Platform: Xbox 360
Street Fighter is back on the streets and I can’t help but feel like a 12-year old kid again, wasting away a perfect summer day in the smokey, cement floored Castle Arcade in Western Massachusetts. Hey! my bike! That guy just stole my bike! I loved that bike man. When I think about it, not all that much has changed. Street Fighter IV’s game mechanic is strikingly similar to that of Street Fighter II and all of its various incarnations and my mind is still about as developed as that of a 12 year old. In fact, the biggest difference between now and then is that instead of getting my bike stolen, I’m getting my apartment broken into. Why they didn’t steal Street Fighter IV, I have no idea. Perhaps they wanted me to review it.
Street Fighter IV looks stunning. It takes a little while to get used to the size of Ken and Ryu’s arms, not to mention Chun Li’s thighs, but everything is animated so beautifully it is hard not to get swept away in its visuals and forget some of the characters vast genetic abnormalities. If you are familiar with Street Fighter, or really any fighting game you will immediately feel right at home with SFIV. Luckily for all you frame counters the developers have made some solid additions to the gameplay. Focus Attacks are new to the series. If this technique is timed correctly it will make your character invulnerable to an attack, while performing an unblockable counter attack. Another new addition is the Ultra Combo, which compliments the previously implemented Super Combo perfectly. The Ultra Combo can be performed once your “Revenge Gage” is filled enough. To fill this gauge, all you have to do is take damage. This gauge should by no means be relied upon, but it does create an interesting dynamic that makes even the most beaten down player a threat. One word of wisdom, the cinematic Ultra Combos are a treat to view, but do not jump away from an opponent when you have them on the ropes to perform one, especially if it is going to take more than a couple of tries to pull it off. It is the equivalent of a Bond villain leaving James to die instead of just killing him. Don’t give these chumps a chance to bounce back. Kill them as quickly as possible and avoid flair for flair’s sake. All in all SFIV’s gameplay is as tight is comes and a joy to play.
This is going to sound incredible nitpicky, but the single player is a bore. This shouldn’t be surprising because single player is always a bore in fighting games. The stories are always weak and the character motivations for beating each other to a pulp range from life long obsessive vendettas to accidentally bumping in to each other. So, this is not a complaint about Street Fighter IV as much as it is about all fighting games. I know that some time in the next five years we will get a fighting game that actually has a cohesive story worth caring about, needless to say SFIV is not it. If you don’t have a connection to LIVE, PSN, or a friend with a mutual love of fighting games you may want to rent SFIV before you buy and try and convert some neighbors or local vagabonds. The only valid complaint that I think I have against this game is content. Street Fighter IV is as bare bones as fighting games come. There are no mini games, no character creation, and no free alternate costumes. I say no “free” alternate costumes, because Capcom plans on releasing new outfits for the fighters through LIVE and PSN. I understand companies feel the need to milk their fan base for what little scratch they have, but start them with a better base. Give them at least one alternate costume to start, or (gasp!) the ability to download one free alternate outfit to get them used to the practice.
There is nothing is “ugly” about Street Fighter IV.
Street Fighter IV is as good as it could be, which is to say it’s near perfection. I have put in countless hours of time online and I still feel like there is a lot more for me to learn. Like all of the best fighting games, SFIV changes with you. Your timing will change as you learn how to block familiar attacks. New moves will come into your repertoire and you’ll learn how to string them into old ones. Great fighting games live and breathe with the player, allowing them to create a pugilistic free form jazz of aggression. Street Fighter IV is one of the best fighting games to hit any arcade or platform in the past decade.
[8bit Take]: Fight for your right to party. This game rocks.