The simple change forever alters the shape of the fight. Instead of Street Fighter III’s high-level parry system, players can Focus through attacks, even at low levels. Instead of taking a beating from an overconfident opponent, players can turn the tables in a single move. At a high level, those same moves take on entirely new uses and change the shape of the fight in entirely different ways.
Street Fighter IV wants to be played by old blokes like us and by new players who weren’t even born when Street Fighter II changed gaming permanently eighteen years ago. It’s crammed in a bumper-sized chunk of content especially for console fighters. At first Street Fighter IV offers a taste of both old and new with twelve characters from Street Fighter II which any Street Fighter veteran can feel comfortable with and four all-new fighters from the arcade version of IV – Crimson Viper, Abel, Rufus, and El Fuerte – and later lets you crack into a further nine unlockable fighters.
The initial 16 have been tested over months of arcade and tournament battles in Japan, and the game has held up well. By accident, or design, Capcom’s team have built a very well-balanced game; while everyone agrees El Fuerte is among the game’s weakest fighters and Sagat its strongest, the gulf between the two isn’t so great that anyone need lose simply because they chose the wrong fighter for the bout.
For every challenge, there’s a reward. SFIV wants to be played, and is happy to bribe you if that’s what it takes. But you won’t need the million freebies, the half-dozen play modes, the new stages on which to fight, the new colours, taunts, the downloadable costumes, or the animated cut-scenes. Nope; all you’ll need is one friend.
There’s no greater test of skill than a good fighting game. It challenges your knowledge of the game’s systems, how well you know your character of choice, your skill with a joystick, your timing, your concentration, your ability to read your opponent, and your ability to cope with a competition which will set your heart racing every single time. Bring a friend, online or off, and it’s a game without end – one where you’ll learn new skills every time you play and never grow tired of experimentation.
With SFIV, Capcom have defined what it is to be a fighting game in the twenty-first century just like they did in the twentieth. That meant dumping the missteps taken by Street Fighter III, and drawing from the very best moments of the series – the accessibility of Street Fighter II, the pace and style of Alpha, and the fluidity and depth of Third Strike.
SFIV had to be a Street Fighterthat can be played by anyone who’s ever picked up Street Fighter II, and a Street Fighterthat gives everyone all the help they’ll need if they’re starting completely from scratch. It’s effortlessly both of those things. While every other fighting game has become an elitist club for the best of the best, Capcom have given Street Fighter back to the people, where it belongs. It’s in all our blood, after all.
Check back tomorrow for a follow up feature covering all of the character profiles.
Jan 13, 2009