Street Fighter IV Review
By Adrienne Dudek |
Fighting game fans that don't have access to a current-gen console have been waiting for Street Fighter IV for a long time. Capcom's high-profile fighter continues a nearly twenty year tradition and it has finally hit the PC landscape, following a rather successful romp on the PS3 and 360. Although there are some important notes to make regarding the PC version, Street Fighter IV is still a great title and one of the most enjoyable fighting games I've played in the past few years. Capcom has managed to strip away the baggage that has accumulated around the series and returned to the franchise's roots. The result is a game that plays very much like a purified, simple fighter -- but with several modern enhancements to enrich the combat. If you've been playing Street Fighter for years, this game will feel like an old friend. If you're completely new to the scene, Street Fighter IV is a great place to start.
Street Fighter has traditionally been a game focused on one-on-one combat on a 2D plane. Over the years, the roster has evolved and various tweaks have been made to the formula, but the core components remain to this day. Street Fighter IV lets you select a character and square off against another warrior in the ring. Each character has a variety of normal attacks and Special Moves to take advantage of, but the actual gameplay boils down to a balance between raw physical skill and the mind games that play out between players.
Look out, Ryu!The beauty of Street Fighter IV stems from how approachable the game is and how it can be enjoyed on so many different levels. For those gamers interested in grabbing trusty ol' Ryu and diving into the mix, things will feel natural and there's no need to obsess over learning all the subtle details and nuances that make up the fighting game experience. However, there's so much flowing beneath the surface of Street Fighter IV's mechanics that long-time fans will have plenty to learn and re-master if they want to truly understand the gameplay.
For example, one of the newest systems in Street Fighter IV is the Focus system, which allows a character to charge up an attack that will knock an opponent down if it connects properly. For a beginner, the Focus Attack isn't necessarily needed to win. He or she could simply rely on the traditional assortment of fireballs and dragon punches to get by and have a good time doing it. But if the Focus Attack seems appealing, performing it is a piece of cake -- just hold down both Medium Punch and Medium Kick together and charge it up. With a simple input, the player now has access to an attack that adds another layer to the combat.
But that's not all there is to the Focus system. Players who want to dig even deeper into the technical elements of it all will learn that the Focus Attack can also absorb a single oncoming strike without being interrupted. Although you take damage for the absorption, that damage will heal given time. In this way, the Focus Attack becomes a defensive technique as well as an offensive one and offers even more strategy for players to consider.
Don't worry ladies -- Ken is back.And there's even more. You can also cancel a Focus Attack mid-charge by dashing out of it, which can help you play tricks on your opponent. Or, you can expend a portion of your Super meter (which I'll touch on shortly) to cancel a Special Move directly into a Focus Attack. This single system depicts the broader Street Fighter IV picture: it's so easy to pick up and play but there's enough depth to keep even the most hardcore competitors satisfied.
There are a number of other systems in Street Fighter IV that players can keep track of. There are two meters that can be used during a match: the Super meter and the Ultra meter. The Super meter fills as you land attacks and fight normally, while the Ultra meter (or Revenge gauge) builds up as you take damage. You can use the Super meter to execute Super Combos, which are elaborate attacks that can be chained together with normal techniques for some spectacular combinations. On the other hand, you can use the Ultra meter to perform Ultra Combos, which are more cinematic, devastating attacks that can turn the tide of battle in your favor.
Once again, these systems can be enjoyed on a number of levels. You can -- for the most part -- ignore them if you wish, or you can just wait for your meters to be filled and then attempt a Super/Ultra Combo. But if you're interested in even more technical applications, you can use a quarter of your Super meter to perform Ex versions of Special Moves, which generally strike in different ways than the normal versions.