Street Fighter IV Review
- Posted February 15th, 2009 at 19:05 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Street Fighter IV is a sublime reintroduction to a brilliant series, one that will be celebrated by fans and adored by new players alike.
- The way it plays like Street Fighter of old, but still feels fresh and new
- The wide range of moves and the in-depth combat system
- The excellent training mode, which gives everyone a chance to master the moves
- The lengthy waiting period after losing a fight
Shoryuken!!! Few videogame series have made such a strong impact on their respective genres in the way that Street Fighter has over its 20 year lifespan. My memories take me back to the early-Nineties and Street Fighter II, which was heralded as being the catalyst that ignited the fighting game boom of that decade. I remember sneaking out of the schoolyard at lunch times to play mini-tournaments on the arcade machine in our local chip shop. The machine was used so often by school kids that the punch and kick buttons had been worn down from teenage sweat and frantic button-mashing.
It was Street Fighter II that spawned the iconic roster of virtual fighters which are now firmly etched into the memories of fans, and remembered with great fondness by all who were lucky enough to have spent time in its company. Blanka, Chun-Li, Ryu, Ken and Guile are just a few of the names that immediately trigger nostalgic flashbacks to epic SNES battles that would keep my brother and I locked away happily for hours in our bedroom without any need for food, drink or conversation.
It was with Street Fighter II that the series’ six-button configuration was born, giving us a deep fighting experience that required skill to master, but could still be enjoyed by anyone. From Blanka’s Lighting Cannonball to E.Honda’s Killer Head Ram to Ken’s Hadoken, the character-specific special moves were all impressive to watch, yet tricky to pull off in the heat of the flurrying battles, which were brilliantly orchestrated through a range of carefully traded blows, head butts, slaps, throws, fireballs and dragon punches.
Street Fighter IV has brought these memories flooding back to me with a tidal wave of affection, but more importantly, it has given us, fans of the series, a chance to re-live them all over again. Furthermore, a new legion of gamers now has the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about, and I have no doubt that they’ll absolutely love it. Street Fighter IV encapsulates the glory days of Street Fighter II by bringing back the iconic list of fighters and their familiar move sets, but it also flings some new fighters into the arena, most of whom fit seamlessly into the roster and feel like they’ve always been part of the furniture. Street Fighter is back, looking better than ever, with some superb enhancements that make it just as much fun, if not more, than I remember. This is virtual sparring at its very best and a glorious return to the quintessential fighter of this generation.
The character roster in Street Fighter IV boasts all of the recognizable figures from Street Fighter II. The mystical Indian Yogi, Dhalsim, returns, who fights well from long range thanks to his elasticized arms and legs, alongside “chunky-thighs” Chun-Li with her face-slapping Spinning Bird Kick, and the Russian Wrestler, Zangief, with his hugely powerful frame and devastating Spinning Piledriver move. The four bosses also reappear -– Vega, Sagat, M Bison and Balrog bring their blend of hard-hitting moves into the arena and all look suitably 'next-gen', rendered impressively in stylized 3D computer graphics. The characters look like they’ve always done, but have now blossomed into crisper, sharper and more vivid figures on screen and represent a true evolution of the series.
Backdrops have also been given a much needed lick of virtual paint. Some of them are still familiar. Guile’s home base of The United States Air Force airbase with an F-16 fighter jet in the background, for example, makes a return, but has been given a shot of next-gen sheen and now has so much more depth and detail to it. Similarly, other locations, including the likes of the Rundown Back Alley, Volcanic Rim, Beautiful Bay, and Cruise Ship Storm boast impressive animations and weather affects that breath life into them.
While it's certainly nice to have a good mix of suitably impressive and opulently decorated arenas to battle in, it's still the fighting that shines brightest and makes Street Fighter IV so addictive and entertaining. The games takes place on a 2D plane, which means that each battle is a tug-of-war match, a finely balanced tactical fight where you have to try and second guess your opponent's next move. The set-up is a ... (continued on next page) ----