Despite kicking ass as one of the most classic, side-scrolling, "punch 100 dudes in the head, eat the food you find in the broken crate, repeat" beat 'em-ups ever, the Final Fight franchise has taken more black eyes than all of Metro City’s thugs put together. Home console ports with missing features, half-assed sequels, downright ugly forays into the one-on-one fighting genre (see the Japan-only Final Fight Revenge on Sega’s Saturn) - the series has been through it all. And now Capcom continues the pummeling with the disappointing Final Fight: Streetwise.
In Streetwise, you play as original hero Cody’s younger brother Kyle in a fully 3D brawler where every surface looks like it came from a game for the PSone. Seriously, the "hood" isn’t supposed to be a pretty place, but it’s probably not supposed to look this ugly, either.
Not that you’ll be able to see what’s happening most of the time, as the camera struggles to keep up with the action even in wide-open areas. Get Kyle into a fight in a hallway or small room, and you’re basically just mashing the buttons and praying you connect with your enemies.
The fighting system isn’t all that bad, though. It can be really difficult to actually hit your target, but the simple, three-button attack combos get progressively more intricate and useful as you move through the game. In that respect, at least, it really captures the feel of the original arcade title.
One more thing: the swearing. Normally we don't mind, but the script for Streetwise sounds like it was written by a grade-schooler who'd just discovered cursing. Obscene language is overused to the point where the effect isn't gritty at all. In fact, it's just laughable.
The thinking behind Streetwise is solid: transplant the classic beat-em-up gameplay into the free-roaming, 3D worlds that the gamers of today crave. It’s just too bad it was done so poorly.