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April 30, 2006
Final Fight Streetwise - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
275KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneNo

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Send him flying back...
Coming out in Australia almost a year since it's announcement at E3 2005, Final Fight Streetwise was a game we were very keen to play. The original arcade game is still one of our favorites of all time, and an updated title was one we were keen to get our hands on.

Taking place years after the original Final Fight titles Capcom have been very smart in incorporating this story into not only that universe, but also with Cody's appearance in Street Fighter Alpha 3 in which he is a convict. Since being release he is now managing his brother, Kyle who is an upcoming fighter doing the rounds of the fight clubs. Not long into the game a seedy organization kidnaps Cody for mysterious reasons. The metropolis is in a riotous turmoil as a mysterious street drug called GLOW spreads across the city. What’s happened to Cody and is he still alive? Can all this anarchy be stopped? It's your job as Kyle to rescue your brother.

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Increasing your respect.
The game is pretty interesting in that it isn't just a linear, staged based, beat 'em up as was the case with earlier arcade titles but you now have the opportunity to explore the city areas before entering places of interest including bars, porn shops, gyms, bottle shops, warehouses and so on. Many areas will see you needing to use your fists to survive, but there are areas, such as the gym and bottle shop, where you can buy items. As you fight and explore the streets you can pick up valuable items such as cash and jewelry which can then be spent on upgrading your characters moves, or buying items.

Fighting takes place from a third person perspective in a 3D free roaming environment. Kyle is equipped with light attacks, strong attacks, a guard, grabbing and an instinct mode which increases the power of your attacks. Kyle can perform combo and special moves which are, as previously mentioned, unlocked by spending money in the gym. As you smash your way through the various districts you also earn respect. The more people that like you in an area the less resistance you will face, and potentially the more information you can glean from NPC's. Unfortunately this system doesn't work well at all. Even if you have very low respect then the game doesn't really change, the mini-games are still available and the missions the same.

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Talking to a NPC.
As with the earlier Final Fight games weapons play a major part in the fighting. Sure, you can complete the game with your fists only but at times enemies will drop weapons including baseball bats, knives, steel pipes and handguns. They only last a limited time - for instance the handguns only hold six bullets, but they can be useful when outnumbered. In an interesting twist the developers have included a series of mini-games in Final Fight: Streetwise. As you explore the town you will encounter people that will give you the chance to play games such as darts, 3 card monte, bug squashing, or destroying a vehicle (in a nice homage to the car smashing mini-game in the original arcade title). I actually found most of these games quite entertaining and a nice diversion from the main game.

The one thing that really disappoints with this game is the cameras. Quite simply it's placed so close to the main character that it's impossible to see enemies surrounding him. Head around a corner and the camera often looks in the wrong direction giving enemies time to pump a few bullets into you. Another slight disappointment is the AI which, while not disastrous, typically only sees one or two enemies attack you at a time, even when surrounded by half a dozen or more.

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Introducing the characters.
While the developers have included the original Final Fight as an unlockable bonus I can't believe how poorly it has been ported. It isn't even up to the standards that Capcom release in the Capcom Classics Collection with a choppy frame rate in this version. What gives Capcom? Was it too hard to include the decently emulated version? Other unlockables in this game include music video clips.

Graphics are probably this games weakest aspect. While I really love the way the game introduces new characters, by creating a 'painted' look and giving some of Kyle's thoughts about them, the actual in-game graphics are bland to say the least. The criticism is virtually the same as in Capcom's equally graphically dull Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance. In short, the backgrounds are a dull series of drably textured buildings with little to distinguish them apart. Sure, the city is meant to be run down, but even the seediest parts of any major city have different visual styles, neon lights, or distinct features.

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One of the mini-games.
Audio in the game is generally quite good. The speech is quite corny, and certainly laced with plenty of profanities, but imparts the street thug style one would expect. Music is a wide mix of licensed tracks from Fear Factory to Slipknot and Dub Pistols to name a few. It's pretty heavy rock, and suits the game perfectly, but if you don't like the current track it can be changed with a simple press of the D-pad. The sounds effects include plenty of thumps and crashes but they're pretty generic overall. One very interesting thing to note is that besides Dolby Pro Logic II the game only includes mono sound, and nothing else. Not even Stereo. How bizarre.

I don't know why so many other reviewers have been so harsh on this title. This isn't the worst game on the PS2 - not even close - and while it's not one of Capcom's finest hours I actually enjoyed it more then I thought I would. It's a bit on the short side so for many a rental would be best, but if you're a Final Fight fan, of a fan of street brawling games, then Final Fight: Streetwise is well worth a look.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSCharacters look good, but the backgrounds are drab as can be.
SOUNDSome good music, plenty of swearing but rather dull effects.
GAMEPLAYGameplay evolves little, plenty of mini-games and 'non-mission' fights.
VALUEThe arcade mode is average, story mode isn't overly long either.
OVERALLFinal Fight Streetwise is an average game, but one which kept us entertained for the few hours it lasts. What is inexcusable is the poor emulation of the original game as a bonus, and the cameras which are simply horrible.

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