Published Mar 03, 2009It's been exactly ten years since the last incarnation of Street Fighter came out and after a long decade, Capcom hits us with a re-up in Street Fighter IV, a game that returns the series to what made it so popular in the first place: accessible controls with lots of depth for those willing to tough it out. Most everyone who's touched a controller knows how to throw a fireball or a dragon punch but Capcom's also taught the old dog a couple new tricks that will separate the men from the boys.
Street Fighter IV does away with a number of the more technical mechanics from previous games and modifies others for simplicity. Some of these moves, such as "focus attacks," mimic certain moves without requiring any sort of fancy timing. Mastering the game still requires skill but the game also includes a mode called "Challenges" that teaches you how to use these moves with each character. The game is so accessible that anyone could master it with enough practice, but not so simple that it doesn't require a lot of said practice.
Most of the original cast is back too, like Ken, Ryu and Chun-Li, as well as some characters from the Street Fighter Alpha series. Four new challengers appear this time: Abel, Crimson Viper, Rufus and El Fuerte. For the most part, these new guys are fun, though not as polished as the older guard. The only one I would say is actually terrible is Seth, the game's final boss, who's basically an amalgam character who uses every cheap move in the game against you.
The game does take one giant step forward with the visuals. While the fighting is entirely on a 2D plain, the graphics and art aesthetic of Street Fighter have finally made the jump to 3D. The character models are colourful and vibrant, even a little cartoon-like. The same can't always be said about some of the environments. Part of Street Fighter's charm was having iconic, character-specific backgrounds, something definitely lacking in SF IV. While some classics received a makeover, most of them are sort of bland and forgettable. The game definitely has a distinct and enjoyable style but Capcom missed an opportunity to make the environments truly memorable, which is a shame.
SF IV is a game for anyone who even remotely likes fighting games. Purists and newbies alike will appreciate SF IV's simplicity and depth, while pros that spent years mastering the series' technicality and level of difficulty won't have their skills go to waste. The art style is unique and perfectly fits the series, even if they didn't go far enough. Street Fighter is definitely back in top form, and this newest incarnation is an instant classic. (Capcom)