by Brendan Griffiths
previewed on PS3
With the speed of a true fighter
Yes, the original game is barely a year old, but countless editions of Street Fighter games are something we’ve come to expect from Capcom over the years. Some offer minor tweaks of gameplay and others subtle changes that only the hardcore or most avid completionist may care for while others may throw some extra content into the mix.
This first addition to the Street Fighter IV universe may well be worth a look to all types of fan, though. Almost definitely an essential purchase if you haven’t got around to picking up the first one yet.
For players that don’t just stick with one character (look, it’s not my fault Ken is awesome), you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of extra fighters joining the tournament. Some are returning from past games and some are brand new. For starters, all 25 original SFIV characters will be unlocked from the start including Akuma and Gouken. Long-time fans can look forward to the return of some old characters too, including: T. Hawk, DeeJay, Guy, Adon, Cody, Dudley, Ibuki and Makoto. Details on actual brand new characters are thin on the ground but the female fighter, Juri, has been confirmed. Interestingly, believe it or not, she is the series’ first Tae Kwon Do fighter.
Also, as a surprise for fans from the heady days of the (many) Street Fighter 2 games who may fondly remember the special challenges between rounds. Well they’re back! Smashing up cars and destroying barrels are two of the confirmed mini-games so far making a most welcome return.
Elements of the gameplay have been tweaked but Capcom haven’t really mentioned how exactly yet. However, we can only hope that the cheating blue bastard boss Seth will be either thrown out the door or at least toned down a little. Players could sail through the game with little problems, until coming up against him. The conniving sod practically lets the player kick his ass for the first round before absolutely owning them for the next two rounds with a never-ending succession of cheap moves. In addition, the tutorial / challenge mode from the original could definitely do with a tune-up as it was ridiculously tough and unforgiving, giving no feedback as to what the hell you were doing wrong when performing moves it asked for.
The online matches will now feature a proper lobby system for a group of players to gather and take turns to go one-on-one, creating a bit of coin-op arcade atmosphere with full voice-chat support in Endless Battle (winner-stays-on). In a great move Capcom have opted to let waiting challengers see the current match in action, to simulate the true atmosphere of challenging the winner at an arcade cabinet as players try and spot an opponent’s weakness. As long as the developers can pull this feature off without connection lag crippling it, it could become one of the best online games out there. In addition to this, there is also a new Team Battle set-up allowing 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 or 4 vs. 4 matches.
Fights can now be recorded and viewed in the Replay Channel. Players can chat while watching this footage too and watch great fights from players around the world. If they manage to maintain the same graphical standards this could become very popular. It probably depends on the quality of the streaming servers. Still, it’s bound to look better than someone filming a TV with a camera phone.
Even for SFIV owners?
You might be thinking: ‘couldn’t they just patch in a decent online lobby and release the characters as priced DLC?’ Capcom were apparently originally planning to make it work like this but as the project grew it made more sense to release another retail version. The gameplay changes alongside the character additions and new game modes make this look more like a sequel than a mere update, especially considering that some past SF games have been re-released with just faster playing speeds as a selling-point. The extra characters seem to fit-in well with the current roster and should mix things up online thanks to the improvements made to the rather stale lobbies of the original.
The two versions of the game won’t work together online so if you play regularly with online friends you might want to check who’s buying the new one. But let’s face it. If they change that awful menu music we’re in for sure! Even the most stubborn owners of the original SFIV may be tempted by the cheaper price-tag of Super Street Fighter IV which is to be released at £25, some pre-orders are even less.