It has been a significant period of eight years since Capcom released a genuine addition to the Street Fighter franchise. However, this does not imply that the 2D fighting game has been forgotten by players. Various versions have been incorporated into numerous “collection” games, and it has even been revamped in the form of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
Although it may be misleading to say that the Street Fighter series is “back” with the release of Street Fighter IV, as Capcom has consistently kept the franchise alive, it is safe to say that the latest installment is a triumphant return. While Street Fighter III may have been too technical for casual gamers, Street Fighter IV strikes a balance between accessibility and competitive play, making it appealing to a wider audience.
Hit the jump for our full review.
Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Released: February 17, 2009
Capcom has been criticized for maintaining its traditional 2D fighting style for nearly two decades. However, Street Fighter IV’s greatest asset is precisely that. The game is immediately recognizable and will be second nature to experienced gamers. It will also attract former hardcore gamers who have fond memories of searching for quarters in their pockets. Playing Street Fighter IV will feel like riding a bike to these players.
The game heavily draws inspiration from Super Street Fighter II Turbo, allowing players to utilize familiar strategies and techniques right from the start. Additionally, 12 out of the 25 characters in the game are iconic figures from the original Street Fighter II, including Ryu, Ken, Blanka, and Chun-Li. These beloved characters are sure to delight fans of the classic game.
The World Warriors collection has been expanded with the addition of El Fuerte, Abel, Rufus, Crimson Viper, and Seth. Despite their newness, these characters fit seamlessly into the series. While some may dismiss them as comical, such as El Fuerte’s exaggerated lucha libre moves or Rufus’ clumsy appearance, their fighting abilities are impressive. Rufus, in particular, is deceptively fast and agile, with a range of practical moves that make him a formidable opponent in skilled hands. While old favorites may be more comfortable, trying out the new characters is rewarding and enjoyable.
While the roster and gameplay may initially draw you in, it’s the added layers of depth that will keep you engaged as you strive to perfect your skills. One such addition is the “Focus Attack,” which can be executed by holding down two buttons. This move allows you to absorb and parry attacks, and charging it up will result in an unblockable attack that can crumple and stun your opponent. This creates an opportunity for you to dash in and unleash a devastating combo. Additionally, you can use the same button combination to fake out your opponent and cancel out of a special move.
In addition, the game features two meters: the “Super Meter” and the “Revenge Meter.” The former increases as you execute attacks, while the latter builds up as you block or absorb damage. The energy from the “Super Meter” can be utilized to unleash more potent EX versions of your special moves by pressing multiple buttons in conjunction with your regular special controller motions. On the other hand, when the “Revenge Meter” is completely filled, you can unleash a devastating “Ultra Combo,” which may serve as your final resort after enduring a barrage of attacks from your adversary.
The new additions to the game are easy to implement, making it accessible to all players. The “Focus Attack” can be executed by pressing two buttons at different times, depending on the desired usage. The “Ultra Combos” and EX attacks may require practice and timing, but they are based on existing skills and moves, making them easy to master. The key to success is the timing and usage of these moves, which can be learned through repeated play and practice. However, the game can still be enjoyed at its most basic level by casual players, with added intricacy for the hardcore players.
It is recommended to play Street Fighter IV with others, either in person or online, but there are also single-player modes available to improve your skills without feeling embarrassed. The game’s “Arcade Mode” consists of battles that lead up to a fight against your character’s rival and ultimately, a one-on-one battle against the game’s main antagonist, Seth. Additionally, each character has a well-produced anime intro and ending sequence.
As many gamers already know, completing the game on the easiest difficulty level can be done with one hand tied behind your back. However, if you want to unlock characters sooner, it may be worth the effort. The “Normal” and higher difficulty levels offer a more challenging experience. One boss character, Seth, is notorious for being difficult and cheap. The first round against him is relatively easy, but the second round is a different story. Seth will spam teleportation moves and use overpowered combination attacks that may leave you feeling frustrated enough to crush your controller. This is in line with Capcom’s history of creating challenging boss characters.
The game includes a simplistic “Training Mode” where players can practice their combos and special moves on a dummy. However, it does not provide any in-depth instruction on advanced techniques. For those seeking to learn more, they will need to seek out resources on their own. Additionally, Capcom has included various challenges such as time trials and survival modes of varying difficulty levels. Completing these challenges unlocks rewards such as costume colors and other extras.
Undoubtedly, the ideal way to enjoy Street Fighter IV is through one-on-one, in-person gameplay with a friend or rival. The thrill of smack-talking, shouting, shedding tears of pain or joy is unparalleled when playing against another human being. The game’s simplicity and nostalgic vibe evoke emotions reminiscent of the early-to-mid-90s. However, given that it is 2009, Street Fighter IV also offers online play, which functions as expected. The only caveat is that the smoothness and performance of the net play depend on the quality of your Internet connection.
Unfortunately, the online modes in this game only support one-on-one room setups with basic features such as ranked play, quick matches, and leaderboards. It is disappointing that there is no option to create a round-robin lobby, which means players will have to switch between games to face different human challengers. While it is possible to enable a feature that allows friends to join while playing single-player Arcade mode, it is disappointing that Capcom did not attempt to introduce any innovative features to its online competitive modes.
Street Fighter IV boasts a visually stunning departure from the series, featuring a hand-drawn 3D aesthetic that sets it apart as one of the most impressive fighters on the market. The warriors are defined by bold black lines, while the vibrant and striking color palette adds to the game’s overall appeal. The animations are particularly noteworthy, with the fighters’ faces contorting and reacting in response to the intense battles. The backgrounds are diverse and dynamic, with intricate details that will keep players engaged for months. For example, Balrog can be seen cheering on fighters from the door of a rolling jet, adding to the game’s immersive experience.
Street Fighter IV has received criticism for its English voice acting, which some find cringe-worthy. While the actors are mostly experienced in videogame voice acting, the delivery can be off-putting at times. Fans may be disappointed to hear Ryu’s Americanized delivery of “Hadoken.” However, players can switch to the Japanese audio after completing the game once. They can even choose which characters speak English and which ones don’t. The game’s intro tune, a catchy pop-rock song about being “indestructible,” can also be heard in Japanese.
Undoubtedly, Street Fighter IV is a game that should be purchased by anyone who enjoys the excitement of one-on-one fighting competitions. The game mechanics are reliable and the gameplay is fast-paced and easy to understand, even if you haven’t played Street Fighter in a while. Although the game has a limited number of modes, its foundation is so incredibly strong that anyone with even a slight interest in fighting games would be foolish to overlook it. It has clearly established itself as the new benchmark for the genre’s future.
Score: 9.0 — Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won’t cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)