Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter is known as one of the best, if not THE best, fight game series ever. This 2D fighter made its debut about twenty two years ago but it was its successor Street Fighter II: The World Warrior that went running with all the prizes. Millions of gamers played this top title in the arcade halls and some even made it to professional “virtual” fighters. After that Capcom lost the essence of the series and released several games like the EX-series, the Alpha-series and the movie version, just to name a few, which never managed to get to the level of SF II. It was up to Capcom to step back into the ring with Street Fighter IV and come out as winner.
Contrary to other games in the fight genre you won’t get far with button bashing in Street Fighter. The heart and depth of the series is in its fighting mechanism. While other titles a winner or a loser depend more on luck than skills, here it’s all about your own skills. Timing is your friend or enemy and your reflexes need to be sharp as a sword. “Practise makes perfect” is written on the body of Street Fighter IV.
Dealing some kicks and punches won’t make it here and the use of combos is a must. Most people are able to fire off a Hadouken with Ken, but a Metsu Hadouken requires more practise and timing. Most combos are pretty simple to do until you try a Super/Ultra version or an EX Special move. With the first you first need to get hit a couple of times or be really in form before you can start. TTake for instance the Ultra Move: to do this one your bar, which fills as you get hit, needs to be completely full. While you’re hitting your opponent as a madman the tide can change completely at any moment as such combo have a desastrous impact on your health points.
One of the new additions to Street Fighter IV is the Focus Attack which is simple to do by pressing two buttons at the same time. Such an attack can take up to three seconds and absord a hit in that time. The Focus Attack can therefore be used as offensive or defensive move.
Next to some additions to the fighting mechanism also new characters can be unlocked. In total there are six of these including Rufus, Fatty American, El Fuerte, Hot Mexican Pepper and C. Viper. You start with 12 characters and that makes 25 in the end if you’ve unlocked all of them. New characters can mostly be unlocked through the Arcade mode.
Next to the standard Arcade and Versus mode it’s also worth to try checking out the Challenge mode. Here you can choose between Time Attack, Survival and Trial where the last one can come in handy as it offers the possibility to try out all combos from all characters and master them. Once you’ve got decent control in this mode, you’ve already half won.
The addition of online multiplayer makes that you won’t push this game aside quickly. I do have to say it is extremely hard online and that it took me eight games before I got my first victory. There’s no lag present, something that’s extremely important for a game as this.
Graphically things look good and the unique manga style is kept. Each character gets introduced by means of a short anima-movie where it is explained how this character got his or her invitation for the tournament and the reason why he or she participates. I’m a bit less positive on the soundtrack though, but that’s more a matter of taste.
Street Fighter IV has become a very good fighting game and certainly manages to reach the level of Street Fighter II. It’s got a nice balance between nostalgia and innovation and thanks to this will certainly appeal to both newcomers and veterans to the series. Forget Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive… the King Street Fighter is back.