Street Fighter IV Review (PS3)

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.

Rating: 8/10

A New Challenger Has Entered!

Back in my early gaming days there was one arcade machine likely to get the kids crowded round it… Street Fighter II.

Quite simply we’d never seen anything like it – the animations, the colours, THE MOVES!

‘Holy crap he just threw a fireball!’

‘Check out this guy – he can pull off Zangief’s spinning piledriver.’

A fair amount of 20p’s – yes you young scamps it was only 20p in those days – were thrown into the machine practising moves and trying to get as far as possible.

You would watch others play – trying to see how they were pulling off certain moves, this was in the days before the internet so we couldn’t ‘google’ “Street Fighter II Moves” and see what came up.

Eventually with the boom of the home console market SF II made its way onto the SNES and later the Mega Drive/Genesis.

Coming out first on the SNES meant I didn’t have access to a copy – only at friends houses as I was a Sega man but one of my mates let me have his copy of a magazine which listed all the characters and moves for the game.

Man did I read that article over and over. We are talking hundreds of times – looking at the combos, thinking of the best way to lead this move into this move. It became an obsession and I loved playing the game at friends but the short sessions meant it was never a great deal of practice.

Eventually the game came to Mega Drive. I remember picking up my copy for £54.99 – I sometimes wonder how the hell they got away with charging that much for games, I suppose because people kept buying them 😀

This meant that you could get your mates round for fights or just practice on your own, as I often did, trying to perfect the Dragon Punch.

Each of the characters had their own storyline and we were all desperate to finish the game with each character to see all the endings. And it wasn’t as simple as chucking it on easy and playing through – oh no, we tried that. Beat the game on easy and all you got was this message:

“Thanks for completing the game on Easy now try it on Medium!” 😥

Can you imagine that these days? Wouldn’t happen I suspect but it spurred us on to get better and play through on the higher settings.

Of course all of this was secondary to getting back into the arcades – showing off your new found skills, pulling off dragon punches or perfectly timed sonic booms… and realising you’re not as good as you think when someone hands you your ass on a plate with a side order of hadoken.

Although frustrating getting beaten, especially so publicly often meant going back to the drawing board – possibly a change in character?

 

I know people who were resolute – they stuck with one character and tried to perfect their game with them.

I preferred to mix and match a few – Guile was undoubtedly my favourite character but I often switched to Ryu, Blanka or Chun Li if he wasn’t doing the business.

As time went on Street Fighter became something that was just played on the odd occasion, for old time’s sake if you like.

I never moved on to Street Fighter 3 but instead switched to the newly released Mortal Kombat. I played some Marvel vs. Capcom but couldn’t really get into it.

So when I heard talk of Street Fighter IV I was mildly interested but as information leaked my interest crept up.

“The graphics look great, they haven’t gone fully 3-D, the gameplay is brilliant, it’s just like the old days” is what seemed to scream out from every preview I read at the time.

And so I was really looking forward to getting my hands on the game and seeing if the hype was true and Capcom had pulled it off – first impressions are good but I’m going to give it some more attention and get a review up shortly.