in Metro City. But trouble is brewing as gangs and other lowlifes are back in town and pushing a new drug called Glow. It gives the user superhuman strength and also causes him or her to glow. During a fracas Cody gets abducted by some gang members and it's up to Kyle to kick some ass and set things right.

The gameplay is somewhat open-ended but if you consider that you have to rise through the ranks in some kind of order, the game would be considered linear. You will have the option to explore the city where you will encounter a variety of opponents. But the gameplay is not all about fighting, although the overwhelming majority of it is. There are side missions that you can perform for people in your 'hood. Not only will you help improve the city but you will earn money for your efforts. Some of the side missions are ridiculous and have nothing to do with the gameplay at all. Things like slide puzzles are annoying and don't particularly add an enjoyable diversion from fighting. There are other side missions such as helping a shopkeeper stomp on rats and cockroaches that does figure into the gameplay and is somewhat fun. These were the only elements of fun that I experienced in the entire game.

Money earned from fighting and side missions can be used to purchase new moves, combos and more powerful attacks. Much of the gameplay involves button mashing. Combos may be neat to execute but they aren't necessary. Just acquire as much power as you can in your hits and mash those buttons. The enemies aren't very strong and you can usually take on an entire gang with your fists and a simple weapon. The AI don't all attack at once but you can usually take out a few with a good swiping move. The boss battles are a little more involved in that they follow a more complex pattern. You have to exercise some patience and watch the boss's moves carefully. It's not imperative that you memorize the pattern so much as you block and take cover, attacking only when you see an opening.

As a Pit Fighter, Kyle's main weapons are his fists. He can use items in the environment such as sticks, bats, clubs and knives. His moves are a blend of Marital Arts and wresting grapples. Overall the combat system is shallow but it does feel better when used in the multi-player mode, if only because your opponent must use the same limited control system which is more of a challenge than the single-player mode. Don't get me wrong, there are very strong characters that you will encounter in the single-player mode but their intelligence is obviously artificial.

The game looks bad - and I wouldn't expect anything less considering how bad the gameplay is. Compared to the 2D cartoonish version of the original, the 3D game is dark and low-res. The backdrop portions of the city are generic, low-res and are repeated throughout. There are so many repeated sections that it's difficult to tell where you are, where you're going, and where you've been. Fortunately there is an arrow that will point the way. It should really be pointing at the Quit button.

The unlockable arcade version is not the arcade version you remember. It plays very erratically with lots of slowdown during fighting. The control commands are, at times, delayed which makes this bonus feature virtually unplayable.

If there's any good reason to purchase, rent or even borrow this game, I haven't found it.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer
Rating out of 5
Final Fight: Streetwise (PS2)
Whether it's the original arcade version or the new, 3D version, the graphics are ugly and not worthy of being on the Xbox. .
I've played games on the GBA that had a more complex control system. There may be more moves but most are unnecessary.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Terrible voiceacting and awful writing. Even the foul language can't give it any street cred.
Play Value
If you were stuck with this game on a deserted island, the two-player mode would be the only redeeming feature. After that you could skip it across the waves for an extra bit or replay value.
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview by Vaughn Smith

Final Fight revolutionized the beat em up genre, easily setting itself apart from the cartoony albeit violent Double Dragon, by featuring realistic characters that more than doubled the size of previous sprite characters gamers had become accustomed to.

Elements of Capcom's street fighting coin gobbler can still be found in games today, which says a lot for their vision at the time. Genre staples includes waves of enemies all sporting their own health bars, usable environmental objects as weapons, health icons in the form of food like drinks, chicken etc, special combo moves - unfortunately many of these same game mechanics have been lifted and used so frequently in other games that the style has become "old hat".

Capcom is hoping to reclaim their king of the Beat Em Up castle crown, with Final Fight Streetwise. A rough and tumble homage to their original coin op, sporting more realistic characters and tons of street tough enemies waiting to bash your head in with a lead pipe. Sounds like a night out on the town for the Platinum Crew.

The visuals are certainly impressive with enough detail to fool the eye into thinking that this might be a next gen X360 title. That's just the beauty of programmers who really know a system and how to grasp every ounce out of it.

Stay tuned over the next while for more info.

System: X (shown), PS2
Dev: Capcom
Pub: Capcom
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best