The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
When Capcom announced Super Street Fighter IV, many gamers were instantly reminded of buying multiple versions of Street Fighter II back in the early ‘90s. These fans complained that this new release was only an excuse to “trick” gamers into buying the same game twice. No matter how much skepticism its release has generated, Super Street Fighter IV includes far more content than any previous Street Fighter iteration.
Whereas the SNES updates added only a handful of new characters each time around, SSF IV comes out swinging with 10 additions to the original SF IV roster. Of the new challengers, Juri is my personal favorite. She features multi-level projectiles, a punishing cartwheel kick, a sneaky air combo, and a brutal Ultra Combo. In terms of sheer weirdness, newcomer Hakan is the standout of the bunch. He’s a hulking, bright-red beast who refers to himself as the “Oil King of Turkey.” Almost all of his moves revolve around oil, including one “attack” in which he pours two bottles of olive oil all over himself. It’s not just for giggles, however – the oil increases his damage and defense, and extends the reach of certain attacks like his oil slide.
Not all of the extra fighters are brand new – several are veterans from Street Fighter III and the Alpha series. Fans of Adon, Makoto, and Ibuki will feel right at home thanks to how these characters are handled in SSF IV, with updated moves that feel faithful to their original incarnations. All of the playable characters, new and old, fit perfectly within Capcom’s classic fighting universe and are welcome additions to the series’ rebirth.
For all the praise Street Fighter IV received, one universal complaint revolved around how online play was structured. Modes were scarce, and the ranking system left much to be desired. A free DLC update didn’t do much to remedy the situation, so a total overhaul has been introduced in SSF IV. Endless Battle is a new mode that allows several gamers to join a lobby and watch the action, and it operates on a “winner stays” system. If you’re on a tear, you won’t stop playing until one member of the lobby finally topples you (leaving you to sit back and watch the action until your turn comes around again). Team Battle allows you to pit two teams of up to four players against each other, and you can even set up lopsided 1 vs. 4 bouts if you’re feeling particularly cocky. Standard ranked matches are always an option, and an enhanced Replay mode gives you the opportunity to study other world warriors’ tactics. Online play on the whole is far more robust in Super Street Fighter IV than it was in the original, and significantly increases the replayability.
When it comes down to core gameplay mechanics, there’s no denying that Super Street Fighter IV resembles the original in almost every way. However, the numerous new characters and greatly improved online options make the game worth a purchase regardless of whether or not you owned IV. Capcom has said all along that there was simply too much content here for it to be released as DLC, and my time with the game has convinced me of this. I put nearly 100 hours into IV, and I can easily see myself pumping dozens more into this update. If you haven’t played IV at all, then $40 is an absolute steal for the ultimate version of the best fighting game in recent memory.
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Improving on success can be tricky, but Capcom’s best games are crafted through careful iteration. Super Street Fighter IV continues the company’s legacy of fine-tuning their premier fighting game to pugilistic nirvana. Each of the 10 new characters alters the flow of a fight dramatically, forcing gamers to stray from their accepted battle routines. I was so charmed by Juri’s flashy kicks and Hakan’s oily antics that my stubborn allegiances to the classic fighters were forgotten. The return of the car-smashing and barrel-busting minigames delivers refreshing gameplay variety and a jolt of nostalgia that will leave you drooling all over your arcade stick (and if you don’t have one of those, get one). The oodles of new content combined with the streamlined online experience are enough to satisfy even the most fanatical fighters.