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Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360) artwork

Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360) review

"Street Fighter IV has been brawling in the streets and arcades for almost two years now, has spawned a superior sequel and is branching out into new crossover territory next year with Capcom's much anticipated Street Fighter X Tekken release. Here in England you can pick up a copy of this game for under £10 now so with that in mind this review shall explore the relative merits and flaws of Capcom's return to its most beloved franchise. "

Street Fighter IV has been brawling in the streets and arcades for almost two years now, has spawned a superior sequel and is branching out into new crossover territory next year with Capcom's much anticipated Street Fighter X Tekken release. Here in England you can pick up a copy of this game for under £10 now so with that in mind this review shall explore the relative merits and flaws of Capcom's return to its most beloved franchise.

There has been a renewed interest in the 2D fighting genre during the last couple of years, no doubt helped by Microsoft and Sony. Contemporary gamers have access to many classic games as downloadable content. As a fan of the genre and in particular the Street Fighter series, this has pleased me greatly. Now I can relive those fireball spamming moments between Ryu and Ken in glorious HD, a far cry from those original but still great games. Now there have been some great 3D fighting games out there, Tekken and Virtua Fighter in particular for me were the top dogs for a long time, but with recent releases, especially from Namco, being somewhat over-hyped and poorly executed it is good to see a developer choose to return to a genre I thought may just become a foot note in gaming history rather than playing safe.

Street Fighter as a game series has always been a crowd puller, in fact it is probably the most iconic fighting series to date. I believe that Capcom has enjoyed such great success with the series for three reasons; great character selection, new and often innovative fighting modes and techniques and a willingness to listen to their fan-base. If we expand upon these points you will quickly come to understand that each has been applied with care to Street Fighter IV, making it a worthy successor to those games that have come before.

The cast of Street Fighter IV is large and comprehensively drawn from many of the previous titles. All twelve characters from SFII make an appearance as playable characters, so once again you can trade off Fireballs against Sonic Booms and moan about how good M.Bison's Psycho Crusher is. Rose, Dan, Gen and Sakura from Alpha are welcome additions, with Dan once more taking up the mantle of comedy pointless character. Finally, from Super Capcom have included saucy British Assassin Cammy along with Bruce Lee wanna be Fei Long.

Not resting on their laurels, Capcom have added four new and interesting characters into the mix. El Fuerte, a Mexican wrestling cook is fast and agile, C. Viper a technology using assassin has some nifty electricity attacks, Rufus, a fat blob who wants to be the best US fighter is considered by many a tier 1 fighter and tournament play choice together with Abel, a Bison clone who has lost his memory and fights like a ring boxer/ MMA'ist.

If I were to criticise the roster at all it would be for slightly unjust reasons in light of the fact that many of my favourite missing characters would later appear in Super SFIV. However, I would like to add that there are still a couple out there that I'd like to have seen be given the opportunity to shine in this new game series, including Birdie and Sodom from Alpha, Sodom especially due to his unique playing style and Alex and Oro from SFIII, Oro particularly, because there are not enough one-armed, immortal, fighting hermits in games, which is a shame.

For SFIV Capcom have provided the player with many choices of technique. The ability to combo chains of hits together to cause a lot of damage on an opponent is still there but Capcom really wanted to move away from this a little and reward the skilled player for his or her ability to preempt her opponent and punish them suitably. Each character has super attacks under his belt: more powerful versions of regular special moves such as fireballs etc, EX moves which often hit for two or more hits and new for the series Ultra moves, which build up as you are hurt, are lengthy with awesome cut scene animation and hit for massive amounts of damage.

However, the fundamental core game technique SFIV is built around is known as the Focus Attack. This new technique deserves some attention; you really need to master its idiosyncrasies to master the game, which means learning the timings of many moves for a whole roster of characters. Doing so will enable the player to dominate online, making all those practice hours worth while. Focus attacks basically allow a player to absorb hits and counter their opponents attack at the same time, simply by holding down medium punch and kick buttons for a period of time. This allows you to follow up on your surprised opponent, giving you an advantage. The trade off is a slight drain on your super bar.

It is however, the second use of the focus attack that proves more useful. This option allows you to cancel blocked special and normal moves into a focus attack, allowing you to be free to quickly respond, rather than waiting for the inevitable block, heavy leg sweep repost. It is with this technique and timing learned from hours of practice that truly skilled players dominate their fights. Focus Attack Cancel linked to the character's Ultra "finishing" move makes for a deadly and unblock-able combination.

