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“Indestructible (I won’t let anybody, bring me down); indestructible (the last man stand-ing!)” This is what we were told in various high-pitched tones when Street Fighter IV was released in February last year. Cheesy as that may have sound; it reinforced the mantra for what would be, for some, the best 2D fighting game for a long time. Flash forward six months and news sneaks out that an updated version of SFIV is being released with Capcom denying this until their official press release (of course) that Super Street Fighter IV would be coming out in April of this year. Flash forward again and we have the release of SSFIV. Now, does it measure up to its predecessor and also what does it bring to the table for the ardent fighting fan? Read on to find out.

Super Street Fighter IV is a very worthwhile update to its predecessor in many ways and not just as a minimally tweaked re-release of what has already been delivered. The game looks as good as its predecessor, if not better, with a slightly improved quality to the edges of the characters, new stages included as well as the previous ones from SFIV, a bulkier roster, second ultras and a new hud to house the game’s menus. SSFIV, like its predecessor, has that ‘Capcomness’ about it, something unique to Capcom. Of course, anything less would only be doing Capcom a disservice in the presentation department anyway.

Ever present are the 6 attack buttons for the 3 strengths of punches and kicks, throws, special attacks, supers, ultras (2 for each character of which you pick one for battle a-la Street Fighter III: Third Strike), character taunts and the focus attacks which return from SFIV. Some players will just pick up Ken and play the same as they have since SFII, others will make their fighters dance like ballerinas whilst fighting and using all the techniques available. Hence, the beauty of playing SSFIV is that it is easy to pick up and play for new players, old fans and pro players but difficult to master.

In this iteration of Street Fighter players will get to choose from 35 fighters, adding an additional 10 characters to SFIV’s roster of 25. Joining the returning characters from SFIV are T. Hawk and Deejay from Super Street Fighter II, Guy, Cody and Adon from Street Fighter Alpha, Dudley, Ibuki and Makoto from Street Fighter III: Third Strike an 2 new entrants to the series, Juri and Hakan. Players who have played previous Street Fighter games will feel right at home with the returning characters and new players will be able to pick them up in no time.

The 2 new additions to the roster are definitely interesting to say the least. Juri is quiet a user-friendly character using the Korean martial art of Taekwondo with a fireball, cartwheel kick and mid-air flurry of kicks at her disposal. Players will find themselves able to get to grips with her pretty easily (and her firm arse and slender torso aren’t too harsh on the eyes either). Hakan is a Turkish oil wrestler and probably came about while Capcom’s creative team were at an enkai (a Japanese company drink-up), saw one of their colleagues from the SFIV production team’s faces go bright red whilst drunk and try to put the doorstop on their head. That or they wanted to design Hakan exactly as he looks; a red-skinned Turkish oil wrestler with doorstops for hair and ‘oiling up’ to improve his defence and range. Certainly a unique character in fighting games and most definitely a marmite character to say the least, he and Juri round the roster out nicely to briefly remind ourselves what we have come to accept character-wise in previous Street Fighter titles to date.

Sure the newest iteration of Street Fighter has lots going for it but most fighting game afficiandos will argue that the test of a quality fighting game comes down to if it holds up in 2-player versus mode. Whereas this is somewhat true, given today’s gaming community we can not ignore how the game handles itself online. Compared to SFIV which allowed one-on-one versus matches, SSFIV has added plenty to this part of the game. In addition to Endless Battle mode which allows players to create rooms of up to 8 players in a ‘winner stays on’ style of competition, SSFIV also allows players to create Team Battle which allows teams of players to compete against each other. There is also a Tournament Mode where competitors can compete for the top spot. This together with Ranked and Unranked Battles shows that there are many options available for those who like to be challenged by players around the world at Street Fighter and making battles between players or one player taking out all of the opponent's team on their own an exhilarating and exciting experience to partake in and watch. Another part of the online experience is the replay hub that allows players to watch their own and other’s replays as well as save favourites to their machine’s hard drive to watch back at their own leisure. It is a vast improvement over the online facility offered in SFIV and really does provide the player with far much more than just a one-on-one fighting game.

Players will also find the Challenge Mode that allows you to practice basic combos through to highly advanced combos that will have you draw upon all your skills and patience (don’t break that joystick!) There is also the Training Mode available that allows you to practice moves and techniques freely (or just watch Cammy or Juri

Although the array of quality features that SSFIV offers have been covered you’re no doubt eager to know what’s not so great about the game as well surely? Admittedly, although SSFIV is a highly worthy update of its predecessor, some will see it as Capcom milking their fanbase for more cash. This together with paid for DLC costumes and some players may wonder why they bothered buying the original SFIV if they knew this was coming out within a year of the original's release. There have also been arguments that this could have been released as DLC anyway (something Capcom have continuously said was not possible).

Another inherent issue is that players may either stick to one character or only use the ‘new’ characters (of which 8 of those are from old SF games anyway) making some of the game’s characters rarely used or redundant (this is admittedly down to each player’s personal preference however). There is also the debate of online lag and matching players of even skill. Players will complain that side-by-side a match will have turned out differently to the lag-heavy one they just lost. The same goes for a complete beginner who may never play online again when they are double-perfected by a professional player of the game who competes regularly in high-level tournaments.

Balancing all of these factors, is SSFIV a worthwhile purchase for old and new fans alike? I would say that if you want to play the best version of Street Fighter IV, want a fighter that is accessible to beginners and experienced players alike and are willing to part with £20 which tends to be the asking price in most stores for the game new then you have nothing to lose (well, maybe a round or two online to Ken players!) An indestructible update of Street Fighter IV? It most certainly won’t bring Super Street Fighter IV down.

1 comment:

Bboy Krillin said...

I can't say i'm much of a fan of the newly designed characters, they don't look like archetypes of their country, they don't represent their fighting styles well, and they just don't grab me.

That said, now i have access to an xbox 360 (wish it was a ps3), i may have to invest in a copy for myself, been playing the previous version non-stop these past few days.