Sunday, March 8, 2009

Street Fighter IV Review

I got to gamestop around 2:30 in the afternoon and when I arrived, one of the managers waiting said the shipment would arrive around 4pm. I waited in the store, there were about 10 people ahead of me who were also waiting for Street Fighter IV. By 4pm the store was pretty full of people mostly waiting for the delivery of Street Fighter IV. When the managers carted the first boxes labled Capcom the energy level became unstable in the store. The line was formed down the middle and reached the doors. I got my Collectors Edition and quickly scurried out the store and to the car. Like a kid at Christmas I opened the box to check that everything was there. Game:check, Anime: check, Ryu figurine: check, Free DLC redemtion code:check, Soundtrack:check, headband:....Where was the stinkin headband??? I didn't bother going back in the store to ask for it. It's been almost a month since launch day and I've been playing Street Fighter IV about 2-3 hours every day I can! Within the first 24 hours I unlocked Dan, Gen, Cammy, Fei Long, Sakura, Rose, Gouki and Gouken and Seth. I've fought at least a thousand online matches. Street Fighter IV has alot to offer the fans of the series, which I'll go into greater depth in a bit. The first thing you'll notice about SFIV is the game play is dramatically slower than you'll be used to if you've been playing SSFIITHDR! It will take a day or two of solid gameplay to get over the speed. The basics are there for those who haven't played since Street Fighter II, no air blocking, parrying, counters (Gouken being the exeption). Supers are in the game but don't seem so super anymore...for the big flashy wins now you'll need to be able to perform Ultra moves, basically the same as a Super but with either 3 punch buttons or 3 kick buttons. Ultra become available to a player once their revenge meter is more than fifty percent full. Street Fighter IV attempts to level the playing field by making the Ultra meter fill as you take damage and the Super Meter fill as you dish out the hurt...a sort of yin/yang aspect which is seen thru out the game. So for instance you may think because you're totally owning the person playing Zangief that the win is "in the bag", but remember while your filling up your super meter with your aggressive tactics your also filling up your opponents ultra meter, and that may be part of his tactic!
Another new game mechanic introduced is focus attacks, focus attacks are in a way the polar opposite of parrys from SFIII, from my experience they encourage agressive game play and make turtling less of an option. Focus attacks cost you a bit of your health bar but can break thru your opponents impenetrable defenses, and if you aren't hit afterwards the health you "spent" on the focus attack regenerates.
EX moves return from SFIII, EX moves are basically special moves like Chun Li's SBK or Guiles Sonic Boom. They will cost 1 block of your Super meter but can get you out of a pinch in a flash. For example; I'm pinned in the corner and my opponent is charging a focus attack, my EX SBK will break his focus attack...yin/yang again.
Onto the characters...
Since SFII I've mostly mained Chun Li, in Street Fighter IV Chuny's moves are similar yet not to SSFIITHDR...it's gonna take some time to get used to her in SFIV, I've seen so many complaints that she's been nerfed beyond repair. I had a seriously tough time with her at first, but I was positive there was still good in her and persevered, and am happy to say, with some patience and determination Chun Li can hold her own against a good Sagat player!
The four newest additions to the Street Fighter roster are Abel, Crimson Viper, El Fuerte and Rufus.
Abel is a French grappler type that suffers amnesia, I like his design and fighting style, he fits well into the Street Fighter universe.
C. Viper is a female CIA double agent deep with the SIN organization. She uses the latest technological weapons to assist her in her fights including flame pumps and electric gloves, besides being the first Street Fighter MILF she reminds me of Janet Jackson and her outfit screams wardrobe malfunction.
Another wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen is Rufus, I hate the design but love the character, apparently he HATES Ken Masters and wants to fight him...that's all I need, best of luck Rufus!
Last but not least is El Fuerte, a fighter based on the Luche Libre fighting style popular in Central America, I love the design and the fun, light hearted attitude he brings to the game. He is the perfect representative for that region of the world in the Street Fighter world....unlike T. Hawk (yack)
There is one other "new" fighter in Street Fighter IV, he is non other than Gouken! Ever since EGM's infamous Sheng Long april fools joke he has been rumored to be in the game, Gouken has been a part of Street Fighter canon. Being Gouki's brother as well as Ryu and Kens sensai he has a very detailed back story. After unlocking Gouken I immediately began playing him, I can say without a shadow of a doubt he is absolutely badass and is unique enough as a shoto to not make Street Fighter IV feel over crowded with shoto clones.
Speaking of Shoto clones, Dan Hibiki, the comic relief character born from a grudge Capcom had with SNK's blatant ripoff of the Ryu character.....he doesn't completely suck in IV lol! Perhaps it really is your time to shine Dan. Let me give you fair warning...never underestimate your opponent if he chooses Dan, being beaten with Dan is the worst humiliation you can suffer in Street Fighter.
Oh yeah if you're playing thru arcade to unlock the remaining cast TURN OFF ONLINE INVITES, hit R1 and turn them off. You can turn it back on later.

