Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom / Dimps
Number of Players: 1-2
US: February 17, 2009
I donít know how many versions of Street Fighter have been out in the last decade, but we are now presented with number IV of the series. Since I havenít really played the other games extensively youíll have to realize that this review approach wonít be coming from a hardcore fan. With that out of the way Iím excited to say that with all the different Street Fighter games out there the series still proves to be doing something right as SFIV is one of the better fighting games Iíve played in a while.
When I played SFII not too long ago on the Xbox Live Arcade I got to learn some of the popular characters. Street Fighter IV has added to this list of characters extensively as there are now 25 playable characters in the game, none of which are exact repeats. Thatís right, youíll be able to choose from a wide variety of characters to keep the game fresh and adapt to your play style. But thatís not all that is new, SFIV adds several new game play elements that we will dig into, all of which in my opinion make the game more deep and rewarding.
Ryu is back and more badass
Street Fighter is a game focused on one-on-one combat, with little chance of luck playing out a personís battles. In a game like Dead or Alive there are dangers in stages which players can take advantage of in battle. Dangers such as these make it extremely easy for a player to get lucky during a heated battle - like a car miraculously hitting your opponent when heís about to finish you off. Youíll have no such luck in Street Fighter IV; this game is based off raw physical skill and wit. You wonít find yourself winning many battles without fully understanding your skills and your opponents. This is one of the best aspects of Street Fighter, when you beat someone, it wonít be out of luck.
Now if youíre new to the series like me donít get deterred from this game because you think you wonít be able to handle seasoned veterans. One of the greatest things about this game is how approachable it is. I played a couple games with my friend who had never really played Street Fighter in his life and he was getting the hang on the game in no time. If you consider yourself a patient gamer youíll learn your way around quickly, and if you donít youíll find yourself K.O.íd more than youíd like.
Taking a deeper look into combat youíll find several additions to the series, each carefully thought out making the game more robust. The Focus system allows a player to charge up an attack that will knock an opponent down if it connects (even if he is blocking). While you wonít find many newbieís using this technique to win those who dig deeper into the system will be the ones on top. When you are charging your focus attack you will suck up one of the opponents strikes uninterrupted, so if you play your cards right you will stun him even though he struck you. Your health will recharge as you follow up attack him. Thatís all well and good, but is this system fun to use? Well in my opinion and use on the battlefield focus attacks has been one of the most exhilarating ways to win. Itís great when you and your opponent are at the end of your health bar and the next few hits will end it and he comes at you while youíre powering your focus and you smash him right in his face. Feels great! And no, itís not hard to counter a focus attack, so they must be used carefully.
More new additions include the super EX bar and ultra combo. While you are smashing your opponent around your super meter charges. You can either let it fully charge and pull off your super combo which will do extensive damage and a cool animation, or perform EX attacks. EX attacks are special moves extended. Letís say for instance you are Ryu and you want to do a Hadoken, instead of performing a normal quarter circle punch, you would add a punch to the mix so youíd end up doing quarter circle P+P. Once you get the hang of it, youíll be doing EX moves in no time. EX really enhances your special moves so itís important to learn them right away. Since they suck up your super bar strategy will come into play on the battlefield. You have to keep constant attention to your meter(s) otherwise you may find yourself in a sticky situation. The Ultra meter is much like the super meter except it charges when you get hit, so if youíre getting beaten up bad you have a chance to recover by pulling off your ultra move. The ultra move is much like a super but instead itís a more cinematic and devastating.
These all new systems can be enjoyed on a large amount of levels. Youíll want to learn these combos as soon as possible as they will play a big part in winning, but thats not to say a player in battle will only focus on charging his meters. Iíve played many battles where the player doesnít use the Ultra or Super combo at all. Weather it was his plan or heís too bad to pull them off he still ending up winning, so they arenít so going to be your entire focus during battle. Like I said they play an important role and you wonít find yourself winning every battle with them, but itís defiantly important to understand how they work and how to use them.
These systems in no way make the game unbalanced or cheap. They are extremely fun and rewarding to use and allow for deeper combat. Thatís one thing that always bugged me about Street Fighter II. When I played it I felt that characters didnít have a wide variety of attacks. The whole combat system seemed a bit small, and lacked the depth I wanted. Now with the addition of these meters and focus attacks the game seems completely different to me. The attacks not only look awesome, but feel awesome while youíre performing them. Normal Hadokens are cool, imagine them with more umpf. While for some it wonít seem like a major addition but they add so much more strategy to the fight that itís impossible to get through the single player without using them.
