Thursday, October 06, 2011

Game Review: Super Street Fighter IV

Super Street Fighter IV isn’t a fancy new game with new modes. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, an absolutely brilliant fighting game.
Super Street Fighter IV was released in April 2010, and is an update on Capcom’s incredibly successful “Street Fighter IV”, released in 2009. This isn’t merely a refinement; it’s a true upgrade in every way. Apparently the initial idea was to get this sorted out as downloadable content, but there was too much work and the update would have been so big it was easier just to release it as a formal game. To make gamers who bought the original feel less ripped off, it was made available at two thirds the price; £25 was the launch price in the UK.

So what was added or changed in this game? Visually, the easiest change is that there are ten characters added to the roster. Eight of these characters are remodelled from older games, including T.Hawk from Super Street Fighter II, Guy from Final Fight, a spinoff of the Street Fighter series in the early nineties, and Dudley from Street Fighter III.

The two new characters are Juri, a female Taekwondo fighter from South Korea, who’s small and nimble. In contrast, the other character is the very bizarre Hakan from Turkey, who has red skin and is a large oil wrestler. He covers his entire body in oil and slips around the floor and jumps on his opponents.
Ladies, say what you want about pregnancy and periods but, being kicked in the googlies really hurts. A lot.
Other changes to the game are welcome; like the addition of a second Ultra Combo. If you’re not familiar to the ‘Combo’ abilities in the Street Fighter series, there are two bars at the bottom of your screen that fill up. The first is the Super Combo which is filled up slowly based on how much damage you deal to your opponent. The second is the Ultra Combo, your character’s strongest move, which fills up when you are receiving damage. When a round in Street Fighter is finished your Ultra Combo resets, while your Super Combo gauge is carried on into the second round. Having the ability to choose one of two Ultra Combos in Super Street Fighter IV is a great addition as these moves are the often the coolest looking in the game and adds a personal touch when you’re playing online, as people can choose different combos.

Speaking of playing online, while there was an online option in the original Street Fighter IV, there is a large quantity of different ways of playing online this time around. There is “Team Battle”, where you and three more people take on another four people online, there is “Endless Battle” for up to eight players where the winner stays on in a 1 on 1 fight and the other possible seven rotate and take in turns, while the other possible six watch. As a free patch piece of downloadable content, later in the year Capcom released an online “Tournament” mode, where it’s possible to play up to eight players in a bracketed knockout game where the winners stay on to form a Semi Final, and then a Final. Finally, you can save replays of your fights and let people watch them all over the world, and vice versa. The large array of online modes is absolutely fantastic, and it’s arguably the most varied online selection in any fighting game so far.

Other subtle changes since “Street Fighter IV” are the improved anime cinematics for each character in the storyline “Arcade” mode, and some of the moves have had tweaks in damage. These tweaks are subtle, like Ryu’s infamous “Shoryuken” is now a two-hit move rather than a single punch. Capcom didn’t have to do these tweaks, yet it shows how much effort has been put into making this game the most complete version of Street Fighter available.

Unfortunately, there has been a some removals, to make room for some new additions, namely “Time Attack” and “Survival” mode which the latter for me is one of my favourite game modes in any fighting game. But in its place is the revival of the legendary “Bonus Stages” from Street Fighter II. After a few fights in “Arcade” mode you can take part in the first bonus stage, which is your character attempting to break a car with their fighting moves. The second bonus stage is towards the end of the “Arcade” mode where the character attempts to break barrels falling from above. The nostalgia is definitely there for those who have played the classic Street Fighter II released twenty years ago.
Akuma kicks a lot of ass but he can't break a barrel? Tut tut.
Fighting in this game is as crisp as it ever has been; the controls are very similar to all the other entries in the series with there being six attack options, three for punches and three for kicks. These three options per set of limbs vary in power and speed; the hardest hitting punch is the slowest yet the quickest kick is the weakest. The D-pad works in eight directions, similar to the older styled games where moving your character on the left of the screen to the right makes them walk, pressing left makes them walk backwards, pressing the up button makes them jump on the spot and down makes them crouch. Pressing D-pad diagonal up-left makes them jump forward and so on. It’s a very simple concept; it hasn’t really changed since Street Fighter II twenty years ago but then it doesn’t need to. This foundation is what makes Super Street Fighter IV so great.

