Game Review: Super Street Fighter IV
Release: April 27, 2010
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: T
Anyone who grew up with video games would have to have gone out of their way in order to hide from Street Fighter. Mainstays like Ryu, Ken, Guile, and Blanka are instantly recognizable to just about anyone who has ever picked up a controller. So when Capcom finally announced that, after a 10 year hiatus, we would finally be getting a sequel to the Street Fighter III, there was dancing in the streets. People were skeptical at 1st, but eventually came around when they got their hands on the game and saw how much fun it was. Cut to a year later and we are given something expected. Something that is too small for a sequel, and too big for an expansion. As they have done before, Capcom decided to Upgrade their game into something better, something…Super.
Super Street Fighter IV is a fighting game that features 3d fighters on a 2D plane. Capcom has tried this before with varying degrees of success. Capcom has learned from its mistakes and put together a fighter that is by all accounts a perfect Street Fighter experience. They took a game that was already pretty damn good and added a ton of content and tweaks. The most notable of these tweaks are the 10 new playable characters. 8 characters return from various corners of the Street Fighter mythos, while 2 are brand new additions. In order to keep their game balanced, Capcom has altered the returning cast. Some characters like Sagat have been nerfed, while others link Guile have been given various stat boosts in order to make him more formidable.
While same-couch Versus play is my personal choice for playing with a friend, sometimes friends have lives and cant be there. The online options in Super Street Fighter IV are robust and give a little something for everyone. There are standard Ranked Matches, and leader boards. But the best addition is the Group Lobbies. A group of up to 8 people can join a room in an endless game of “Winner stays.” The best part of this is that you get to watch the fights in progress and talk trash. This gives a good feeling of the old arcade days when you “got next” by placing a quarter on the machine.
There are also plenty of things to do offline. Along with standard Arcade and Story modes, Super Street Fighter IV gives you a practice mode, as well as Trials. These range from simple special moves, to ridiculous combos that will test your patience to the breaking point.
What a difference a few characters can make. The first thing people will notice, who have played the original, is that the 10 new characters in Super Street Fighter IV have changed the landscape in a major way. While the 8 characters from other games are more fun than they have ever been (especially T-Hawk) it is the 2 brand new characters that really stand out. Juri, the female tae kwon do practitioner with the crazy eye, feels very much like a character out of an SNK game. With counters and delayed fireballs, she is a force to be reckoned with and accessible for new players and veterans alike. And then there is Hakan. Hakan is a Turkish oil (cooking I believe) wrestler. In a game that includes a Russian Bear wrestler, a green skinned beast from Brazil, and a fat guy in a yellow jump suit, it may be difficult to stand out. Believe me when I say that Hakan in a class all by himself. His moves are hilarious, and he is actually a lot of fun to play. These are two characters that, while new, feel like they have belonged in the streets for a long time.
While the trophies/achievements in the game are difficult (some downright cruel) this games does a lot to reward playing. Anytime you play with a character, you will unlock different colors, taunts, icons, and titles. It is this constant flow of gratification that helps when your trophies are few and far between. The Bonus Stages from Street Fighter II get a make over and return. It is nice to see them return.
The improvements that needed to be made to the original Street Fighter IV were taken care of. That is not to say Super Street Fighter IV is perfect. There really seems to be two issues with the game. Luckily enough, however, neither are a deal breaker. First and foremost deals with the millions of fans who picked up the original. Paying $40 for 70% of a game you probably already own may seem steep for an expansion (see Dragon Age Origins: Awakening), and having already purchased Street Fighter IV a year ago, it was hard to part with another $40 for some new characters and game play modes. This makes Super Street Fighter IV a $100 for some, me included.
The other issue with this game is the same issue that would plague most online games, but is most frustrating in a game that requires more precision than other Online games. Lag. If you have never played a fighter online, let me compare it to something you may be familiar with. Imagine playing your shooter of choice (Modern Warfare 2, Bad Company 2 etc) as a sniper. And you are only able to play the game with the scope zoomed in 100% of the time. You would need an extreme amount of precision and skill to do something like that. This is what Super Street Fighter IV is like online. Even a hint of Lag will kill the experience enough to make you never quarter up in the virtual arcade ever again. I can not speak for the Xbox Live service, but the PS3 service on Street Fighter IV was awful for me. 4 our of every 5 matches were a lag-fest, borderline unplayable. Super Street fighter IV has gone through tremendous lengths to fix the online issues and it shows. You still get the occasional bout with lag, as opposed to Ryu or Akuma, but it is far from unplayable. When you get that one unplayable match, it is hard to put it all in perspective. Lag will always ruin games. If your connection isn’t solid, I would stick to the couch.
These knit picks aside, Super Street Fighter IV is a hell of a game. It has a colorful cast of characters, tried and true fighting mechanics, and is a great value at $40. IF you have issues about laying down that much cash after already paying for the game once. I am here to say suck it up. Trade in the old Street Fighter IV, and get Super. The 10 extra characters and game-play tweaks have given a streamlined game that is all substance. If you are one of the few who hasn’t played Street Fighter IV, this is the best time to jump in.