Friday, May 7, 2010
"Super Street Fighter IV" is fun, but needs update
"Super Street Fighter IV"
Published by Capcom
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Rated T for Teen
The funniest thing about "Super Street Fighter IV" is the how familiar I am with the controllers, the special moves, the characters. I grew up with Ken and Ryu - watched the animated movie and own3d people in arcades. And yet, I found myself getting my head handed to me online. And I also felt like 'I've played this before' and wonder when gamers will get a new brand of "Street Fighter" - one that will compel gamers to revisit the series.
Published by Capcom, "SSFIV" is an updated, beefed-up version of "Street Fighter IV." The price is nice - but don't expect to be blown away. More on this later.
"SSFIV" has several new features, as well as redone graphics which really pop. The backgrounds are a huge upgrade from the days of playing "SFII" in arcades, with the characters in the background with limited movement. No, this time, you will be fighting on certain stages (my favorite was the airstrip in Africa) and you'll notice a cargo plane moving in the background and Balrog will open the door and make gestures. If you hit your opponent hard enough, a cargo truck will rock like crazy. Even the soldiers and attack dogs feature full movement. On another stage, the animals of the jungle flip all over the screen. It can get distracting, but I enjoyed it.
Players familiar with the series will also notice the return - yes - of the classic car and barrel stage from "SFII". Truth be told, dismantling the Lexus-type car was my favorite part of "SFII" and "Street Fighter II Turbo" on the Super Nintendo (and yes, both are in my possession). For the car bonus stage, players can use either regular or special moves before time runs out. For the barrel stage, players have 20 barrels and have to destroy as many of them as possible. Donkey Kong, FTW!
Another awesome addition is the seamless flow between online and offline fighting modes. For me, I had an early review copy of the game for the PS3 and enabled the online invites. Within seconds, I had a request for a bout. Though I have "SF" skillz, I definitely got owned. However, the matches can be adjusted to fit your level, so you want be fighting a veteran unless you want to.
The addition of the Ultra Combo system also lets players change their combos before the match starts. This is pretty cool - and a welcome addition.
The story for each character is a mix of animated action and stills. It plays like a movie as some points, a 2-D fighter at others.
The sounds are good - the soundtrack familiar and the characters retain their signature sounds - like Ken and Ryu screaming "Hadouken!" or "Shinryū-ken" brings back some great memories.
There will be a tournament mode, offered as free DLC, later this year. It will allow players to compete online against the top "SSFIV" gamers worldwide.
Also making a return to the series are a host of classic Street Fighter characters, including DeeJay, T. Hawk, Guy, Cody, Dudley and a few others. You can also adjust their trash-talking phrases at the end of the match. You can't preview them - bummer - but can experiment with them and pick your favorite.
By far, the weirdest feature is the ability to make your CPU opponent easy as butter to cream. Getting beat down? Lower their attributes and wreck shop.
However, will all of this fun stuff, let's examine the flaws.
The game can be beaten in a relatively short time - though the online modes adds a shot of life to the title. There are several updates and enhancements over "SFIV" and I have the game for $34.99 at Fry's and other local retailers.
The biggest problem, in my opinion, is it's the same game with graphic and sound updates. It's trying to win a new generation of gamers. However, when you think about it, the Street Fighter series is 23 years old and definitely showing its age. Most of the target gamers weren't even born when the first "Street Fighter" hit U.S. shores in 1987.
As fun as this game is, Capcom should take a long, serious look at the future of this series. Sure, they can stick a new coat of paint on the "SFIV" engine, add a few extras, but the game is essentially unchanged from the days of the SNES.
The verdict: 2.5 (out of 4) There are very cool features with "SSFIV." I had a blast with it - even getting whipped like I stole something online. However, after the newness wears off, you'll likely return to the "HALO Reach" beta or "MW2" or "BF:BC2" to play online. It's a fun rental with some friends and even fun online.