Review by sfcalimari

"Don't believe the (negative) hype"

So, as you may have heard, Final Fight Streetwise is one of the more widely panned games ever. "Terrible," "boring," "garbage" is what the reviewers think of this game. However, after I played this game, it became pretty obvious that this is yet another instance of professional reviewers completely underrating a fun and solid game that deserved better treatment. Streetwise is fun, intense, and interesting, and though a bit short, it's definitely worthy of a rent.

Gameplay

True to its Final Fight roots, Streetwise is a beat-em-up. Previous Final Fight games were two-dimensional arcade-style romps, but Streetwise takes this beat-em-up format and transfers it to a more modern three-dimensional format, with a third-person view of your character. You run around, you punch, you kick. The fighting system is very well done and satisfying, and just running around fighting enemies and connecting with combos is always fun. It truly is a logical evolution from the mindless brawling of the original Final Fight games.

I will note that there are a few instances in the game where you can use guns, such as a pistol or a shotgun. There aren't many times you get these weapons, and they are useful in the instances you have them, but I do think that they don't really have a place in a Final Fight game.

What is different about this game from previous Final Fight games is that it is somewhat free-roaming. You are Kyle, Cody Travers' brother, and you roam around the streets of Metro City, going to certain locations to advance the plot, or you can simply wander around completing side objectives. It really is somewhat like GTA without the cars, but unlike GTA, you actually have a good hand-to-hand combat system to attack enemies with. The different areas of Metro City (4 in all) are rather a bit small, and could have been bigger, but it is pretty nice to not be forced down a linear path like in most beat-em-ups.

To advance the plot you go meet certain people or go to certain locations (you are always told where to go, so you don't have to wander around confused), and usually this results in a mission you have to complete, like rescuing someone or fighting your way through a certain building. Some of these missions are outside, while others are inside. The inside missions go smoothly although there are occasional camera issues. Then there are a few parts of the plot like "squash the roaches," which many reviewers have moaned about, but this sort of mini-game is over quickly and it's kind of worth it to hear the goofy music that accompanies this mini-game.

Besides the main story missions, there are also several optional side objectives you can complete, such as entering pit fights or retrieving someone's purse, and so on. These objectives add little to the game, and there doesn't seem to be any point in completing them besides getting a tiny bit of extra cash. There really should be more incentive to complete them.

While your main set of attack moves is quite powerful and effective, you can go to gyms and purchase special moves. Some of these moves are quite useful, but many are quite difficult to pull off and often don't seem to be very useful. Another thing that could have been worked on.

One last thing that annoyed me was when I am running around the city streets, random pedestrians keep running up to me and standing next to me. I'm sorry, but that is just weird.

So overall the game is quite well done. The missions are fun, the boss fights are (usually) intense, and it's quite a lot of fun just to get into fights with enemies. Unfortunately, as with most ps2 action games, Streetwise isn't really very long.

Graphics

The graphics are not spectacular, but they are far from terrible. The different parts of the city you run around look crisp and atmospheric. Character design is pretty decent. The frequent cut-scenes look quite decent and are done pretty well. Overall the graphics are quite good and help lend a lot of atmosphere to the game. They get the job done.

Controls

The controls in this game are for the most part quite smooth, and it is pretty easy to pick up the fighting and combo system. You have a weak punch and a strong punch, and you can mix up these two to use certain combos that do more damage. Many reviewers have complained about the camera, but I never found it to be much of a problem, and found it to be better than the camera in many other third-person view games. You can control it by swiveling it to the right or left, and it is generally pretty responsive.

One thing that annoyed me is that as you are running around, often Kyle will make a weird "stutter" step in the middle of running, causing you to not move as quickly as you should. Strikes me as something that should have been ironed out.

Story

You are Kyle Travers, the younger brother of Cody Travers (of Final Fight), and, well, let's just say you get into a lot of trouble. I won't really go into the plot, but if you ask me the story is pretty well done. The cut-scenes are quite well done and some of the characters' dialogue is pretty humorous and sharp. Also it is good to see Haggar and Guy make well-done cameo appearances. Thanks for the fan service Capcom! The story does kind of veer into silly territory about 2/3rds of the way through the game, which is unfortunate, but by and large the different characters you meet are pretty interesting, and the story is done better than many other games.

Music

Well, you are probably going to either hate or like the music for this game. The music for this game is of two types: hip-hop and crunchy death metal like Opeth and Slipknot. Kind of a weird pairing. I hate metal, especially the kind in this game, so I avoided the metal songs, but I enjoyed a lot of the hip-hop songs in the game. During gameplay you can choose what song to have playing from the start menu--it has a kind of jukebox menu. So it is kind of like GTA except you listen to music on foot rather than in a car. You start the game with a few tracks, but can go into music stores to purchase other songs. I can't really decide if this is lame or not.

Overall

Overall this game is quite well done, fun to play, and definitely not deserving of the hating rained on it by most professional critics. It is a bit too short and ends just as it seems to be getting warmed up, so it is really much more worth a rent than a buy.

Unfortunately due to the widespread panning of this game, it might be the final Final Fight game. I'm glad I gave this game a chance, and you probably would be too.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/26/06


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