What the folks at Capcom done though is design a fighting game that can easily be picked up by newcomers as well as veterans and all will have a good time. Unlike games like Virtua Fighter where the learning curve can be steep, Street Fighter IV gives you all the tools available to let newbies fight without much hassle but there are also techniques that masters will use to their advantage. It's not as button mashing heavy as say Dead or Alive but the controls aren't overly complicated. I don't have as much time as I used to to dedicate myself to practicing a fighting game so it's nice to see that Capcom produced a game that can span a wide range of skills while still being enjoyable by all. Also, while the game is in 3D, the action is still in a 2D plane so you don't have to worry about dodging in a 3D arena like in Dead or Alive 3 and Soul Calibur IV. This also helps pare down the difficulty for newcomers or casual fighters allowing you to concentrate on attacks on a flat plane. This can be a good and bad thing. Those looking for something new will be a little disappointed. Sure there are some new features such as Focus Attacks and Ultra Combos but for the most part it's Street Fighter II. For me, it takes a classic tried and true formula and mixes in some new non-complicated features and updated graphics making for a solid experience. If you didn't like Street Fighter II or III there's nothing here that will really change your mind. If you love the series, you'll love the fourth one for sure.
Now I played this game on the Xbox 360 and I didn't have too much trouble performing any of the special moves. I know the Xbox 360 controller isn't the ideal fighting game controller as the Mad Catz products are indeed high quality sticks to get for the game but if you are stuck with the gamepad it isn't all that bad. I didn't pull of dragon punches, fireballs, and wall throws as well as I did with a stick but I say I was within 90% of my full ability using the gamepad. I'm really looking forward to the PC release so I can use my Tankstick though which will make the experience a lot better. Saying that, I highly recommend picking up an arcade stick to use with Street Fighter IV to both get the full experience in achieving an arcade feel as well as being more consistent in performing special moves.
To say Street Fighter IV looks great is a bit of an understatement. The game's updated graphics takes all your characters you know and don't know and moves them into the 3D realm but keeps the 2D fighting style as mentioned earlier. Blanka's not as huge but has a great animalistic look. Ryu and Ken have a thicker look while Guile exhibits that military attitude. Rufus' bouncing belly is hypnotic and reminiscent of that one Simpsons episode where Homer is running on a treadmill in front of Mulder and Skully of X-Files. All the fighter's updated looks still exhibit that cartoon style but add a lot more detail. Animations are incredibly smooth as every fighter looks beautiful when performing moves and moving around. One thing that really helps convey the power of some of the attacks is the reaction the fighters show when being hit. You can really see it on some of the gut punches where the face of your opponent becomes a picture of pain with their mouths wide open and eyes bulging out. While the older titles had something like this, the new art and high definition graphics really brings it out making it almost like you can feel the hit yourself when you witness their expressions. The developers have done a wonderful job in making Street Fighter IV visually impressive in both design and movement.
Some stages will look familiar while there are a few new ones. The old familiar stages look great in the update and move to 3D. The backgrounds are active but don't divert your attention from the action at hand. Like past Street Fighter games, you'll have a certain amount of area to move back and forth and no ring-outs in the game. There aren't any barrel or car bonus stages though unfortunately. While I can understand keeping the feature out from the arcade game, having it on the home version would've been a nice homage to the second game.
Like most fighters out these days, Street Fighter IV features online play. For some odd reason though, I wasn't able to find anyone to fight against as I was playing on a review build in a closed network with other journalists. Once I pick up the final version, I'll be able to judge this more but from what my peers have said the online component works very well for the most part with the occasional hiccup. That said, you'll always have a variety of experiences when playing online unless there's something inherently wrong with the network code but like I said, I've heard the online portion of Street Fighter IV does indeed play well.
One thing I don't like as much as some others is the unlockable portions of games. But, it seems that a lot of fighters do it this way so I'm not surprised that Street Fighter IV is the same way. You won't have access to all fighters initially as you'll have to unlock them by finishing the game with certain characters. There are also various movies and artwork to unlock as well. Speaking of movies, each fighter has a beginning and ending anime short that for the most part aren't all that well done. They are better than static pictures and I think if there were more work put in them as well as more content in general, the movies would've been better. Once you beat the game with a fighter though their beginning and ending movie is unlocked for you to view again but I haven't seen one yet that I would view again based on my opinion of their quality.
Street Fighter IV is a solid fighting game that plays well for Street Fighter fans. It's not hard to pick up for new people and it's deep enough for veterans to master and enjoy. Because of the somewhat simplistic nature of the game on the surface, it's a great fighter to start playing if you are new to the genre. The graphics and animation are top notch while the controls aren't complicated. Online play will ensure many diverse competition while there's a solid training mode for you to practice with. Capcom's really done well in continuing the series with a high quality product and should be a great seller for them.
It's updated graphics, awesome animation, and great fighting makes Street Fighter IV a great pick up. As a past Street Fighter II player, I had no problems picking up the game and adding the new features to my arsenal such as focus attacks and ultra combos. Great job by Capcom in making a quality fighting game.
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