The difficulty levels on this game are perfect; ranging from Easiest to Hardest you can choose your own skill level to play to, and they do a good job of varying the difficulty fairly. You should be able to beat Easiest if you are competent to play the actual game, and the Normal difficulty provides you with some difficult matches later on in “Arcade” mode. In the end the difficulty naturally leans more towards difficult rather than easy, but there are plenty of room here for people who are new to the series. If there are any problems playing the game, the “Training” and “Challenge” modes are perfect for those players. “Training” mode allows you to test your character on an AI character without worrying about your health bar depleting. “Challenge” mode lets you individually work on each character’s moves. Another tweak to “Super Street Fighter IV” is the option to skip certain character moves in favour of the more difficult ones later on the list; in the original Street Fighter IV you had to do each move in turn, without any option to choose a later move in the list.

I spoke of “Arcade” mode a little earlier but if you are unfamiliar with Street Fighter then here’s a description of the main game mode available. “Arcade” allows you to choose a character and it gives you an intro to why this particular character is taking part in this fighting tournament. As stated earlier the cinematics are anime, and look really good. After a few fights as stated you have the option of the first bonus stage, after a few more you have the option of the second bonus stage. The penultimate battle in the game is against your rival. Your rival is a character associated with the character you have chosen, for instance Ryu and Sagat have a long term rivalry and this is evident in Ryu’s game.

As mentioned before the anime cinematics look great and work with the design of the game but the graphics in general are absolutely gorgeous. Taking an artistic approach, the intro movie puts emphasis on the fact that this game is fictional yet rich at the same time. Capcom haven’t used the new generation of video gaming to be as realistic as possible, but instead use them as a platform to use art as a video game medium. The result simply means that this game stands out more than most other video games, even the fighting games. The Ultra Combos look brilliant as well, and nothing looks better than Ryu’s “Shin Shoryuken”, especially when the camera closes in on Ryu hitting an uppercut straight on the jaw and the character’s pain animation is shown. So much care has been put into the visuals in Super Street Fighter IV and it’s just fantastic. The fighting takes place in many different venues, some reminiscent from older games in the series, like a busy street and a jungle. Once again great care has been put in the backgrounds and they are good to look at if you’re not concentrating on the action itself.
The Ultra Combos look 'ultra' impressive in Super Street Fighter IV close up.
On a personal note, my favourite fighting game series of all time is the “Tekken” series so it’s natural for me to compare this to Tekken. And it pains me to say it, but in nearly every department, Super Street Fighter IV trumps “Tekken 6”. The online modes are just excellent, there’s such a strong selection of options available when you want to take on people around the world that is in comparison to the single option available in “Tekken 6”. Also while there is lag when you play online once in a while, it pales in comparison to Namco’s prime fighting game. It’s the comparison between the online modes available in both games where you really see the true qualities of Super Street Fighter IV shine; it’s just simply the best online experience thus far in a fighting game.

Overall, Super Street Fighter IV is the most up to date fighting experience around. And the best thing about Capcom’s most complete fighting game is that they have gone back in time to find their motivation to make such a great title. A lot of games are trying to be new, try to complicate things and try to be something their not. Super Street Fighter IV is the complete opposite of that, it’s a fighting game, pure and simple. You have your fighting game, your many different characters (35 in total now) with their range of movesets, you have your “Arcade” mode where you can complete the game and learn about the background of your character and you have your options to take on other players offline and online. That’s what this game is and it’s what a fighting game should be. There’s no new fancy game modes, or new ways of playing the game, bar online. Online aside, the only things that have changed since the classic game released twenty years ago is that there are Super and Ultra Combos, other characters and significantly improved graphics. Super Street Fighter IV brings the game series full circle and is exactly what it says on the tin, an absolutely brilliant fighting game.

Rating: ****1/4 stars

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1 comment:

  1. There are few new characters added in this series, i have downloaded and also played on my console. I have seen above video which you have shown at last. Hope we will get new series of street fighter as soon.