Street Fighter focuses on One-on-One battles off pure skill
Players can expand on these new systems as well, because each of these elements contain a variety of depth. You need to know exactly when to pull the comboís off and when to properly use which attack. There is a tremendous amount to consider and balance while playing, but itís not necessarily hard to learn. Street Fighter IV gives you the option to train in training mode, or go into trial in Challenge mode. Both of these options make learning your way around Street Fighter IV more enjoyable. The combos that seemed hard will eventually get easy over constant practice and trial.
I think that Challenge mode is a great addition to SF. There are three different challenges Ė Survival, Time Attack, and Trial. Each mode will provide an extensive amount of playtime and enjoyment. Iíd be lying if I said they were easy, but they are extremely rewarding and allow for bragging rights once beaten. As always arcade mode is back, and still ridiculously hard. There are eight different difficulties in the game, and only 2 of those difficulties most will find playable without using continues. I think arcade mode could use some work. While playing through it I get bored if Iím playing on easy, or I get angry when Iím playing on medium or above. It seems like more of a chore to play through arcade mode than anything else.
Youíll be forced to play through arcade mode as well since you do not start off with all the characters. Youíll have to unlock characters through the arcade mode which as I said is a pain. If you want to start playing multiplayer right away with your favourite character you wonít have the option for that as you may not have your favourite character. Unlocking some of the higher tier characters youíll find yourself getting extremely bored. Iím not going to lie; I havenít unlocked Seth yet soly because I do not want to play through the arcade mode anymore. Itís just boring.
Seth is more annoying than he looks
When you pick your character in arcade mode and begin they present the story through a short anime sequence. These are probably the most pointless scenes I have watched. They can be skipped, but if youíre trying to make sense of why they are there you wonít have a great answer. They arenít enjoyable and will probably annoy some. After watching a few for some characters I ended up skipping the rest for others. If I missed something important I donít care because capcom did a poor job of making me actually care what is going on with each character.
SFIV adds 4 new characters (all playable right from the beginning) Ė Abel, Crimson Viper, Rufus, and El Fuerte. Each character is completely different from the other and in my opinion are welcome additions. I like C Viper the most out of the new characters, but I'm still enjoying the other characters and you will too. None of the new characters seemed uninteresting or unoriginal.
Each character in the game has a different variety of special moves, even if some characters take some special moves off others. Every animation is different and leads to a different style of attack. Obviously some attacks are stronger than others and players will have to find the right character to play as. For pulling off special moves I prefer using characters with circle specials rather than charges, but once again thatís all personal preference. Thereís a wide variety of choice and attacks from each character you will most defiantly be happy with more than one or two characters. Itís important to note that some characters are actually weaker than others but still provide better styles of play for some they make the obvious choice. As an example, Sakuraís hadoken is smaller, slower, and weaker than Ryuís but can be adapted differently than his. You can charge Sakuraís which provides a different style of play.
Going online in SFIV is for the most part a good experience. For starters you are given a title and icon in which you can set for all challengers to see. There are a ton of titles and icons to unlock and choose from. Youíll find something you like. While they arenít necessarily the most exciting things to unlock they do add a little bit of enjoyment to the game.
Having extensive knowledge of your moves will give you the edge
You have two options for online fights Ė Player Match and Ranked Match. Youíll use Player matches for playing constant matches against friends, and Ranked Matches to get up there on the leader boards. When you win and Ranked Match youíll be awarded a certain amount of Battle Points(BP). These points determine your place on the leader boards, and I can see hardcore players taking the amount of Battle Points they have seriously.
The Online play takes a turn for the worse when you are matched up with laggy players, which in my experience will happen every 10 matches you play. Itís impossible to get rid of lag, but in Street Fighter major lag makes it nearly impossible to pull off any good combos. Itís incredibly frustrating, thankfully it doesnít happen too often. Finding a Ranked Match may also take quite a bit of time, since the list only refreshes three games at a time. It was uncommon to click ranked match then a room and join on the first try. The list continually refreshes until you get into a room. The wait isnít too long, but they should have made a better quick match system. Maybe loading more than 3 matches at a time would help players get into the matches on the first load. Still, with a system that is delicate like that itís hard for me to say I could design it better, because having thousands of players trying to join games at once is a complicated issue. Overall, the online play is acceptable and will certainly please everyone, but for the hardcore fans basing all skill from an online fight wonít cut it.
