This remake of the arcade classic is about as streetwise as a politician in a baseball cap. And not a Roc-a-wear one either, but an elasticated cap he got free when he filled up with a full tank of petrol. "Yo kids! Vote for me, I listen to Slim Shifty and Dr. Ray!"
It's nothing more than a simple beat-'em-up, where our hero Kyle shuffles around the four districts of Metro City to find his kidnapped brother Cody and bring down an evil drug dealer. Fighting is basic with a series of punches and throws that can be strung together, while baseball bats, guns and knives can be picked up for that extra little sting to the ribs. There's also quite a few 'features' that aren't listed on the back of the box: Ropey Cam, old-gen graphics, an entire free-roaming cul-de-sac and a cheap-ass soundtrack.
The fighting system works but it's completely soulless and lacking any dynamism. Hold the left trigger to drain the Instinct meter, which boosts attacks enabling Kyle's limited fist animations to move faster and cause more damage. There's on-screen encouragement like in Devil May Cry, as punches and combos are met with 'Decent!', 'Bring It!', and our favourite, 'Bangin'!' They may as well read 'Cripes!', 'Blinking Flip!' and 'Lordy!' for all the good it does.
New moves can be bought with cash, but so long as you power up your health and Instinct on a regular basis, there's really no need. Money's better spent buying replenishments from the local corner shop, and this is the only part the game gets right, realistically noting that beer, crisps and whisky boosts a man's energy and life skills.
As well as cash, Kyle gains Respect by completing side quests, like saving a ho's kid brother from a life of crime. When we say 'saving from a life of crime', we mean pummelling some gang members' faces down to their arses. It's the same for retrieving stolen items and any other tasks you decide to help out with. Just slap the taste from some punk's mouth and earn some respect, dude. You'll lose Respect for punching drunks and other innocents, but it's not really clear what having a high rating does anyway, aside from alternate on-screen reactions from NPCs.
Mini-games litter the experience like a wheelie bin has been kicked across the gameplay. You can gamble with a card shark for ten dollars but you'll just as easily find twenty dollars lying on the street. Mini-games crop up in boss fights too, where you have to repeatedly mash buttons to slam an enemy's head into a door. You can also enjoy the thrills of stomping on fifty-odd cockroaches or putting out flames with a fire extinguisher that doesn't work, while a cruel time limit ticks down to your moment of doom.
The camera is awful, and the smaller the location you find yourself shuffling around, the worse it gets. We particularly like the way it zooms in so close you end up punching people off-screen. Not that there's anything worth looking at, unless you're interested in discovering how many shades of grey and brown there are in the world. Final Fight: Streetwise is so cold and dull-looking it makes Nuneaton on a cold March evening seem joyous. With non-existent textures and signs that are so blurred you can't read them, you'd get lost if it wasn't for the big green arrows pointing the way. It would like to claim it's a free-roaming game, but when you can only wander down five or six different streets and into a couple of buildings, it's like saying a racing game has a free-roaming circuit because you can go in the pits.
There isn't even in-game dialogue outside of the cut-scenes and repetitive voice samples. You have to READ words on the screen (remember that?), and what dialogue there is is laughable. Along with the random swearing to, you know, make it look hard in front of the bigger kids, there's the kind of language you've not heard since the mid '80s. Since when have nasty, aggressive, knife-wielding thugs gone around calling people 'twerps'? Call me that again, and I'll tell my mummy. It would like to be gritty and edgy like Fight Club, but it's not even The Breakfast Club. It's more like S Club 7, and that's being a little harsh on Bradley and friends.
You have to question Capcom's judgement when releasing something this sub-standard and it's perfectly acceptable to take a cynical stance. Just consider the gorgeous and stunning packages of Resident Evil, Maximo, Devil May Cry or Killer 7. How are we supposed to accept this unpleasant lump of gristle in comparison? Capcom is one of the few publishers that commands a loyal following who will willingly take a chance on the blue and yellow logo. Final Fight: Streetwise is pure exploitation of that fanboy mentality. And if you're a retro-head looking for the original Final Fight, just buy the Capcom Classics Collection from last year.
Final Fight Streetwise is a remake no-one asked for, to be filed next to Sega's Altered Beast or Midway's NARC as completely pointless retreads. Fair enough, it's not completely broken and you can play through it, but you could go outside and 'play' with a crisp bag and pair of tramps shoes if you wanted to. As a modern brawler, Final Fight: Streetwise is worthless.