My main criticisms of SFIV gameplay stem more from the basic mechanics of the system rather than any of the new features. It's a little unfair however to criticise a game for allowing players to spam fireballs or to hundred hand slap you into oblivion when it is essentially something that curses most fighting games. I don't mind defensive play, in fact some of the characters are well suited, the fireball, dragon punch mob springing to mind as examples. However in my experience, online play seems to be a case of who can spam who with the most skill-less attacks. I'd rather be totally owned by a FAC into Ultra attack than pinged for block damage by the insane amount of Sagat players out there. Just a personal thing though I guess.

Fan-service is well and truly catered for in SFIV. Not only does the game look totally awesome with 3D rendered fighters squaring off against beautiful 2D backgrounds, but the level music is both familiar and aurally pleasing too. Sound effects are spot on and I've been convinced on more than one occasion that a train has just gone by when fighting in Moscow.

It's with the couple of extra characters that fans really are rewarded by Capcom this time around. For years we wondered who Ryu's master was and what he looked like. Well, after pressure, Capcom decided to include him in their home editions of SFIV and boy is he a tough cookie. Akuma returns once you've played the game for a while and so now you can have those Akuma vs Gouken fights that fanboys dream about.

I always say that the strength of a fighting game is in how popular it is years later and I hope SFIV will remain so for years to come, especially online and at tournaments. I love nostalgia as much as the next guy, but this game really is, apart from in a few small ways, better than all of its predecessors. It may not have guard features or air guard for that matter (as my friend constantly moans about), it may lack the pace of Turbo for example. Priorities for some characters such as Zangief mean that throw moves become far too powerful against certain foes and the game is not entirely well balanced for every fighter. But show me a fighting game where one or two characters don't have some sort of advantage over the rest and you'll no doubt be talking about a great game.

SFIV is neither too "anime" to keep out casual gamers, too difficult to annoy or too flashy to obfuscate the action. So bring on a yard full of sequels, and crossovers, (oh wait, Capcom are doing this already) and get ready to fight. SFIV is in my opinion well worth the asking price and long may it continue.


PaiMay's avatar
Featured community review by PaiMay (December 29, 2010)

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Masters posted December 30, 2010:

Hi there. Welcome to HG (assuming you're new here).

Normally, a review like this would not be approved, and it's not because of any lack of quality insofar as your actual writing skills go--you're clearly competent enough at communicating your thoughts.

The issue I have with your review is in how it works (or doesn't) as a... review.

It seems you have fighting game knowledge, and enthusiasm, and you have strong opinions about various fighting game canons; but you actually say precious little about this PARTICULAR GAME, and why it deserves a 9/10 (and your recommendation).

I'd like to see you tighten up the wandering blog-like discussion of the genre in general, and spend more word count instead tackling the merits of SFIV in particular.

If you're out there, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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Leroux posted December 30, 2010:

I agree with the above. I'd like to point out an example:

"I'm not going to waste time comparing SFIV to any of the previous games that have come before it in this awesome fighting series."

This sounds like an interesting and new approach (although I wouldn't say it would be a waste of time to do so), but it renders a later line like this completely unconvincing:

"I love nostalgia as much as the next guy, but this game really is, apart from in a few small ways, better than all of its predecessors."

That's a bold claim, and needs to be supported, but it isn't and leaves more questions from the review than answers.
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- posted December 30, 2010:

In a completely unrelated note - more discussing the value of Street Fighter IV - you can get Super Street Fighter IV for £15, and it's most definitely worth the extra few quid if someone's not got either Street Fighter IV title yet. Plenty of improvements across the board make the original obselete. I've easily spent more time on the sequel update.
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PaiMay posted December 31, 2010:

Thanks for the feedback, I'll get on it and tighten up that review. Btw I'm not new, just a long time lurker. Hope you enjoy my ypdated review a little more.
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zigfried posted January 01, 2011:

The update is quite a bit clearer than the original draft. Nicely done.

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radicaldreamer posted January 01, 2011:

Factual corrections:

-The Focus attack by itself does not drain the super bar at all.

-Supers cannot be canceled with focus attacks, only special moves and normals can, which consumes two EX bars.

Also some typographical/grammatical errors:

"...making it a worth successor..."

" van trade off Fireballs..." (also, fireball doesn't need to be capitalized)

"this allows you too" (to)
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PaiMay posted January 04, 2011:

thanks for picking out my spelling errors, really.

Yeah I actually meant special moves, but it's hard to keep up with what is called what sometimes, especially when you're tired, like I was when I wrote the update. Anyhoo....

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