Street Fighter IV is a 2D fighter, the very same as its primarily predecessor, Street Fighter II. However, instead of animated sprites, we are now treated to our cast in full 3D rendering. The animations are extremely smooth and well animated, and the super and ultra moves afforded to each combatant add a great deal of visual appeal.
Additionally, players are treated to the additional several new characters – Abel, C. Viper, Rufus, and El Fuerte. Abel is essentially a hybrid of Zangief and Balrog with some interesting rolling manouvres adding to the mix, C.Viper represents an intelligence operative with a very unorthodox fighting style, Rufus is a heavy hitter with some oddly-timed combos, and El Fuerte is a mexican wrestler, or luchadore, who is lightning fast and unpredictable.
The hit detection is excellent, the gamespeed is perfect and the cheese factor has been toned down significantly for hardcore fighting fans – allowing for a much greater degree of diversity in combos as well as in the pace of gameplay.
Also of note is the use of the new focus attacks, or saving system, introduced in Street Fighter IV. Very similar to the guard impact system in the Soul Calibur series, the focus attacks allow your player to parry an opponents’ strike and retaliate with a stunning blow of your own. These attacks are performed by pressing the medium kick and medium punch buttons simultaneously in expectation of a blow.
Street Fighter IV: Built on Nostalgia
Street Fighter is one out of the handful of names in fighters that still resonates with virtually all gamers, yet there hasn’t been a real new entry in about a decade. Capcom hopes to make Street Fighter IV a success by making it accessible and recalling memories of its most popular predecessor.
Welcome Back to Classic Street Fighter
Street Fighter II was one of the most popular games of the 1990’s and the biggest crossover hit in fighting games. This is why Capcom is harkening back to it and largely ignoring the progress of Street Fighter III. SFII is the one game that most people recall when they think of fighting games.
Street Fighter III – originally released in 1997, was an excellent game. Its third iteration, titled Third Strike, is possibly the most critically acclaimed fighting game ever. However, it did not resonate with nearly as wide an audience as Street Fighter II. This was partly because SFIII only retained a few of the characters and settings of its predecessor.
Street Fighter IV contains all of the original Street Fighter II characters along with some Street Fighter Alpha characters and five completely new characters. Even SFIV’s story takes place before III’s. Each character’s victory phrases in SFIV are even tailored for specific opponents. All of this is as if to say “welcome back Street Fighter II fans.”
Many fans who did keep up with games like Street Fighter III may consider SFIV to be a regression from that game or just another one of SFII’s many re-releases. After all, none of the 16 characters introduced in SFIII are in IV. Furthermore many of SFIII’s gameplay advancements have either been left out of or replaced in IV.
A Relatively Casual Fighting Game
Another possible reason for Street Fighter III’s failure to reach popularity of the same level as Street Fighter II is the density of its fighting mechanics. SFIII’s gameplay – like that of many fighting games, came off as a bit complex for casual or novice players. SFIV dials this back and sticks more closely to the feel of II, resting on that game’s popularity.
Street Fighter II formed a significant part of the childhoods of many of today’s gamers. Many of that game’s moves and mechanics were learned during gamers’ most formative years. SFIV depends on that ability for many gamers who may not have played a fighter since SFII to reclaim its basics immediately. This underlying familiarity is helped along by new mechanics that are not difficult to grasp.
The parry maneuver – a staple of Street Fighter III, was a very touchy thing to pull off, requiring exact prediction of an opponent’s attacks. SFIV seems to have replaced this with the focus attack – a charged attack that can count as a parry if timed right which is done more easily than timing a parry.
A new staple of Street Fighter IV is the ultra combo which is meant to balance out fights for players having difficulty. As a character takes damage in SFIV, an Ultra gauge is filled similar to the super combo gauge that’s in most SF games including IV. When the gauge is filled enough, a character can perform an ultra combo – similar to a super combo but far more damaging. A single well-executed ultra combo can quickly turn the tables on a fight.
Street Fighter IV’s only real detriments are the difficulty in finding playable matches online and in unlocking all the game’s characters. In a climate where fighting games have gotten intimidating to outsiders though, SFIV offers relatively simple fun that nearly any gamer can engage in at one level or another.