2/17/2009

What I'm Playing: Street Fighter IV

Posted by Solace In Hunger


We Await Your Return, Warrior...

These words are uttered upon the end of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. However, it has already been ten years since that game's release and though we have been spared the countless upgrades as its predecessor it does mean that we have been without a new entry in the Street Fighter canon for quite some time. Until now...

The other reviews you may have read are true, Street Fighter IV takes a step back from the two steps forward the hardcore complexity and alienation the Street Fighter III series had brought us. The biggest change is the removal of the parrying system which rendered a player practically invincible. However, the steep learning curve associated with that system leaves its accessibility to only the semi-pro and pro tournament players. Filling in this void is the new Focus Attack system which can "parry" the first hit of the majority of attacks leaving the opponent open to counter attack depending on how long the Focus Attack is charged up. Adding the ability to buffer in dashes and cancels brings a new range of strategies to the gameplay.



Fifteen of the original world warriors, four Alpha characters and five newcomers pack the new roster. T. Hawk and DeeJay are out but producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that those characters may be included as downloadable content if fan response is high enough. The new characters can hold their own and I can imagine Crimson Viper and Abel becoming new favorites on the professional tournament circuit.

Even though the game was built to recreate the more simpler and familiar feel of Street Fighter II there is something very refreshing about it. The story for Street Fighter IV occurs between parts II and III so characters that made the transition to part III had lost some of their "new" moves in that installment. However, even when playing those characters there is still something new to discover. While not for everyone, I loved the new soundtrack by Hideyuki Fukasawa. Fans of his work from Chaos Legion and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams already know of his style of mixing ambient, orchestral and EDM styles as evidenced from the stages Brazil, Russia, Scotland and the new character theme remixes.

My only gripe is that to fully experience this game, you WILL need to purchase an arcade stick. Neither the 360's D-Pad or PS3 shoulder triggers function well enough to capitalize on the many combos and precise movements needed to be an effective player against upper tier opponents. The later combo trials in the challenge mode require that you be able execute movements to the frame and its very easy to have a thumb push the wrong direction or pulling a trigger a moments too late.

Rounded out with opening and ending anime cutscenes for each character, unlockable voice options, medals and a lengthy challenge mode which unlocks alternates colors and taunts the disc is a heavy package that a player can devotes scores of hours to and come away still feeling rewarded. Now, if only I can lose my reliance on the Shotokan characters and hold up my own with the Japanese players...

Street Fighter IV (PS3) on GameFAQs