The graphics in street fighter IV may take some getting used to. The game is indeed beautiful, and even though fighting games donít seem like they would be the most artistic it shows in SFIV. The graphics look like they are real mixed with some comical cell shadedness. Itís a weird combination that is actually beautiful once you are used to it. The backgrounds in each level are wonderful and have good variety. I think the best part of the graphics though is the animations. Every characterís attacks are designed differently and they all flow so well. Itís crucial for a fighting game to have great animations, but in Street Fighter IV they break my expectations. It looks incredible when you pull off some of your special moves. Crimson Vipers fire kick, Ryuís hadoken, Kenís Flame Shiroyken, Sakuraís kick, etc Ė all wonderful. You will feel like your kicking ass in so many ways you may jump in excitement when you get to see your Ultra/Super combo.
Ultra Combo Finish!
There is a major problem with this games graphics though, and thatís people who are playing on a Standard Definition TV. You cannot read ANY text; Iím unsure how anyone who plays on a SD TV can read their combos. You literally have to squint to see anything. Itís very annoying and was a poor design choice on capcomís part. I highly recommend playing this game in HD if itís possible for you.
Iíve been told by a couple of my friends that the soundtrack in Street Fighter IV is pretty bad, and I tend to agree for the most part. Some of the songs are really Japanese and arenít the greatest in my opinion. Still, the music is quite suitable and will help immerse you into battle. Sound effects are great though, smacking someone in the face sounds awesome, as well as shooting fireballs and performing other specials. Iím impressed with the sound, and the voice acting in the anime cut scenes actually arenít half bad.
After being somewhat disappointed with the lack of depth in Street Fighter II, I am astonished at some of the things that have been added to Street Fighter IV. The combat is deep, and requires pure skill. Every single addition in this game has made it better than the previous. The Focus system is brilliant, and well as Ultra and Super Combos. When you first boot up this game the combat will look similar to Street Fighter II, but when you learn the new additions to the game it gets more complex and fun. A lot of time can be spent learning new tips and tricks to beat your opponent, and when you win you will know it was a matter of skill and not luck. The amount of joy you can get from this game is massive if you're patient. The quality of graphics and sound only add to the overall enjoyment. The new characters are all loveable. New modes such as Challenge and Training allow for more fun ways to waste time with the game. There is a massive amount of stuff to unlock, but some of which should not be forced upon us, like unlocking characters. This also brings up the fact that arcade mode is getting old and annoying. Itís hard and gets boring. The anime cut scenes are also brutal. Ultimately, everyone who has a passion for fighting games will be happy with Street Fighter IV, itís a fantastic game and shows that a series that has gone over a lot of makeovers is still fun.
Presentation - 8.0/10
The game presents a story through each character in anime cut scenes which feels pointless making the story's unenjoyable. With that said the game still has high production values and shows lots of quality.
Graphics - 9.0/10
They arenít like anything Iíve seen, but they are wonderful. The stages and characters are beautiful; Watching your characterís move set is awesome on so many levels. You won't be able to read text on a SD TV.
Sound - 9.0/10
The sound effects are amazing. Iím not a huge fan of the soundtrack though.
Gameplay - 9.0/10
For a series thatís been around for a while theyíve made great adjustments and additions in this game. Every new element in combat feels great and adds a lot more depth to the game. Fun for hardcore players and approachable for new players who are patient.
Lasting Appeal - 9.0/10
There is lots of stuff to unlock, but the best thing will be one-on-one battles with your friends (online and off). If youíre willing to practice and learn you could be playing this game for ages.
Achievements - 8.0/10
A wide variety of achievements Ė most of which will be unlocked over time of play. Other achievements are so hard they will prove to have good bragging rights, and the achievement art is good.
OVERALL: 9.0/10 - Outstanding
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Edited by The Colonel, 06 August 2009 - 09:51 PM.