So following on from my nostalgia piece on Street Fighter II last week I’ve had some more time with the new game.
And it’s been a mainly positive experience.
Graphically the game looks stunning and whoever made the decision to take the game in this ’2.5D’ direction deserves some serious props as it makes for a very rewarding game.
The controls are obviously as they have been for years, left analogue stick to move and then face and shoulder buttons for light, medium and hard punch/kick. The spare shoulder buttons are used as for a one button press that is the equivalent of pressing all three punch or kick buttons.
I had to move some of the controls around to make it easier for myself but this was no problem as the game allows you to map the button controls rather than making you choose a particular set up.
The game has several new additions (speaking as someone that has only previously played Street Fighter II) including focus, super combo and ultra combo attacks.
Focus attacks require you to hold down the medium punch and kick buttons to charge an attack for a few seconds before releasing. If you pull the move off your opponent will take a big hit and then fall to their knees, allowing you an extra hit or two on the way down. You can take one hit from your opponent while charging, which actually makes your attack stronger, but any more than that and you’ll be on your ass. It’s a nice strategic mechanic which adds a risk factor to a fairly easy to pull off move.
Both Super and Ultra combos are pulled off by repeating the left stick movement of a special move (ie. Dragon Punch) before hitting punch/kick (Super) or the button for all three punch/kicks together (Ultra).
Again these are familiar enough that people won’t be put off by trying to learn them but require the right amount of skill/timing that it feels like an achievement to pull them off.
On my playthrough with Ken I actually only pulled one Ultra Combo off and in a nice twist it was the finishing blow to the final boss Seth, which was cool
I’m sure as I continue playing and experimenting with new characters I’ll be able to pull off more and more different combos.
The arcade mode is your standard fighter fare. You get a small anime intro explaining your characters motivations etc and then fight through 4 or 5 guys. Beat them and you face your rival (with another intro) and then it’s on to Seth – the much maligned super boss.
Playing on Easy, Seth was still a respectable challenge – I beat him on probably my 3rd or 4th attempt. He has the full set of Street Fighter moves and isn’t afraid to use them.
To be honest I’ve found another of the new characters to be more of a problem – Abel.
This dude is rock hard and has an annoying throw move which he is happy to use back to back for some particularly cheap shots.
Both him and Seth are beatable though and the mode provides a good challenge to tide you over until your mates arrive.
Single-player is an enjoyable experience but multi-player is where the real fun is at. Group of mates, winner stays on – these are the memories you’ll cherish. Even online, in my opinion, cannot compete with the sense of sitting in the same room as the guy you’re sonic booming.
One small niggle is the extended load times before each fight – I often caught myself thinking my PS3 had crashed they sometimes go on so long!
With a bunch of new characters and all the old favourites making a welcome return Street Fighter IV firmly throws down the gauntlet to all fighting games of this generation.
And I just can’t see any of the other contenders being better than this.