Street Fighter IV Review (Xbox 360)
It's been far too long since Capcom gave us another proper instalment of Street Fighter. While we love all the Capcom vs. Marvel/SNK games there is just something extra special about the series that revolutionised the fighting world.
This game moves away from the relatively hardcore aimed Street Fighter III and is clearly meant to get as many people as possible back into the fireball throwing groove. Gone are the quickly forgotten characters of before and in their place sit the far more iconic combatants from the original Street Fighter 2.
Capcom has also picked some of the best characters from the other Street Fighter games. Cammy, Akuma and Fei Long join from Super Street Fighter 2, Sakura, Dan, Rose and Gen are brought in from the Alpha series and several newcomers are added for good measure. All the characters, with the possible exception of Rose, fit the new look and style of the game perfectly.
It is clear right from the start that Capcom have put an awful lot of care and attention into this title. The opening cinematic of characters fighting in a whirl of inky lines and splashes of black on white sets a dramatic and beautiful scene. The new art style of the characters and stages is nothing short of breathtaking and helps to really give that extra level of personality and flair to the bouts.
Characters are also much more different than in some previous games. For example, all the characters that use the basic fireball, dragon punch and hurricane kick move set all pull the moves off at different angles and heights. This makes often ignored characters like Sakura and Dan absolutely devastating in the right hands.
Most of the techniques, such as air blocking and the different Alpha styles, of the previous games have been stripped away and replaced with new systems. The super moves remain and are now joined by an Ultra move which can be initiated when your character takes a certain amount of damage. These moves are spectacular to watch and can often swing a match back in your favour.
Standard special moves can also be powered up by using a section of your super move bar. Using this technique imaginatively can help rain blows down onto your opponent. The most technical addition is the introduction of focus attacks. These work by holding two buttons down to charge and then releasing. While charging the attack your fighter can absorb one hit. This means you can use the move to counter an unsuspecting opponent. As you play the game more you soon realise just how important this seemingly simple technique can be.
As well as the main arcade mode the home version now has a number of different challenges to pit your skills against. There are survival and time trial modes and a mode which teaches you about each characters move set and combos. They aren't amazing but it's nice to see them included all the same.
However, the big draw is the ability to go online and take on opponent from all the over the world. We are absolutely delighted to say that we had hardly any trouble with playing online. Games run smoothly and it is very rare to get lag even against opponents on relatively poor connections. Of course you do get the odd bad game but we only experienced this a few times in over a hundred matches.
As wonderful as Street Fighter IV is there are still a few imperfections. Seth, the final boss is one of the worst characters we have ever seen. We expect more from a Street Fighter game than a cheap character that is merely made up of moves from other people. He is also incredibly cheap. Furthermore, Rose just doesn't seem to fit in, She's a great character in Alpha but both her new design and how she plays seems out of place here. The only other minor gripe we have is that it may well take players a good few hours to really get into the feel of the game.
A few minor points aside Street Fighter IV is arguably the best game in the series history. Once you get into how it works and find a character that suits you, hours of your life will simply disappear. Even on the Xbox 360 pad moves are fairly easy to pull off and playing online is a joy. There is really no reason why every fight fan on the planet shouldn't own this game. It's a modern classic and one of few games we will look back on in years to come and get that feeling of nostalgia about.