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[ Writer ] = Sol Sadguy
[ 08/23/06 ] = A Delayed Hyper Cancel - Final Fight: Streetwise

Unwise to hate Streetwise; that's the best way to sum it all up. The Final Fight franchise from Capcom has always been noted for brutal difficulty, excellent (if a bit quirky) character design, and superb gameplay. Streetwise is absolutely no exception, and I think myself and a choice few other people (who don't have their collective heads so far up their asses that sunlight is a complete myth to them) are the only people who can see this. BAD GRAPHICS? BORING GAMEPLAY? STUPID SOUNDTRACK? TOO MUCH PROFANITY?

The ball drops here. Is this game Renderware? No - it looks fresh and original, and GRITTY, like an urban atmosphere is supposed to. The soundtrack? Not my favorite, by any means, but goddamnit, it FITS. It makes sense. Defining moment? Beating the shit out of goons who toss grenades at you, with brilliant, punishing explosions punctuating the violence, with Slipknot's "Pulse of the Maggots" playing as a soundtrack to the bloody carnage. And as for the cussing? The profanity? The OH-SO-VERY-BAD-WORDS-YOU-NEVER-SAY-EVER?! Why is it that games taking a grittier edge (seems to be the current trend) are lauded for the "realistic language", all except this one? The speech is crisp, flows nicely, and isn't stilted at all. It all sounds perfectly natural and people don't say things that make no sense. All the god-destroying profanity in this game sounds like something someone WOULD say if they'd just been brutalized by a baseball bat, or were under that spell of adrenaline that only comes when you want to break someone's face.

Bad graphics? C'mon, people - this game looks excellent, even in a dingy urban setting. The character models are all animated gorgeously, and the hit effects are definitely up to Capcom standards. As for all the buildings looking the same, what more do you backwards chucklefucks want? Purple high rises with light trails every time the camera moves 2 inches? Buildings that uproot themselves and transform into combat ready states as bosses? Blue dodecahedron huts that explode into trails of colors that even the most rave-crazed exstacy heads haven't seen yet? THIS IS AN URBAN FUCKING SETTING, PEOPLE. THEY USE BRICKS AND STEEL TO MAKE BUILDINGS. When you get to Japantown, brilliant neons flare up the horizon with promises of interiors that are as well designed as the outsides. Later in the game there is an area that is absolutely obliterated; brilliant tongues of flame crawl up the sides of dwellings and businesses, every solitary brick is rendered pixel-by-pixel to look like what used to be a part of someone's place of residence. Sometimes I get the feeling that half the population of "gamx0rz" and I didn't play the same game.
The gameplay. Fun. Amazing. Giggle-fit inducing. Just because some uneducated asshole working for a magazine kept using the same goddamned combo to get through the game doesn't mean shit. Can you beat Devil May Cry with the Alastor as your only weapon? Certainly - but it won't be as entertaining as using all the tools at your disposal. The same formula applies here, and in spades. A wonderful counter system, a huge list of combos, and weapon combat on top of more ways to kill a man than you could shake a broken bat handle at. Two-player mode? INSANELY FUN, in addition to being insanely difficult. The side missions are all welcome breaks to the story (especially the rat-stomp level) and are a great way to earn extra cash. Want some more cash? Hit the arenas for some awesome one-on-ones that feel like a really solid 3-D fighter.

I have a small theory as to why the game is getting reviewed so negatively. Several, actually, but my main thought is that Kyle is a hero. An honest to god HERO. What kind of bullshit have we, as fans, been subjected to from the mainstream market? The anti-hero. The villain. Play as the other side for a change, and murder, steal, and lie your way to victory. Revel in the downfall of another man, and fight for nothing more than your own petty ambition. There is no greater good; only your own greed. Finally, a return to the time when Joe-Nobody ends up saving the world, and no one gives a fuck. No, we'd rather subject our youth to gangsters and rappers who give nothing positive back to the community. We'd rather have the image of a defiant, social atom who cares for nothing beyond his own petty desires, giving no thought to the others around him.

OK, enough of that. Back to why you should feel ashamed for falling in with the bullshit. Kinda like Church, isn't it? In all, this game is not perfect. I'm not blind - I saw the clipping error when Haggar went to do his pile driver and the guy was like 2 feet out of the animation. Yeah, they made Guy sound very stereotypically Asian. I can be perfectly honest. Minor gripes are all I can muster against this game. But what game is completely without fault? What game IS perfect? If you just said Halo, go plug in the toaster and take a bath with it. NO GAME is picture perfect. But for beat 'em ups, Final Fight: Streetwise is the end-all, say-all homage to not only its parent games, but to the entire genre as well. Go buy this game ASAP. If you don't, then just spend that money on getting a subscription to Game Informer, if you haven't already, you low-class Mortal Kombat fan.