Street Fighter IV Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Street Fighter IV has been a long time coming. But we can almost be certain of the fact that over those many years, there has been much discussion, internally in Capcom, over the direction of the new game and a poring over of all the fresh additions, or it’s pitchforks time for poor Capcom, such is the life for a game and its creator with such a strong following.

In several ways, Street Fighter IV is almost a tribute to Street Fighter II: the character roster encompasses the original selection as well as some faces from later upgrades, along with a handful from the Alpha games. There’s a fair amount of new characters also included: Abel is a French amnesic brawler, with a grapple centric style, the bulging bellied Rufus is more agile than his huge frame suggests, El Feurte is a chef and with his Lucha libre wrestling style, he’s without doubt the most OTT character in the entire roster and in turn, immensely enjoyable to take charge of, Crimson Viper, the female suited spy, has a certain SNK like flavour to her, finally, Gouken is Ryu and Ken’s master and Akuma’s brother, judging by his deadlier take on existing moves, it seems his students still have a lot of catching up to do before they reach his lofty level.

The fighting is represented by 3D character models and backdrops, but it’s still very much a 2D game, which is for the better, as taking it into another dimension would be perhaps a step too far for its loyal fan base to cope with. Which isn’t to say that Street Fighter IV isn’t approachable for series initiates or wet behind the ears types as Capcom have strived to make it welcome for as many people as possible.

Combo timing is less harsh and the game seems to have a better grasp of just what manoeuvres you’re trying to execute. Street Fighter III’s parrying system has been dumped in favour of the much more accessible focus attack. This handy move can absorb attacks and leave your opponent open to deadly moves. This new addition is flexible enough so as beginners can introduce it to their game in almost an instant, but also so the masters are able to employ it in much more intricate and dizzying ways, such as using it to cancel attacks. If you want to get the most out of Street Fighter IV it still very much requires nimble fingers and a solid plan, but is gentler on the less experienced, so as to make that learning curve a bit less of a daunting prospect.

Another thing that helps to ease the less skilled of players into proceedings are the trials. These are essentially like the exercise mode in the Dead Or Alive games. On a more basic level, they task you with pulling off character moves, but things grow more complex when you’re tasked with pulling off tricky combinations of normal moves, special moves, super combos, ultra combos and cancels that will make some curse their lack of fingers. The trials are a great training aid and will enlighten many to mechanics that they weren‘t even aware existed.

Elsewhere, all the famous manoeuvres are intact (and are given a new lick of paint with the lovely art style) and the super combo gauge is still there. In Street Fighter IV, this isn’t only used to fire off super combos, but using up a chunk also allows you to execute enhanced versions of moves, allowing for not just more powerful manoeuvres, but also for otherwise impossible combos to be executed.

Joining super combos are ultra combos. You gain these by not dealing damage like you do with super combos, but by instead receiving it. Once enough damage is taken, you’re given the chance to gain more than a little revenge with a damaging and visually spectacular move, of which is made all the better with its dramatic camera angles that fantastically frames not only the OTT action, but also the comical fear etched on your opponents face.

The arcade mode is the usual fight against a line of AI opponents, but notable are the anime style openings and endings for each of the characters, which look quite nice, but with them just lasting seconds, they’re terribly wasted. There’s also final boss, Seth, to contend with, an adversary who seems to vary in difficulty (easy one minute and then cheap as hell the next) on whatever difficulty you have the game set to, and you have no choice but to face him, as the many characters are obtained by multiple play throughs of the arcade mode.

Street Fighter IV is also online and whilst it’s not as rich in its options as many other games playable down the magic wire are, it certainly embarrasses many of them performance-wise. Just as long as you opt to play people with decent connections, matches run lovely and smooth, with few exceptions, though at the time of writing the match-making system is fairly broken, which can occasionally make even getting into a match a bit of a hassle.

Visually, Street Fighter IV looks so fantastic, that it hardly matters that the Okami like visual style that was seemingly hinted at in the first trailer is nowhere to be seen. It retains all the cartoonish charm of the 2D games and has a wonderful, distinctive art style.

Street Fighter IV may be the first game in the mainline series to have polygons, but it’s still very much a Street Fighter game, which is to say it’s an evolution and not the revolution that its legendary ancestor was, this will be more than enough for most devotees though. For newcomers, it’s the perfect entry point to start honing their skills. Street Fighter IV lays out the welcome mat for everyone and if you’re partial to a bit of virtual pugilism, there’s really no excuse not to take them up on their kind offer.

Oh, and those pitchforks can be left safely outside the door.