It’s been ten years since Capcom released its last bona-fide entry in the seminal Street Fighter series. Street Fighter III: Third Strike – while an exemplary technical fighter – alienated all but the most intransigent gamers. Its brutally unforgiving fighting engine, particularly its renowned parry system required timing of utmost precision, and proved to be a notable barrier of entry for new players.
Capcom’s intention with Street Fighter IV was rekindle gamers’ passion for the series by playing on the nostalgia of Street Fighter II – the most beloved and successful game in the franchise, and also its most accessible – to reclaim its position as the true king of fighters. Street Fighter IV isÂ the first game in the series in over a decade to dispense with superlative prefixes and suffixes and instead increase in numeric value. How does it fare?
Find out after the jump kick!
Unless you’re an impatient gamer, the first thing that’ll catch your eye is the opening sequence – An alluring showcase of mixed martial artistry presented as heavily stylized living watercolour art. It’s quite simply breathtaking, and gives you just a hint of the visual flair that Street Fighter IV possesses. Unfortunately, it’s accompanied by an awful ill-suited J-pop track that’ll have you reaching for the mute button.
Arcade mode provides players with the core experience, and it’s here where players will find it instantly familiar – yet somehow refreshingly different. All twelve of Street Fighter II’s World Warriors are available from the onset providing an entry point for players returning to the series. Four new characters accompany them – Abel, a French grappler; Crimson Viper, a mysterious agent with a move-set more reminiscent of certain SNK fighters; Rufus, a burly and rotund yet surprisingly nimble fighter; and lastly El Fuerte, a seemingly ill-fitting luchador. A further nine characters can be unlocked, extending the roster to a substantial twenty-five.
After selecting your character, you’ll take them on a global tour, pitting your skills against various fighters, a penultimate rival, and finally Seth, the game’s annoyingly cheap end-boss. Before that though, you’ll be treated to a short anime clip for each character; similarly you’ll watch another after completing the game. These poorly animated, badly dubbed bookends do little to further the meager story. Some of them, particularly those of lucha libre chef El Fuerte and Blanka, the Brazilian jungle-monkey are so mind-numbingly bad they’ll leave you staring at your TV, mouth agape. There’s such an obvious disparity between the production values of the game itself and these short animated clips that you’re left wondering if it would have perhaps been better to not include them.
Once you’ve started playing the game proper though, you’ll forget that you’ve just endured watching a terrible intro scene, and all memories of “Indestructible,” the game’s ghastly opening theme will be washed away.
You’ll instantly be mesmerized by the game’s sumptuous, breathtakingly resplendent visuals. You’ll be taken in by the dynamic character models, bringing your favourite fighters to life in glorious 3D, and you’ll be equally entranced by the lively and varied backgrounds, so filled with subtle touches and nuances – all of which come together at an unwavering, silky-smooth 60 frames per second.