Super Street Fighter IV Review
With the runaway success of Capcomís fighting game revival Street Fighter IV, it seemed reasonable to expect a follow-up. But those who remember the run of Street Fighter II follow-ups in the 90s probably were a little wary about an enhanced version; were we going to see a slight speed-up of gameplay, a bit of a re-balance to tone down the most powerful characters, and maybe a couple of new fighters?
Luckily, we got all that along with plenty of fan-favorite characters from the grand-daddy of fighting games. Super Street Fighter IV comes in at a $40 price tag and includes all of the content of the original game, ten new characters on top of the original gameís 25, two ultra combos and three costumes for every character, the return of classic bonus stages, and a more involved online mode with new ways to play.
The new characters are the big highlight: Ibuki, Makoto, and Dudley have been brought over from Street Fighter III in full 3D glory, Cody, Guy, and Adon return after last being seen in the Alpha series, T.Hawk and Dee Jay round out the full Street Fighter II-era roster, and two new characters are in. First, Juri is a Tae Kwon Do fighter from Korea that uses a jewel in her eye to manipulate time, while the Turkish wrestler Hakan uses barrels of oil make himself slippery in many of his moves. All 35 characters are unlocked right from the beginning, so there's no need to sit there playing the arcade mode if you just want to start learning your favorite characters.
The quality of the new characters is top-notch, too, with new anime cutscenes for all of them along with some of the ridiculous stuff you'll expect. Not only are the fighters put in some intensely amusing positions when they're the victims of the nastier moves, but they've all got that touch of silliness in Street Fighter IV that has proven to be so unique and fun. Dudley keeps his huge boxing gloves on, even when he's drinking from a tiny teacup, and Hakan's insanely strange moves will keep people laughing. I don't know if Capcom will continue to keep the comedy going in their upcoming fighting games, but personally, I welcome anything that brings us videos like this one.
But let's get back to some nuts and bolts. A major rebalancing has been done for SSFIV - Sagat and other stronger characters have had many moves scaled back a bit while weaker characters like Guile have gotten a boost. Capcom has never been the type to overdo the balance changes, though, so they usually err on the side of leaving it as it is (even if the ďtiersĒ of characters wind up not changing much). Thatís the case here, too, as Sagat is still quite strong - but just not quite as much as before. Itís hard to tell right now how good every character is yet and whether the tiers have been upended, but it doesnít seem like thereís anything too bad here.
All of the original mechanics are here. Specials, Focus attacks, EX moves, and supers and ultras are all here, and the basic way they work is all the same as you probably remember. The game's accessibility is still here, although it's still tough to get through the game's challenge modes in that there may be a non-obvious trick in timing that's required to link one move in a combo to the next. Still, those challenge modes to bring new players into at least the amateur stages of putting together big combos, and learning from great players is only going to be easier with the new replay system - more on that later.
The gameís been sped up just a bit, too, something that many vocal fighting fans have been asking for (even if I donít agree that a faster game is necessarily good for the average player). Toss in new Ultra combos for the original characters that give you a choice between two for every character - and which must be chosen during character selection - and youíve got an interesting new tactical decision to make based on the fighter your opponent chooses. In almost all cases, both of a characterís ultra combos work entirely differently, so itís a serious decision youíll have to make and could be the difference between a win and a loss.
What some players are looking forward to the most, though, is the new online setup that lets players jump into some slightly revamped Ranked and Player matches along with several new modes. Team battles let teams of 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 go against each other - although itís still just 1v1 at a time. Endless Battle simulates the old days of winner-stays arcade battles by allowing up to eight players to spectate a match and wait for their turn to take on the winner. Tournament mode is scheduled for a June 15th release for 4 or 8 players, and that can allow easy setups for online leagues and such. A new replay system allows you to browse fight replays by players with lots of Battle Points and watch their fights in slow motion along with controller input and damage numbers if you're interested. You can watch your previous fights, too, if you're interested in improving your game. Championship Mode has been gone, but most players seem to agree that Team and Endless modes are better anyway.
The point system for Ranked play has changed to foster more experimentation with new characters in online play without ruining your Battle Points for any one given fighter. Capcom has added Player points that measure your overall performance, and Battle Points have been separated out work on a per-character basis. There are leaderboards for both separately now, too. Finally, one important little tweak has been included, which is better matchmaking to prioritize ping and keep your matches at a lower latency. Those looking for better netcode or the integration of Capcomís much-hyped GGPO system will have to keep waiting, but that one slight change should ensure that better matchups happen more often.
Capcom has really pulled out the stops in integrating plenty of changes along with lots of new content for Super Street Fighter IV. From the 10 new fighters to the re-balance between all 35, from the online changes to the added strategy of having two ultra combos to choose from, itís a great new version of what was already a fantastic game. I know that some gamers that donít have extra cash to spend on this might feel a little annoyed that the new content couldnít be set up as a $20 DLC for the original game - and frustrated that SSFIV probably makes the original game essentially obsolete for online play - but no one should be surprised. Still, Capcom did bring in this improved version at a significant discount, and itís hard to argue that this enhanced version is anything but a huge addition to an already fantastic experience. It's not a fighting revolution, but it wasn't billed as one either. If you're a huge fan of SFIV and would like to see more, this one's a must-have.