A sunny day in Manchester beckons the excitement ahead as HMV Gamerbase throws a preview event for the release of Super Street Fighter IV where players could come and play the new game and try old and new characters alike in the latest rendition of Street Fighter.
The day kicked off at 9:00am and many seasoned and interested players were present with their fightsticks on hand to try their skills out against each other. Gamerbase Manchester had arranged 10 casual setups for play through the day as well as 4 main big screen setups where the main of the tournament unfolded, one where entrants could only use the new characters introduced in SSFIV. There was even a project showcasing some of the matches on the back wall of the room and with the sound pumped up made for an interesting and exciting occasion.
The new characters only tournament certainly placed players on an even playing field as none of the participants at today's event have been privy to the game (except those who may have attended the London event earlier in the month) and so it would come down to a true test of skill to see who could emerge victorious today. Capcom were also kind enough to donate additional prizes to the cash pot that would be split between the top 16 players in the tournament and would add to the overall excitement of the day itself.
Those who had registered for the tournament were put into 1 of 8 groups and played each player in the group, accruing points for wins and the top 4 of each group would go through to the next round. Although I was lucky enough to get through the heats (I came 2nd in my group) I was beaten in the 2nd round (by a very decent Makoto player I must add) but by that time I had been playing for about 6 hours against various other players. Characters that appeared to rise to the top of the new characters were Cody, T. Hawk and Deejay. Cody priority, tricks and all around flexibility make him a dangerous entry to the roster. T. Hawk is like neo-Zangief with just as much range, priority and some nice and quick rising and diving moves for added flavour. Deejay doesn't seem to have much priority but he has many tricks and decent combos at his disposal, plus the guy who won the tournament (player name shinji) used Deejay, so y'know? Of course the other charters were used in varying measures too but I did not see a lot of Hakan used by players today. Maybe he is seen as the new Dan? I think he has hidden potential though.
It was also nice on the casual setups to see the tweaks to the old characters as well. I played with Bison, Guile, Zangief, Gen, Fei Long and Abel. Each of those characters has had suitable tweaks that make them still relevant in SSFIV. For example, Bison can still to jumping medium punch x 2 on an aerial opponent, then catch them with his Ultra II to get some filthy damage. Guile 2nd Ultra comes out super quick and thankfully has good priority. Zangief's 2nd Ultra is 720 & 3 x kick in mid-air so you've got to be dexterous if you want to FADC a closeline into that. Gen has 2 additional supers and Ultras now which makes him even more formidable than before to play with. Fei Long's 2nd Ultra is useful for punishing overambitious opponents but only counters certain attacks? Seemed only half useful and like previous reports a little disappointing to be honest but maybe players will find better uses for it post release. Finally Abel's 2nd Ultra has him dash forward really quickly and can also take a hit (like a focus attack) so will be really good either when cornered or catching an opponent off guard even. I also saw other players use old characters with their new tweaks and they look just as formidable as the new entrants.
All in all the preview play day turned out to be really enjoyable and I will certainly attend again when they hold a future tournament. I might even have got my own stick by then. If they can have half X-Box 360, half PS3 next time that'd be cool too as I don't think I have £300 spare to be a stick for both consoles (maybe I should have won today's tournament though!) Definitely worth the trip!