Street Fighter IV is accesable to the casual gamer as well as the Hardcore Street Fighter community, sure you can pick it up and play with your friends and never bother unlocking any of the extras, but there is a virutal treasure trove of addition content for those looking for more! Beside the unlockable characters, there's alt colors, taunts, titles and icons as well as PSN trophy support. Street Fighter IV also has PS Home support, by meeting certain critera you unlock t-shirts for your PS Home avatar such as the Dan Hibiki, Akuma "10", and Shadaloo t-shirts. I have the first two and am working on the Shadaloo t-shirt now.
There's also photo galleries and video galleries that can be unlocked by completeing tasks in the Challege Modes section.
Aside from Arcade Mode and Versus Mode, Street Fighter has Network Battle Mode (Online fighting). Unlike SSFIITHDR there is no lobby system or tournament mode, all matches are 1 on 1. I don't really mind it but many people are upset that Capcom went with this over SSFIITHDR's GGPO network. Network Mode has two types, Friendly or Ranked, they are pretty much self explanatory, with Ranked matches you earn BP (battle points), the more wins you get the higher your BP gets, the larger the varience in BP the greater the win/loss of BP is gonna be. Right now BP isn't used for anything but bragging rights but I hope in the future they offer DLC that can be purchased via BP iso real money, which is another sticky point with alot of fans. The current alt outfits that are being released in weekly packages such as the "femme fatale" are actually in the game already and have been in the game long before launch as seen in some youtube vids.
Street Fighter has the option to toggle individual characters V/O between Japanese and English, thank the good Lord because some of the english voices are horrible...exceptions imo are Sagat and Bison. I wish there was a way to shut the announcer off, he's only slightly less awful than SFA3 & CVS2's announcer!
Another minor quip I have with Street Fighter IV is the pop rock intro...OMG if my wife loves it yet hates the game what's that say? I can tolerate it and prefer it to the SFIII 3S intro but I don't think it fits. They should've just had the remixed themes randomly play each time you turn on the game.
On a similar note I was surprised to find SFIV allows for custom sountracks, sorta. So if you just absolutely can't take hearing In...destruc...tible one more time create a Street Fighter playlist on your XMB and listen to that while you wait for the game to connect you to your opponent.
When I first read that Street Fighter IV was going to have animated prologes and endings I was really psyched but after seeing every characters prologe and ending I have say some of them are very poor, and I would've prefered the static image endings and if they incorporated the ink brush style it would've felt more consistant.
If you are unaware Street Fighter IV actually takes place BETWEEN SFII & SFIII in the timeline. The story is very hokey and feels thrown together at the last minute...but we don't play fighting games for their epic storylines.
Now to the Collectors Edition goodies I got, The anime "The Ties that Bind" I'm always up for a Street Fighter anime, but this felt like two episodes of a much bigger project spliced together. This anime is light on the fighting and heavy on the chit chat..It should've been titled "Street Talker: The Conversations that Drag".
The next item in my CE package is the soundtrack, 17 or 18 tracks of remixed Street Fighter character theme's, no complaints here, each track is a treat to listen to! And No indestructable ^^.
The free DLC was strictly for the Grappler pack...yippee I don't play much with Zangief, Honda, or Abel. I wish we had the choice to use it with whatever pack we wanted but I guess they figured the grappler pack would be the least like to be purchased.
The Ryu figurine is great if you're a 40 year old vigin who collects that stuff, meh I'll take it, whatevs it's better than the MILF figurine.
The collectors edition mini guide...if you're getting the CE you most likely already know all about the game, use it to make SFIV CE coasters!
And the real reason we all got the CE, the Headband!!! This item gives you the right to go up to people in public and perform Shoryukens on strangers then run away like Dan Hibiki!
The more I play the worse the addiction gets! I've laughed more playing this Street Fighter than any previous version...lots of fanservice!
I've been playing Street Fighter since Ryu had red hair and slippers and have played every iteration of the franchise to some extent. Going from SSFIITHDR to SFIV was tough, mostly because of the difference in speed, but I'm adjusting. The gameplay is solid and the character animations are silky smooth.The strange thing about SFIV is I feel comfortable with the game mechanics to a cetain point, but there's new aspects like focus attacks that make me feel like I did the first time I played SFII in the arcade...so I guess thats a good thing! Familiar yet fresh and new at the same time.
The one thing I would really like patched is the fact that ranked matches or for that matter all online matches should be double blind.

9/10*

*this review may be slightly biased >.<