What if Dead Rising looked terrible, had no self-awareness, and was set exclusively in the Final Fight universe?
That, oddly enough, is kind of how I feel about this game. It reminds me a lot of Dead Rising. Dead Rising would be described as a brawler if not for the focus shifting away from fist fighting and a limited array of gang-style weapons to a much more plentiful and ridiculous selection of weapons. As Brad Shoemaker has tried to explain in a few instances, there is this weird, patronizing tone to the Dead Rising series. It can get away with that because the first game had this half goofy and half self-serious tone that existed in pretty much all of Capcom's Japanese developed games during the PS2 era. The sequels, while developed in Vancouver, were emulating that tone sincerely and with self-awareness. Final Fight: Streetwise was not developed in Japan. It feels self serious, but not as if it were written by a Japanese person trying to create an American-style story. Only from the mind of the worst, most juvenile 15 year old that could possible exist in the mid-2000's.
You go into a porn shop in this game. When you go in, you find the owner (nicknamed "The Weasel") receiving oral sex. Behind him are tapes labeled Blue Balls. That's how funny this game dares to be. It's that fucking edgy.
Travel back in time to 2006, when an American studio decided that the original Final Fight was missing a grossly unfunny sense of humor and bad, forced open world mechanics. Oh, and Slipknot.
The thrill you get when you run up to a crowd of thugs and dispatch them with a sense of style and mastery still exists within this game. That is this game's one redeeming quality. The one good. Not as Jeff's Gamespot review put it, "features Mike Haggar". Because it is embarrassing to think that this game is supposed to be set in the same universe as the original (3) Final Fight(s). Mike Haggar's - as well as Guy's and Cody's - presence is a crushing reminder that Capcom offically allowed this game to masquerade as a Final Fight game. Even though this is the first time (outside the Sega CD port) that these characters have been given voice-over, it feels as though the little scraps of story these characters have been given in the Final Fight and Street Fighter games have been completely betrayed. The redesigns Cody and Guy received in Street Fighter Alpha are further redesigned to be fit this games 2006 sense of "gritty", which was corny upon release and even more lame now looking back.
If you're a hardcore devotee of the Final Fight series, or street brawlers in general, you'll probably have some urge to try this game despite all of the negative reviews it received. The combat is decent, but hampered by the terrible camera. You may get something out of that, as I did. But everything else about this game will make you feel like a shitty person through osmosis. It's probably not worth it.