Platform: PlayStation 4
Review Date: 10/3/22
Claire Sparks receives a call from an evil crime syndicate saying that her sister has been kidnapped. No reason for the kidnapping is given, and it's just an excuse to hit the streets and beat up everyone in sight while attempting to rescue her. I'm a huge "Streets Of Rage" fan, so the retro-styled "Final Vendetta" was a no-brainer for me. Unfortunately, it embraces old-school conventions just a little too tightly, and leans more towards rip-off than homage. It's also closer to "Final Fight" than "Streets Of Rage," which isn't to my liking.
For anyone who has played SOR, the controls are immediately familiar, except for the special attack. For some reason, the control configuration says that the triangle button is the special attack, but it's not. That's the button for kicking a downed opponent. The special attack is a secret combo of X and Square, which you have to discover on your own. There are a couple other button combos for a reverse attack and a directional special, but therein lies another problem. The game only uses the four face buttons and won't let you assign the triggers or bumpers to anything, which enforces one of many artificial difficulties. The game's "easy" and "hard" settings differ only in the number of lives that you're given and there are no continues, which means you only get one shot at making it to the end. Adhering to old-school arcade mentality, you can't save or continue your game, and there's no level select option. You get one quarter and you'd better make the best of it!
All of this would be okay if the game was fun to play, but sadly it's not. The controls are a little loose and the movement is chunkier than it should be (which is probably another nod to its roots). The character sprites are large and the graphics are serviceable, but they're not particularly attractive and they don't reflect the bold colors and aesthetic of the 1990's dystopia that the game is trying to revisit. It has more of a grungy 70's vibe, and again looks more like "Final Fight" than SOR. The characters don't have much personality, and Claire is a poor substitute for Blaze Fielding. The soundtrack is also disappointing, and while Utah Saints makes a noble attempt to recreate Yuzo Koshiro's magic, the end result sounds more like the hip-hop beats of "Street Fighter III" than anything else.
I clearly hold the game to an unrealistically high standard, and found the overall package to be underwhelming. With a few tweaks, it could have been a fun beat 'em up and a nice slice of retro nostalgia, but it takes the vintage aspect a little too seriously and focuses on all of the drawbacks and limitations from the past rather than celebrating the style and spirit of the era. Sadly, it only managed to hold my interest for a couple of hours before I decided it wasn't worth the effort.