REVIEW: Street Fighter IV
The 2nd-shortest way to describe the gameplay in Street Fighter IV would be, “Take Super Street Fighter II Turbo, keep all the good ideas from SF3 and Alpha (quick-standing, dashing forward and back, EX Moves, cancels), dump the bad ones (parrying, air blocking, high jumps, turn-around stuns), and thrown in a few extra bits of awesome (focus attacks and ultra combos).” What you get is something that feels more like a sequel to Street Fighter II than Street Fighter III was, with the emphasis of the old chess-like strategy over stringing together long, flashy combos.
The twelve original cast members from Street Fighter II return, along with Gen (SF1), Cammy and Fei Long (SSF2), Rose, Dan, and Akuma (SFA), and Sakura (SFA2). New to the series are Abel, Crimson Viper, El Fuerte, Gouken (first time playable), and Rufus.
The new focus attacks allow you to absorb one hit, knock an opponent to the ground, and are unblockable when fully charged. They allow you to punish someone who constantly crowds you with simple moves, but are easily countered with EX moves that hit multiple times. Again, the old-school chess-match at play.
Gameplay against the CPU is standard fare for Street Fighter. The AI isn’t intelligent, it’s cheap. The computer is an utter retard on Easiest (except when you’re about to unlock a special character, then the pants finally come off their heads) and begins pulling off miraculous saves (I once had Cammy pull off her Ultra in response to my Chun-Li’s Ultra in the nick of time, despite the fact Cammy’s face was close enough to Chun-Li’s undergarments that the scene could have been rated M for Mature.) and nigh-impossible-to-escape cornerings on Medium (I hate Rufus). The same theory goes for Challenge Mode — while there’s no difficulty select, you’ll notice the AI gets harder as you progress through the trials.
The online multiplayer is a bit lacking in options. You can set the relative Skill Level you’d like to compete against, but you’ll never know what the computer thinks your or your opponent’s Skill Level is. While you can set an option to be interrupted while playing Arcade Mode by an online challenger, there’s no option to limit incoming challenges to, say, Friends Only, nor can you limit incoming challenges by Skill Level . You also have 1-on-1 Versus mode, which inexplicably limits you to two people when Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting on Xbox Live Arcade allowed you to have a lobby of four. Also shamefully lacking is the complete roster’s move list in the printed manual. Yes, you can pause during single-player modes and get a moves list, but at $60, the least you can do is not stop at the 16 characters available from the onset and give us the extra 9. We’re going to look online and get those characters unlocked anyway.
That’s a shame, really, because that kicks Street Fighter IV out of a “definite-buy” and more into “better try it, but you’ll probably like it,” position.