Super Street Fighter IV Review
Available on: Xbox 360 and PS3 (reviewed on Xbox 360)
There was a lot of hype and jubilation surrounding the release of the original Street Fighter IV as it almost single handedly reinvigorated the fighting game genre. Twelve months later and its younger brother, sleeker, stronger and packing more muscle bursts onto the scene with a heap of expectations placed upon it. Super Street Fighter IV has been out for almost a month now and those of you who didn’t leap in head first on day one are probably wondering if this title is worth picking up now over the likes of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands or even the universally praised Red Dead Redemption? Read on for the full review.
GRAPHICS: Not much has changed in this department since Street Fighter IV due mainly to the fact that the game is an update and not a full on release, but there have been improvements. Super Street Fighter IV most definitely comes across as a more polished package compared to its predecessor. As far as I can tell this is down to its better lighting which gives the vibrant cartoon like character models and various stages that little bit of extra graphical “oomph”. All ten of the new character additions to the title have been adapted to Street Fighter IV’s unique graphical style and never feel out of place. Some of the new fighting arenas you are presented with on your quest to become the ultimate fighter are actually quite gorgeous, don’t be surprised if you catch yourself admiring the sights mid bout every once in a while.
The other new additions included are the extra graphical touches that were introduced to the PC version of the original. These can now be added to you selected fighter instead of the whole scene, just as simple as changing costume or costume colour.
Super Street Fighter IV still suffers from the same problem that hampered its predecessor, extreme clipping. Don’t be surprised to see character models disappearing into other character models on a constant basis. This is by no means a massive problem though as the average person will no doubt miss most of it in the heat of battle.
SOUND: In typical Street Fighter Fashion it’s hard to not recognise the sound of Super Street Fighter IV from the characters screaming out moves to the nostalgic techno beats playing in the background, it’s all here. If you have been playing Street Fighter IV for the past year non-stop then expect more of the same in the sound department.
The voice acting is distinctly bad and can only be redeemed by the fact that there is a Japanese setting for the entire cast if you choose to make use of it. The likelihood is though that you won’t be sitting around waiting for Ryu to tell you he isn’t strong enough yet as you’ll want to pound on your opponent as soon as possible. Meaning you’ll be spared the tedious dialogue and voice acting for the most part.
GAMEPLAY: The entirety of Super Street Fighter IV’s parts can be summed up as a collection of carefully considered and executed upgrades. It is quite obvious that Capcom had not been resting on their laurels this past year while we were all bathing ourselves in Street Fighter IV glory. Using the wealth of knowledge they have accumulated during Street Fighter IV’s shelf life, every character in the roster has received an upgrade in some shape or form, while ten new fighters have been added to the roster. Eight of which have been transitioned and rebalanced from previous versions of Street Fighter to fit in and work with the existing Street Fighter IV engine. The final two are all new to the series, but all fit in with the existing cast without too much trouble. The majority of these new characters are offensive based and truly shine while they are putting pressure on their opponent. This is no doubt in response to the fact that the original was considered too much of a defensive game that punished the player for taking too many risks. That being said on the whole each of the new cast members presents new challenges for the user lending a much bigger variety to the roster than we previously had.
As if to further counteract the accusation of being a defensive players game Super Street Fighter IV boasts a significant reduction in damage output for the entire cast, some more than others (looks at Sagat). This is not just limited to character normals and specials, but also their ultras too. The result of this is that one randomly executed ultra is less likely to affect the outcome of a match. As a large portion of the cast can quite easily eat most ultras and stage a dramatic comeback.
Every character in the roster now receives a second ultra which is selectable at the character select screen with the exception of Gen who now has a grand total of four. Most of these alternative ultras serve to fill in specific holes within the specified characters game. For example, characters who didn’t previously have a ultra with juggle potential were more than likely given one as their alternative ultra at the cost of less damage from the ultra itself and so on. This gives the player more options enabling you to pick a certain ultra dependant on the match-up.
The other aspect of the title that has been significantly improved is the online play. Super Street Fighter IV’s online aspects are everything the original should have been and more, Capcom have done a great job of correcting the mistakes of the previous title. Firstly, we have an improved ranked match system. Here you can create one off matches of one, three or five round match length that are based around two stats. The first stat, player points increases and decreases based on whether you come out victorious or not. The second stat increases when you win a battle and never decreases, but affects what class you are placed in and in turn your opponents. The two compliment each other and mean you can more accurately judge your opponent. Each character in the roster has its own set of points as well, meaning you can better judge your own proficiency with each character. While it might be possible to grind your way up the “classes” and have a healthy battle point stat, you won’t be fooling anybody as your player point total and the difference between the two stats will be a reflection on your overall skill.
Secondly, we have endless battle and it is a brand new online game type which enables you and up to eight of your friends (or randoms if you lack friends) to battle it out in a winner stays on fashion while discussing the ins and outs of each others game or talking smack. Those not participating in the match itself can watch it all go down right there and then.
Lastly, there is team battle which kind of speaks for itself. Here you can gang up with your mates and take on other members of the Street Fighter community or split up your happy bunch of comrades and pit them against each other. Ever had that friend you never really liked? Then pop him on the other team and pummel the crap out of him. The format for this mode can vary from 2 vs 2 to 4 vs 4 and player order can be arranged before it all goes down.
Outside of the playable online modes is the replay channel that enables you to save your latest replays or search out others matches and save them to your hard drive. You are allowed 150 replay saves in total which you can then watch in solitude or watch with friends via your own personal replay channel. This is an invaluable addition for those YouTube whores among us who love to upload videos for online viewing, whether it be just for pride or to look back at your latest fight and see where you went wrong.
Single player wise, Super Street Fighter IV comes with the mandatory arcade mode. Unlike its predecessor it is not required for you to go through it many times to unlock characters as all are unlocked from the start. The car and barrel smashing mini-games make a welcome return to the franchise if only for nostalgia’s sake. That nostalgic feeling doesn’t remain for long though and luckily enough you can remove them from arcade mode by deactivating them if you feel necessary (not that you’ll be spending much time in arcade mode). Character combo trials are back and, to the dismay of many, are much less challenging than in the previous title. You shouldn’t find anything to get you frustrated for too long here. On the plus side they are more focused and relative to the actual gameplay, meaning in the long run they are more useful.
LONGEVITY: Super Street Fighter IV is a game that should keep anyone who is into the genre interested for a long time. The game is constantly opening up, allowing players to find more exploits/strategies within the game engine and, in turn, adding a new layer of sophistication to proceedings. This means that long after you’re bored with everything that single player has to offer, you will still be playing this title for its superb multiplayer and community value.
VERDICT: While Super Street Fighter IV can never repeat its younger brothers success in terms of bringing the genre back to life (unless of course it dies again) it most definitely improves upon the title in every way and is a worthy addition to the Street Fighter legacy. It’s a testament to the series that so long after its conception it is still bringing newcomers and hardcore fighters alike together.