Final Fight: Streetwise Preview
All of the old school Final Fight brawling you remember is here. Kyle, the main charachter, can perform light and strong attacks, grab onto and throw enemies, and even pick up objects in the environment to use as weapons. There are thugs everywhere, and, as you can imagine, they sometimes approach Kyle in groups just begging for a beat down.
This game throws in a modern GTA-style twist, however. The world of Metro City is now a lively, large environment full of streets and neighborhoods that Kyle can walk around in and explore. You can go into businesses, talk to people on the street, and interact with objects in the environment. Many of the people you talk to have problems they need solved--if you accept and fulfill their missions, you'll earn money to spend on upgrades and items. Missions range from easy things, like getting a purse back from some thugs or finding a bat for some unarmed thug, to tougher challenges, like unseating a local gang leader or taking on and wiping out an entire gang in a crowded alley.
There is also an underlying story and main mission arc to go through as well. The demo here at E3 had four available chapters--a jailhouse fight, a bar fight, a boss fight, and a crazy street battle. The story centers around a man named Kyle, who happens to be the younger brother of Cody from the original Final Fight series. Cody gets kidnapped, and in the process of rescuing him, Kyle learns that a criminal mastermind plans to use Metro City as the guinea pig for a series of hideous genetic experiments. Soon after, Kyle's girlfriend gets kidnapped... thrusting Kyle head-first into the fight. Familiar characters from past Final Fight games appear as in-game characters and bosses. Meanwhile, Cody helps out by providing information and by appearing once in a while to move the story along.
The street battle level had dozens of enemies, many of which were mutated beyond recognition. The boss fight level in the demo was the most interesting, however, because it gave us an idea of what to expect when the game is completed. Each boss will have different attacks and weapons, and won't be as easy to fight as the generic thugs hanging out on the streets. In the E3 level, the boss was driving around in an armored forklift trying to run Kyle over. The tactic to beating him was to jump out of the way and kick him in the back when he ran into the walls.
The fighting is intense. Players can make Kyle perform light and strong attacks by pressing the X and square buttons, and perform combos by pressing different chains of those two buttons. By holding down the L2 button, players can activate what is called Instinct Mode. Basically, this is a cool phrase for what's essentially twice the damage and a slo-mo style camera effect. It works, though. You can press circle to grab an opponent, and then knee him with an attack or throw him by pressing circle again. Once an enemy is on the ground, you can kick him while he's down by pressing one of the attack buttons. Fallen enemies sometimes drop money or health items.
Weapons seem to be an integral facet of gameplay. Kyle can pick up and use all kinds of things, from the newspaper boxes and trash cans situated on the sidewalk, to the bats, knives, and guns that enemies drop. Each weapon has a limited number of uses or bullets. Not a problem really, since useful weapon-like items are everywhere. We're talking guns, grenades, Molotovs, wooden planks, pool cues, knives, boxes, brass knuckles, and many many more.
Much like Grand Theft Auto, you'll be able to attack pedestrians too. In the demo, we were able to beat up on innocent pedestrians, vagrants, and thugs with no real consequence. Obviously, gang members will call in their buddies... but that's just more skulls to crack, right?
Visually, the game looks good -- not spectacular, but about what you'd expect from a 3D beat 'em up with such a large 3D world. The streets and buildings looked sharp. Metro City has all the lustre of a run-down Chicagoland neighborhood. The buildings are concrete and wood, and covered in graffiti. Certain things, like cars, don't have enough polys, so they look like old Saturn or Dreamcast quality objects. On the other hand, the flame and bullet effects look sleek (transparency is used to full effect in this game). Those of you that have played State of Emergency or the Grand Theft Auto foot missions have some idea of what to expect. That's really all that can be said about the visuals for now, since the game isn't even 40% complete yet.
Final Fight: Streetwise is due out this winter.
5/19/2005 Frank Provo