STREET FIGHTER 4 REVIEW
10 years.....a long time for anyone to live for sure. It's hard to think that it's been 10 years since the last genuine Street Fighter game having been released on home consoles but here we are, older (and hopefully wiser) with a new entry in the legendary 2D beat-em-up series that anyone who's ever played a fighting game will know, Street Fighter.
Anyone following the game's release will remember the uproar of how the game dared to go 3D with its graphics. Long steeped in 2D traditions, Capcom took a big risk with their most famous franchise into a new dimension but fans will be happy to know it has paid off. Capcom have been reasonable in implementing this transition by ensuring the characters look great but not photo realistic. Old and new characters alike retain their slighty exaggerated characteristics, reminding people of the prior Street Fighter games rather than isolating this entry from the rest of the franchise.
Now, with the most contreversial issue out of the way, how does SF4 hold up 10 years after its predecessor and 15 years after its main competition, SFII? To be honest, exceedingly well, actually. Granted the game trades on the nostalgia of players as they'll be able to pick up either Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li or Guile and feel like they've played this for ages.
But a mere retread of the old this is not. Introduced into the game are a few features, one of which is know as the focus attack. This is triggered by holding down the MP + MK buttons, of which you can have 3 different strengths of attack (the strongest of which is unblockable). Use of this feature doesn't end there as you can actually use it to cancel out of regular and special attacks for some of your super guage, creating new combos for old and new characters alike. It actually makes playing with old characters you may not have originally played with usaully worth playing, breathing life into the game once again. The game also brings over the EX specials from SFIII: Third Strike, allowing you power up a regular special to get more for your fight (either more hits or added qualities to regular special attacks).
Another new element introduced in SF4 are ultras; moves that can be done when you've taken enough of a beating that a guage wrapped around your super meter at the botto of the screen begins to flame meaning you can unless what is essentially the equivalent of a max super from any of the past SF/Capcom beat-em-ups (the strength varies based on how full your ultra guage is at the time). When these are initiated you have the camera zoom in on your player as they get into position to deal out a dose of damage on the unwary opponent. Although they take some time to start up and if missed are easily punishable due to the vulnerable state they leave the player in, if they connect you can send your opponent reeling as you soak up the joy of having your move connect. They are an interesting element added to the game, another way of building something that can turn a match fro being beat down to putting the beat down on your opponent, a high risk/reward situation.
Add to the above the trials, time attack and survival modes that allow you to unlock character and stage art, as well as the ability to unlock 9 extra characters in the home version (something that is definitely a benefit over the arcade version) and online play and there is a lot to like about SF4.
So, coming back to the start of things, having waited 10 years for a true sequel to SF4 has it been worth the wait? I would say a resounding yes and although I would appreciate if Capcom brought out a new Street Fighter before I reach my 30s I would not hold it against them as SF4 takes the best of what has gone before and adds its own tweaks to the system to make a game that is comfortable familiar yet interestingly new. Always a hard feat to achieve in today's market but one that Capcom seem to be proficient in to say the least.