So, aside from the higher resolutions and trio of shader effects, what else is there for PC owners who've waited so long for this game? The answer, unfortunately, is not much at all, aside from the usual Capcom benchmarking tool, and a range of GPU tweakables that inflict all manner of additional load on your graphics card with usually minor results. The effects here, as demonstrated in the 1080p versus video above, are fairly subtle but as a PC owner, you'll enjoy having them.
The championship mode and replay recorders from the console versions are in there, and the DLC is set to be mirrored too, but you'll still need to pay for it. So overall then, despite the wait, there's no real bonus love in terms of actual content for the PC audience - something of a shame.
What you do get is a fairly comprehensive range of controller support. Both PS3 and Xbox 360 SFIV controllers should work with this, and in fact, any kind of gamepad with a USB interface should function well, in theory at least. Those crazy interfaces that let you hook up old Megadrive six-button controllers to the PC are apparently supported too, and you can even map one player's commands to the keyboard for those people using ancient joypads or custom controllers that are mapped to the keys.
Multiplayer support is in there too, based on Games for Windows Live. Online performance is essentially a match for the Xbox 360 version from what I can tell, and the GfWL interface also means that there's another 1,000 gamerscore to glean. The Achievements appear to parallel exactly what's on the 360 version. Which effectively sums up the entirety of what we have here - everything that was in the 360 game with a bit of bonus graphical glitz. This is no crappy port, it's the best fighting game you can buy on PC.
And so, if this were a review, we would come to the final score. I can't help but feel that the original 10/10 was somewhat generous. There's no doubt that for me, this is the best one-on-one fighter of this generation, and the game is much more fun to play than Virtua Fighter 5 and Soul Calibur IV, but the fact is that those titles are literally the only worthwhile competition on the market, and both are really just graphical upgrades of PS2-era games.
Street Fighter IV is orders of magnitude more appealing than both of them, but underneath the graphical facelift, it's essentially just a smoother, more refined version of what we've played before. As it is, I'm still waiting for the next-gen gameplay to match the visuals. Every attack is a pre-baked animation - there's no smooth, flowing movement from technique to technique, and thus no real customisation in how you can fight. Strategy in these games is a case of matching predefined techniques and combos against another. Surely, 17 years after the debut of Street Fighter II, Capcom can do better than that?
The 3D visuals are superb, but they're still bound by the limitations of the hand-drawn sprites that made up the first one-on-one fighting game created decades ago. We have 3D characters here and developers should be able to simulate proper movement of the human body. From that base, developers should be able to make a game that matches the raw exhilaration of the best martial arts movies. It's an obvious evolution of the fighting game, but nobody's doing it.
As a current-generation "summary" of 17 years of the best of Street Fighter II onwards with some nice new tricks, wrapped up in some beautiful visuals, this game is an unmitigated triumph. Brilliant in multiplayer, with a thriving community I hope extends to this PC version, there's nothing to match it. But the reaction of everyone who hasn't grown up with the franchise that I've tried to recruit to the game has been more muted. They just don't get it. They just can't relate to the rules and gameplay mechanisms of a game in which a light slap from a teenage girl can halt the juggernaut-like rampage of a Russian behemoth wrestler.
In its day, Street Fighter II had the attention of a whole generation thanks to Capcom's game-changing approach to the genre. I'd like to think a return to that pioneering spirit could achieve the same thing today. In the meantime, I'll keep on playing and loving Street Fighter, even if the amount of people in my life that want to play the game with me continues to diminish.
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