Old school fighting fans rejoice, the King of Fighters has returned! I myself am a fan of 2D fighters, and have been my whole life. Being one of the many who spent thousands of quarters on such classics as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, I for one am extremely pleased Capcom stuck to the original formula (unlike Midway). Street Fighter fans will feel right at home with Capcom’s latest iteration of the series. The fighting mechanics have stayed the same, which is great. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sure, a few people might disagree since they were hoping for a revamped fighting system, but sticking with something tried and true was the best bet for Street Fighter IV.
The new look fits perfectly with the 2D fighter. 3D comic book-esque models kick, punch, and hadouken as smooth as can be. The stages themselves are an updated throwback to some old favorites, with a few new stages mixed in. However, the new stages seem to lack the character the old ones do. Maybe I was just feeling nostalgic. Special effects such as flames look great and fit well with the cartoony new style. Characters have plenty of animated detail, with one such example being Rufus’ hypnotic belly jiggles. It’s easy to see that Street Fighter IV received much more than just a fresh coat of paint. It’s been refined and perfected.
The gameplay is just what you would expect from a Street Fighter game, including tight controls that respond on a dime. Combos take skill to perform, and practicing your combos makes for ‘perfects’ at the end of each round. Super combos and Ultra combos make a triumphant return, and the animations get a next-gen treatment. Of course you can always up your game by getting a SFIV arcade pad, or a Street Fighter-branded controller, but in all honesty the DualShock 3 feels as though it was made for this series. The dpad being in the ‘proper’ position, unlike the other console’s version, should make owners of both consoles choose the PS3 version hands-down.
The characters themselves are full of spunk, with a cast that is smaller than recent iterations, but focused and full of variety. Even Ryu and Ken, who use the same martial arts, feel very different in Street Fighter IV. Make sure you play through the entire roster to find out who best fits your fighting style. Doing so will help you when playing online so that you can take advantage of your opponents’ weaknesses. My only complaint is with Seth, the final boss, as he’s basically a big, blue doofus. Seth is boring as can be. No personality, no emotion, nothing really memorable other than his cheap moves, his devastating Ultra combo, and maybe that silly spinning yin-yang in his gut.
The game features a robust amount of modes, including the mainstay arcade mode, which can be spiced up a bit by enabling ‘Arcade Request’. Just like in the arcades, a random person can challenge you to a match while playing through Arcade Mode. The only difference is that these are online opponents.
The Challenge Modes provided the most fun for me, and also add some replayability to the game since they unlock titles, extra colors, and personal actions as you proceed through the tiers. Although, I must say I would have liked more than 2 available color options available from the start. Online works flawlessly with easy match-making and quickly-responding servers.
Street Fighter IV is a very polished and complete game. It certainly appeals to fans of the series, fans of old school fighters, and fans of good fighting games. There isn’t much to pick apart, other than maybe not enough new gameplay mechanics being introduced, which will leave many feeling like it’s the same old Street Fighter that received an aesthetic makeover. But it does manage to be accessible to those who have never played Street Fighter, and challenging to those who have.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Not enough new game mechanics.
Revitalizes the series by making it more accessible.