Street Fighter IV
PlayStation 3 (Capcom 2009)
The big G-S-G-S-G
General opinion: Very entertaining classic fighting action
Story: Ok for a fighting game
Graphics: Pretty good, for 3D
When it comes to fighting games, there is no series as legendary as Street Fighter. So after a long break, a new title in the series is obviously a major event, one of the most important games of the year, no doubt. And it doesn't disappoint.
Another worldwide fighting tournament is being held. Some enter to prove themselves as fighters and face old rivals again, some to investigate strange events in the background, with possible connections to the criminal organisation Shadaloo, which was supposedly destroyed previously. There's enough story to keep me entertained, but of course the focus is on the fighting.
The character roster, featuring mostly classic characters from Street Fighter II, is quite impressive, with 16 initial characters and 9 additional unlockable characters. There should be enough variety in play styles to cater to all tastes. Gameplay, as such, hasn't changed much since the early 90's, although everything is smoother and more polished, of course. There are now two super move gauges for two different super moves. A new feature is the "Focus Attack", a chargeable attack made by holding down the medium punch and kick buttons, with many advanced uses, like absorbing damage and canceling. However, as is often the case with advanced game mechanics in fighting games, I haven't really gotten the hang of its use yet. All the normal play modes are present, including arcade mode, versus mode and various challenge modes, so there is plenty to do.
The graphics are the most radical change. Instead of the traditional 2D sprites, the game features 3D graphics, even though it still retains the traditional 2D gameplay. On first glance this lacks some of the grace of hand drawn sprites, but the graphics are quite good all the same, and you quickly get used to them. Naturally it also makes possible some effects you couldn't do in 2D, like changing camera angles during the more impressive special moves. There are also animated opening and ending movies for each character in arcade mode, which are pretty good.
There is less to say about sound. It's all pretty good, good effects and voices, a choice between Japanese and English voices etc. The music does its job, but isn't anything particularly special. Frankly, after playing Guilty Gear, no fighting game music has really been able to impress me.
Unlike many old school 2D games, Street Fighter IV is quite approachable. The moves of many characters are fairly simple to learn, and the arcade mode is pretty easy to beat on the easiest difficulty setting, although I'm sure there is plenty of challenge for anyone on the higher difficulties, and many characters are much more challenging to master. Of course fighting games are always most fun in company. There is also an online play mode available, but that doesn't really appeal to me and I've never tried it. Frankly, I'm afraid I'd get my arse kicked, the scrub that I am.
All around, Street Fighter IV is a very entertaining fighting game, perhaps the best in its genre we've seen in years. There's another big title coming out this summer, though... We'll just have to see how it holds up.
Ben B. Bainton, 23 June 2009