Ten years after the last numbered Street Fighter game, capcom has finally released a true sequel to the franchise: Street Fighter IV. The Game shipped to console owners yesterday in North America and will be released this friday in Europe.
Does the game live to its hype? Keep reading to find out:
Graphics and design: Street Fighter was always a 2d drawn sprite fighting game, but in this day and age where 3d have reached a new level of designs and details it was only logical for Street Fighter IV to go the 3d way. Fans were very skeptical when the info leaked last year of Street Fighter IV been a 3D modeled game, since the last 3D street Fighter was the EX version and was not well received among the fans.
Fortunately, Capcom knew what they were doing, watching Street Fighter IV playing on an HD display is a treat to the eyes; the characters are big and bulky and just beautiful, the animation is very fluid and the 3d models have a cell shading feel to them (although not completely cell shaded).
In addition to the Seventeen characters that were present in the arcade version, the home version of Street Fighter IV offers 8 additional characters (Fei long, Dan, Sakura, Rose, Gen, Seth, Gouken and fan favorite Cammy) Each character offers a unique type of game style and a number of good looking special moves.
The backgrounds are also very rich and vivid, and while there are only a handful of them, they are some of the richest looking Street Fighter stages. Unfortunately, people who were used to each character having his/her background will disappointed, since the stages are there for everyone to fight on.
Sound: Street Fighter (with the exception of sf3) was always known of its memorable timeless music. SFIV is no exception, all the stages have a unique tune that goes with the surrounding of the background, add to that every character has theme music when you fight him as a rival. For the old characters their theme music is a remix of their sf2 awesome tunes. Even the theme for the whole game (the one that starts right after the boys band music in the intro) is awesome.
Street Fighter IV is also the first in the series to have English voiceovers. Each character in the game now can shout their special moves with an American accent. The voice over were included because of the amount of cut scenes included in the Game.
The English va are hit and miss. While I think most of them sound bad, couple of them are actually quite good (Guile and Cammy to name a few). Fortunately an option to switch to the original Japanese voices are available, more than that, there a hidden option that you can unlock which will allow you to choose either English or Japanese for each character. For example you can have Ryu speaks Japanese but Use the English VA for Cammy. This is very cool feature that will sure please many fans out there.
Another aspect of the game that fans did not like in the arcade version of SF4 was the annoucer, who constantly comments on the game. The good news is that the announcer in the home version is only available in the vs and online modes. While he will still comment on everything, at least he will not bug you during arcade play ;-) VIOLENCE IS A BEAAAAAAUUUUTIFUL thing
Presentation: Street Fighter IV presentation is simple but right to the point. The main menu offers the different modes available in the game: Arcade, vs, Online, Training, Challenge, and Options.
The Arcade mode is as you expected lets you pick one character and fight your way through the game until you reach Seth, cheapest boss in video game’s history. To enhance the arcade mode Capcom went ahead and added Anime cut scenes for each character, a prologue and an ending that will please the Street Fighter story fans around the world. The cut scenes however are very brief and feel somewhat low budget. Still a move that I really appreciate and hope Capcom expand on the idea for its next street Fighter (5 min anime for each character maybe :p). Aside from the Anime, capcom has also included an in game cut scene that plays whenever the character you chose faces his rival.
The VS mode lets you face off against a local friend, against a cpu or even put Cpu vs CPU and watch the madness fold. Again nothing fancy here and right to the point.
The game also offers a good amount of options allowing you to customize the esthetics of the game as you please. If you think the super bars are a bit too high you can adjust them from the options menu. If, like me, you cannot stand English voice overs, you can switch to Japanese and throw some subtitles in there so you could understand what’s going on in the fun Anime cut scenes.
Online mode is where this baby really shines. But we will leave that for its own section after we discuss Game play.
Gameplay: Putting all the extras, anime, online design aside, Street Fighter was always about the gameplay. Street Fighter II fighting was simple yet advanced at the same time, new comers to SF2 could have fun without using any combos while veterans will use cross ups turteling, kara cancelling etc and the other hand you have Street Fighter 3, a very hardcore complex game that uses the parry system and I definitely not noob friendly. Street Fighter IV follows the same formula of Street Fighter II by been friendly to new comers but takes some tools from 3rd and incorporated them in a sf2 style. The focus System, the new highlight of SFIV gameplay mechanics, is used by tapping MP+MK and can be used as an attack a parry like defense and a guard breaker. The Possibilities of fusing Focus attacks with combos are endless and should appeal to both SF2 casual fans and SF3 3rd strike veterans. If I have to summarize the fighting mechanic of Street Fighter IV I would say a mixture of SF2 and SF3 put together.
It was in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, that the franchise first incorporated the super meter bar that, once filled, allows you to execute a devastating move known as the super move. The Street Fighter Alpha series offered a 3 leveled super bar and a multitude of supers per character. The Street Fighter 3 series offered the player the ability to choose on super from a list of three, but the selection has to be done when selecting your character the super meter on SF3 series also allowed you to perform the EX moves, a stronger version of special moves, by pressing 2 buttons instead of one when executing a special move command. Street Fighter IV is a mixture of the three. SFIV offers you a 5 leveled super meter that once filled allows use to execute a super move. Each character has one super and can also execute Ex moves. In addition to the Super bar, Street Fighter IV offers anew circular bar dubbed the Revenge gauge, this gauge gets filled by getting beaten by your opponent once its full you character can pull of a new move called the Ultra combo. Ultra combos are devastating moves that are quite spectacular since cameras changes and focuses on your character and the move while performing the Ultra.
With the addition of the focus system and the ultra combo, Street Fighter IV feels a fresh addition to the Street Fighter game franchise.
Online: Street Fighter IV offers an online mode where you can play against people around the world either on ranked matches or unranked. The Online as it is right now does not offer lobbying or a spectator mode, but rumor has it that this will be added later via patch (we will see).
If you thought HD remix had the best online net code for a fighting game wait until you see Street Fighter IV. The net code used for the game is with no doubt the most robust code I have seen used in a fighting game. Playing your friends across the ocean shouldn’t be a problem. Even you play someone who has a bad connection the game hides lag in a very smart way that you cannot even feel it. I played around 30 online matches and I had only one disconnect. Talking about disconnects, you shouldn’t worry about those disconnecting jerks who unplugged their router when they see themselves about to lose a match, in fact Capcom said that whoever disconnected will get a loss and you get the win.
Ranked online mode let’s you gather what the game calls battle points (BP) whenever you win you get more BP if however you lose, some BP will be subtracted from your total BP. Through the number of BP you can tell if your opponent is a veteran or just a rookie.
Searching for opponents online was never this accurate, in fact, Street Fighter IV allows you to search for online matches either by language, level (same, higher, or lower than yours), or stability (Connection quality). So if you want to test your skills against players who have a high rank than you, you can do so.
Another AWESOME feature the online offers is the ability to play arcade mode while you turn an online switch one, so while playing the single player mode, people can challenge you online and fight against you, just like in the arcades.
OVERALL: Street Fighter IV is indeed a modern master piece, every little detail with the game screams that Street Fighter IV was made by fans for the fans. The online mode which will make the appeal for the game last longer, is the most robust net code used for a fighting game. And whether you are a hardcore Street Fighter fan like me or just a newcomer Street Fighter IV will surely provide you with hours of fun either with your local friends or online ones.
FINAL SCORE: 9.9/10 (A Master piece)
+ Beautiful Graphics
+ Solid Gameplay
+ Good number of characters
+ Best Online Net code
+ Anime Cut scenes are a great touch and adds to the single player experience
- Stages are too few
- Anime cut scenes are too short and feel somewhat low budget