Street Fighter IV Hands On
11/02/2009 at 20:22
Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES was one of those games that battered, pummelled and bruised its way into the gaming masses' zeitgeist like no other. It was bundled with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, proved itself to be the
game to play in the arcades and even managed to somehow infiltrate that other beautiful game
by featuring on advertising hoardings up and down the country. And so here we are in 2009 with Street Fighter about to hit the shops and the public's conscience all over again. The excitement is palpable and you can almost cut the air with an E-Honda hand slap!
[THUMB1]Perhaps the first thing that hits you about Street Fighter IV is just how instantly familiar it all is. Sure, the characters have all received a sparkly new HD make-over - the game's art style really is a delight - but all of your old favourites are present and correct, and even though they seem to have all overdosed on steroids slightly, Chun-Li, Zangief, E-Honda et al are all instantly recognisable. And the first time you load the disc I can guarantee that you'll skip past all the cut scenes, ignore the shiny new options, additions and game modes and just thrust yourself balls first, (and perhaps even balls deep - such is the internet fervour ahead of this release) and just indulge yourself in the archetypal Ken vs. Ryu battle to see if you've still got it. And much to your delight you'll find that you have indeed still got it!
Hadouken, Shoryuken, down forward punch, forward down forward punch and down back kick will all come flooding back and you'll be amazed at the relative ease at which you're spitting out fireballs, launching yourself into hurricane kick after hurricane kick and even nailing those previously tricky Shoryureppas ("King of Rising Dragon Fists").
As Leo Tan (Capcom's UK PR Manager) pointed out to AATG
last month, Capcom has tweaked the timing window of the special moves slightly to make them more forgiving. And while he didn't admit to this being a concession to the 360's much-maligned d-pad, it's certainly a smart and wise move as it instantly removes a lot of the frustrations that arose from the aforementioned, upon the XBLA release of Street Fighter II Turbo. So you'll be glad to know that the 360 pad holds up pretty well actually. And while the analogue stick proves to be far trickier to get to grips with, there will no doubt be some of you out there that are accustomed to using it and it too proves itself to be fairly adept.
[THUMB2]Of course the Street Fighter traditionalists among you will have already ordered an Arcade Stick (most probably from Mad Catz as they're supplying the officially endorsed and recommended sticks), but it's hugely reassuring to know that those of us that aren't prepared for such a financial outlay can still very much enjoy the game in all its cheesy glory.
And cheesy it certainly is with an overly enthusiastic American announcer to rival that of Soul Calibur cheerfully yelling out character names and game modes like it's 1997 all over again. And while tackiness is normally something seen as a negative trait, Capcom's blatant scattering of chintzy, loud, flashy tinsel is actually hugely effective. It feels like a real throwback to the days when Arcades were alive and kicking in the mid 90s and the glowing lights and sound effects lured you in to spend the last of your pocket money. There's something just so brash and tawdry about it, but it's a perfect fit. From the game's ridiculous opening theme tune, with its terrible lyrics about being indestructible and fighting to the end, to the characters' ludicrous one-liners like El Fuerte's "It's cooking time" and Rufus' "Oh Crap", it's just brilliantly glitzy and flagrantly ostentatious.
[THUMB3]And while the game undoubtedly features its fair share of remodelled characters, redesigned background stages, remixed theme tunes and revisited move-sets, there're still plenty of new additions to more than warrant a whole new Street Fighter instalment instead of a Street Fighter 3.5. For starters there's a whole host of brand new characters that are exclusive to 4 - none of which I'll spoil at this point, although I do advise you to check out Rufus' brilliantly animated gut - imagine the breast physics from Dead or Alive applied to a fat bloke.
There's also an all new challenge mode replete with Time Attack, Survival and the brilliant Trial mode - which basically serves as a 5 level tutorial for each character that details his or her special moves and individual combos. Of course there's also the typical versus, practise and arcade modes. But most people's attentions will focus on Xbox Live play which is fully supported with a whole stack of unlockable medals all earned by meeting certain criteria such as winning an Xbox Live battle by finishing your opponent with a super combo or winning with 100% energy remaining etc. Each character also has his or her own deliciously cheesy anime style opening cinematic that sets up a preposterous premise warranting their entry in to the Tournament of Champions or whatever it's called this time around!
[THUMB4]So far then, first impressions are extremely positive. Street Fighter IV manages to be both instantly familiar, yet still features enough depth and new additions to feel like the wait has been more than worth it. With hidden counters, reversals, the mysterious revenge meter and crossovers a-plenty, there's still plenty to master and discover. And once the Xbox live community gets a hold of the game, providing there's no noticeable lag, this could soon rank up there with Halo 3 and the Call of Dutys in terms of online popularity. With the game due for release on the 20th February, the wait's nearly over.