Street Fighter IV Reader Review
I first played Street Fighter II back in 1992 on the SNES. I didn�t know a great deal about the game at the time, but my older brother was a big fan and had been bleating on about it for months leading up to Christmas that year. So come December 25 1992, I got my first taste of Street Fighter and I didn�t have a clue what I was doing. I knew none of the characters or any of their special moves, but that didn�t matter, I liked it, even if my brother did win all the time.
I stuck with the game and still remember the first time I heard the tinny cry of "Shoryuken" come from the TV�s mono speaker after I�d performed the dpad motion and hit the punch button. I was very pleased with myself and couldn�t wait to inform my brother that I too could now do the legendary Dragon Punch!
As the years went by I became a massive fan of the series, buying practically every Street Fighter title released for a console that I owned. But what I really wanted was Street Fighter IV. As the years rolled by with no mention of a new title, it seemed the series was dead and that Capcom were quite happy to just throw out the occasional rehash or cross over title utilising old sprits from previous games in the series. Then in October of 2007 the game I never thought would be made was announced. Street Fighter IV was in development.
I first got to play Street Fighter IV in Japan while on holiday at the back end of 2008, and my first impression was that it was amazing. It looked fantastic; the animation was fluid. The new focus attacks seemed interesting (performed by pressing both medium attack buttons at the same time.) but I wasn�t used to them so only used them occasionally when I remembered they existed. Even the fact that the parry system had been dropped from Street Fighter III didn�t bother me as I thought it would. So having had a taste of what SFIV had to offer it was just a case of waiting 4 months for the home console release.
February 20th has come and gone and Street Fighter IV has been released into the wild. Regardless of the system you buy the game for you get an arcade perfect conversion that runs at a constant 60fps. The home console version comes with all the characters that were present in the arcade version plus a few extras. Rose, Dan, Sakura and Gen join the roster from the Alpha series along with Cammy and Fei Long from the Super versions of the original Street Fighter II. The final characters in the roster are Seth, the games end boss and Gouken, who was a secret boss encounter in the arcade version but wasn�t a selectable character. However none of these characters are selectable from the off, they must be unlocked by fulfilling certain criteria while playing through the main arcade mode. While not difficult to unlock the fact that you can�t jump straight into the online section of the title and pick any character you want will be an annoyance to some, but on the other hand it gives the title some longevity to players who don�t care about fighting other people online and have bought the title purely for it�s offline content. There�s also the standard practice and 2 player local battle options as you�d expect from a modern day fighting game for people not planning to take the title online.
Other new features added for the home version include Time Trial, Survival and Trial Mode. All three have both a normal and hard version. Time trial asks you to defeat a set number of opponents within a certain time limit with extra time awarded for defeating an opponent and bonus time awarded for connecting with a super or ultra combo among other things. Survival mode is, as you�d expect about beating up a set number of opponents without running out of energy. The trial mode however is more of a tutorial mode. Broken up into 5 levels, each one being progressively more advanced than the previous one. Level 1 teaches basic punches, kicks and throws, level 2 covers special moves. With levels 3 onwards teaching basic combo�s and links. The hard trials cover even more advanced techniques, which only the real hardcore of Street Fighter players are going to bother mastering. While most of these combos are possible to execute on a standard controller, some are such a pain to pull off that if you really want to be able to use them in an actual fight then your going to need an arcade stick.
Which leads me onto one of the small gripes I have with Street Fighter IV. The input windows for special moves are very generous, so that moves can be easily executed with a controller. However I find them a little too generous and at times the game will take the slightest movement of the dpad and turn it into something you didn�t actually want to do. Trying to execute a 2 in 1 can result in super moves being executed when you didn�t actually want to do one. Which is even more insulting when you�re combo has been blocked and you�re forced to look on as the game decides you wanted to do a super cancel and you have no choice but to sit and watch your hard earned super meter wasted.
The fact that it�s very easy to execute most special moves and ultra combo�s does open the game up to newcomers and people returning to the series, some of who might not have played a Street Fighter game since the early 90�s, allowing you to get stuck in and perform something a little more impressive than just basic kicks and punches. If you�re returning to the series or have played the recently released Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix then most combos you used or have learnt will still work in Street Fighter IV.
Other nice features added to the game include a slew of �Titles� and �Icons� to unlock allowing you to personalise your online ID and show the world your preferred fighting style or which character you�re likely to pick. Either way there�s plenty to choose from and unlock, adding a PoKeMoN style �Gotta catch �em all� element to the game. There are also alternate colours and personnel actions (taunts) to unlock for characters as well.
The longevity of the game however will come down to the online side of things, pitching yourself against another person is the only real way to see how good or bad you really are. So far the only online mode is 1v1 matches in either player or ranked flavours, with the promise of a tournament mode being added sometime after launch via a patch. Player matches allow you to create or join a lobby and fight as many matches as you like against the same opponent until one of you leaves. Ranked matches however are one off fights with battle points being awarded or taken away at the conclusion of the battle. The greater the difference in BP between the fighters dictates how much will be won or lost. BP was used in the arcade version to unlock alternate outfits for characters but here it�s purely to compare yourself against other online opponents or friends. Another nice feature added to the game is the inclusion of a fight request system. This allows you to play through arcade mode against the computer while advertising your game to other players, allowing them to interrupt and challenge you as would happen in a real arcade environment. After the fight you can choose to return to arcade mode or quit to the main menu. Fight request can be set to either player matches or ranked matches depending on your preference, or switched off completely.
Online matches can also be searched for using certain criteria such as language, higher skill level or connection quality. The title displays a connection quality before you choose an opponent ranging from no bars all the way to 5. I had no problems against people with 3 bars and upward but anything below that and things are a bit too laggy for a decent match.
Overall Street Fighter IV is an excellent game. If you�ve been playing 2D fighting game for years then you�ll love it, if you have a passing fancy for the occasional bout of virtual fisty cuffs there�s plenty of depth and balance to keep things interesting and if you�re not really a fan of fighting games then there�s nothing here that�s going to chance your mind. But for those of us who have been waiting for a new Street Fighter game for years it�s an essential purchase and will keep you playing for years to come.
10 / 10