Street Fighter IV Reader Review
It's been a long time since Street Fighter II, a lot of 'sequels' have followed. There wasn't a true sequel until Street Fighter III made its disappointing mark on the series' legacy. So what makes this fourth iteration any less of a flop?
Since it's probably the first thing anyone will notice, I thought I'd kick off with mention of the art style. The art style is exactly that, art and style. Unlike most games these days, its blatant disregard for photorealistic graphics - something it would pull off with overwhelming hilarity - is only doing it favours. The style is so very black and white, not in the sense that it lacks colour, but in the sense that everything is contrasted; the antithetical nature pervades it, perhaps perfectly plausible for a two player games that explodes in with the acronym 'VS'.
The graphics, remaining technically impressive throughout -- and symbolic too -- paint the way for the gameplay. Like other games in the Street Fighter series, this game is mindblowingly fun to play. Unlike other games in the Street Fighter series, it isn't just because of the complexity on display. The game manages to be surprisingly easy to pick-up and play, surprisingly fun, even without knowledge of every single combination of these alien buttons that doth cover my controller, and without the front that some games have.
Should you decided to dive into the game's practice mode, you'll find so many moves for your collection of characters. They're not too hard to pull off, but Street Fighter newcomers may have trouble figuring out what on Earth the symbols mean.
Once you enter into one of the game's many modes, such as Arcade and VS, or even online, you will be using these moves, if you wish to win. If you do not wish to win, then you lack the spirit needed for this game.
Arcade mode is probably my favourite mode. The itinerary differs with every fighter, and the slowly rising, if not bastard-lying difficulty settings allows for gameplay that ranges from ridiculously easy to pretty damn hard. Not hard enough though, I think.
Once you destroy all of your worthless opponents -- with dialogue that's inspirational, if not cliché - you'll reach a slightly more difficult fight, one against your rival. Your rival is a difficult fellow; he or she is usually several notches tougher than the drones you punched your way through before, but sometimes it doesn't feel all that different. These fights play second fiddle to the boss battle; and has there ever been a better fiddle to play second to?
Seth: shall his name ring through the halls of frustration for as long as time. Perhaps this game's biggest downfall is that this fight is so incredibly hard. The fight has several levels of ascending difficulty and, unless you started with one round fights, you'll find the delight of beating the first is crushed to oblivion when he destroys you in the second round.
Difficulty is an interesting concept. When faced with an overwhelming amount of it, you are presented with two options. The first option is to give up: this wins you nothing, nothing but relaxation and a vacation from overwhelming, unsurpassable frustration. The second option is the very reason why this boss battle is in fact well worth playing; you can stick it out. The moment when you finally win will be so orgasmic, so fun, that you shall be reeling with joy well into the ending anime cut-scenes. I should stress that you won't be hit with Seth's almighty power unless you play on Medium or above. He's just not that hard in the easy modes.
Gamespy seems to hate the idea that playing through the arcade mode of a fighting game umpteen times in order to unlock all of the characters is a bad thing. Although this comment doesn't relate to this game, this game does have that. It is actually really fun, and a really good way to learn the way of the Street Fighter; therefore I think it best that they did this. The unlockable characters are also a little bit harder to master, a hell of a lot more rewarding to have, and definitely suit their positions of attainability.
There are some new characters, I don't like one of them, and I think he's far too overpowered and perhaps one of the characters that clashes with my style more often than not. The others are also forgettable; but maybe they'll weave themselves into the fabric of the series with the release of the next sequel.
Over the course of playing the game, you should become well versed in the moves of at least one fighter, maybe two or, maybe if you're crazy, all of them. Soon enough very hard will look like a walk in the country park, perhaps some of the fighters along the way will conflict with your 'style', but you'll beat them. So you wish to take it up a level?
You can try out the Versus mode with your friend, locally. I have spent oh so many hours schooling my older brother - who is actually really good at the game. I find it oh so fun to play two-player with my siblings, or friends, much more fun than say... online.
The online is great, great if you're going to play with your real online friends. You can tell them off for spamming, shake from the tension of that fight you really didn't want to lose. You can become lost in the phrase 'one more round', pummelled by the guy you just beat into the ground. The fun is, almost, never-ending.
For me at least, playing against random players is a whole other story. There's nothing wrong with the net code, my connection or even the actual game itself. It has everything you get with friends, minus the friends. The problem is that the game is full of people that clearly spent forever and a day playing this game -- people I'm expected to fight against despite asking to be thrown in with other newcomers - and then they're the evil, evil move spammers.
You will be ground into the ground by these projectile vomiting oafs of the game. They shall enrage you, they may even force you to quit -- something I've avoided -- and they certainly never play fair. It's not impossible to find someone that's fun to play, someone that plays by the conduct of fighting games; but it's too much bother if you ask me.
Having owned the game since it came out, I have had a chance to test the time factor involved in the test of how good a fighting game is. At one point I got bored of it -- I was playing Ryu too much for sure - but my brother became a huge fan of it whilst I wished away the hours doing whatever I was doing.
My own addiction played out across my brother's face over the months that he slowly sunk into the complex fighting game. I knew I was better, so I took the floor for some fighting fun. What I found was a world of fun all over again. The second coming of Street Fighter IV helped me to love it more. I found that yes, it was almost perfectly balanced, has plenty of depth for the many characters, and is probably the most fun you can have, two-player, on the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360.
I found that the new gameplay additions, perhaps something I should have mentioned earlier: the ultra combos that are triggered by you taking lots of hits, are balanced out very well and are very brilliant to watch unfold. I almost forgot the mention a few things, perhaps because they're a given. The controls are pitch perfect, the sound is great, but the songs are not my style; and did I mention how fun it was?
Grab your controller, prepare to lose the skin on your left hand's thumb, and ready your eyes for an explosion of colour, damage and fun that justifiably kicks Street Fighter II from its fighting game throne -- making sure to shoryuken it as it tumbles back down.
9 / 10