30 Reviews in 30 days, Day 15 – Street Fighter IV

So week two of the 30 Reviews in 30 Days feature is now behind us. This is the half-way point: after today’s reviews, I will have written half of the reviews I will end up writing for this feature. Before I get to a review I have been needing to write for a long time, let’s take a quick look of last weeks games:

Monday: Following my feature review of Damnation, I reviewed one of the most unique RPGs Square Enix has ever made: The World Ends With You. This is one of the best DS RPGs out there.

Tuesday: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix has a unique take on puzzle gaming and is worth trying.

Wednesday: Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords managed to combine puzzle games and RPGs, something most gamers did not think could be done.

Thursday: My review of Mirror’s Edge was not exactly praise worthy. If you like the game, more power to you. I don’t.

Friday: My second Xbox Indie Game review was Artoon. This Q-Bert like platformer is a little quirky, but a lot of fun.

Saturday: The Retroview made its return with my review of The Lost Vikings. Blizzard scored a hit with this puzzle-platformer, and if you are a retrogamer, you need to play it.

So that brings me to Day 15, and a game review I have started and restarted several times. In a way, I am glad I waited this long. I think my review of Street Fighter IV will more than likely be more balanced now that I have had a little time away from it.

The Legend returns to its roots

Remember when Capcom first announced it was releasing Street Fighter IV? From what I remember, the reactions were mixed. Some people wondered if Capcom was going to do a halfway decent job of bringing the Street Fighter series to the current generation of consoles. The first trailer didn’t exactly alleviate any of those concerns. Sure, the graphics looked pretty good, but their was an odd style choice with the ink splotches thrown in. Gamers were left wondering just what to expect.

What was my reaction? Well, I was hoping for a return to the days of the arcade, when I would wait my turn to take on the current champion. Street Fighter II was the game that truly made me a gamer, so I was hoping Street Fighter IV would go back to that feel. Hoping, but not expecting. As the game drew closer to its release, that hope began to grow. As I got to see more of the graphic style and gameplay, I began to really get excited. The game was going back to the old school 2D gameplay with 3D character models, a move that made it look impressive graphically but still feel like the old game. Capcom was also bringing back most of the characters from the Super Street Fighter II version of the game, along with some new characters and fighters from the lore of the series. All in all, the game looked great. So when I took my 360 over to a friend’s house the day I bought the game, I was looking forward to seeing if this game would recapture the magic of the series. I was not disappointed. The game brought back the old feelings of pure joy I used to have when playing Street Fighter II.

Old meets new

Street Fighter IV does a fantastic job of blending tradition fighting gameplay with new mechanics and characters. The primary object of the game remains the same: KO the opponent before he can KO you. Each character has their own unique set of moves, strengths and fighting styles, giving almost anyone the opportunity to find someone they can use. Like any fighting game, the gameplay is all about combos, counters and timing. The good news is Capcom does not try to reinvent the genre they helped pioneer.

SFIV Finish 1 SFIV Finish 2 SFIV Finish 3

Ultra Combos are well animated, and they can quickly change the battle in your favor.

The company did add a few of things that make it a little more interesting, however. First, there is the return from previous Street Fighter games of the Super Combo. You build up energy based on the attacks you perform, and once you have enough, you can launch powerful versions of your special attacks that will really damage the opponent. Second is the focus attack, which allows you to absorb one hit by the opponent while getting ready to deliver a counter move that can lead to a nice combo. It’s the third addition that really spices things up, however. The more damage you take, the more power you build up in your Revenge Meter. Once that is full, you can pull off your character’s Ultra Combo, a cinematic attack that usually involves several hits and lots of damage. This Ultra Combo can turn the tide of battle quickly, allowing a player who has been getting hammered to even the odds a bit. These attacks are both impressive and sometimes humorous, and they are a joy to watch. Capcom animated these attacks very well.

Here comes  a New Challenger

Street Fighter IV is loaded with characters both old and new. Along with the returning cast, four totally new characters have entered the World Tournament:

Abel: A French mixed martial artist, Abel has no memories of who he is. He approaches Chun Li because he knows she is investigating the Shadaloo. She invites him to take part in the World Tournament, and he accepts, hoping it will help him remember. Abel is a power house character who is not as slow as many of the other heavy hitters in the game.

Crimson Viper: Viper is an American who is testing a new technologically enhanced battle suit to sell in the black market. Though she portrays herself as a mercenary for hire, there is more to her than meets the eye. She is a speedy character with some unusual attacks thanks to her technology.

SFIV Abel SFIV C Viper SFIV El Fuerte

Abel, C Viper, Rufus and El Fuerte are welcome additions to the line up.

Rufus: Rufus is overweight, obnoxious and absolutely obsessed with proving he is a better fighter than Ken. Do not let his size fool you, though. Rufus is a surprisingly fast Kung Fu style fighter.

El Fuerte: A man of conflicted dreams, El Fuerte is a luchador who dreams of being a gourmet chef. He is the most unique fighter in the game, making him difficult to face as an opponent.

On top of these new characters, there are several characters you can unlock by playing the game, including Akuma, Sakura, Dan and, for the first time in a Street Fighter game, Gouken, the trainer of Ryu and Ken.

Excellent gameplay, a fantastic online mode, multiple characters, challenge modes….is there anything this game does not do well?

Yes, there is: Seth.

What was Capcom thinking?

Do you remember the first time you made it to Bison in Street Fighter II? Here was this man with soulless, glowing eyes that was able to tear you apart with his martial arts and psycho powers. At first, he seemed unbeatable, but after playing him a few times and watching others face him, you begin to figure out ways to take him down. The first time you manage to beat him, you feel a certain amount of pride at finally figuring out how to beat this menace.Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the final boss of Street Fighter IV. Where Bison was intimidating, this boss is almost comical: a genetically engineered fighter with a spinning yin yang globe in place of his torso. Oh, and Capcom in their infinite wisdom thought Seth would be a good name for this boss. Seth? Are you kidding me? I’ve met cronies in other games with more intimidating names then that.

SFIV Seth 1 SFIV Seth 2 SFIV Seth 3

Ridiculous looking, cheap and named Seth. Did Capcom really this would be a good boss?

I wish the bad news about this character stopped there, but it doesn’t. Seth is by far the cheapest character in the game. He constantly manages to pull off attacks at times that no other character in the game would be able to do. Take for example the time I went to hit him with Ryu’s Super Combo Hadoken. Seth, who when I had started the attack was vulnerable from a hit I had just delivered, manages to grab me through the blast and spin slam me to the ground. The problem with beating Seth is you really do not get that sense of pride you do when beating Bison in the older games; instead, you just kind of feel lucky. End bosses are a major part of fighting games. Ruining them can almost ruin the game. Fortunately, Street Fighter IV has enough going for it that Seth does not ruin it. This is the first fighting game I have played since Marvel VS Capcom 2 that really made me remember why I once loved these 2D fighting games. While I probably would have given the game a perfect rating had I reviewed it right after it came out, time has lead me to look at this game with a little less nostalgia for the older games. Still, Street Fighter IV is a great game, and it gets a 4 out of 5.

Sorry Yuoma. No 5 for you.

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