Street Fighter IV PlayStation 3
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
At the time of writing Street Fighter IV has been on sale for a few weeks and it goes without saying that it has been an enormous success for Capcom. It would have been a fair assumption to suggest that Street Fighter IV was a game that would only appeal to hardcore fans of the Street Fighter series and fighting games in general. However, Capcom have created such an irresistible game in Street Fighter IV that it's managing to attract those who normally wouldn't give the genre a second look. I wouldn't really consider myself a fan of the genre but even I have to admit that the game is a first class effort.
The game modes in Street Fighter IV are pretty standard. In the game's Arcade mode you'll pick a character and play through their story (essentially this means you'll complete a number of fights with the character) which is told through some anime cutscenes. Versus mode allows you to choose a character to play as and a stage to play on before competing against either a CPU opponent or a friend. Network Battle allows you to play online and it's here that most will probably spend the bulk of their time with the game once they've fully got to grips with everything. You can play ranked and unranked matches and it works well enough although it's a shame there weren't more options for the online play. There's also a Challenge mode and Training mode which help to round out the single-player experience and provide a means of getting to grips with the game.
Street Fighter IV succeeds because it's an amazing blend of old and new. There are 25 fighters in the game (some of which have to be unlocked) and these are a great mix of the classic Street Fighter characters such as Chun-Li, Ken and Ryu and a good amount of new characters such as El Fuerte and the incredibly round Rufus. This mix will keep both traditionalists and those who wanted something different happy. The basic combat feels streamlined somewhat but this serves to make the game much more accessible than some of the Street Fighter titles. That's not to say there's nothing new here. There are now powerful Focus attacks, which can be used for both attack and defence purposes, and the Super and Ultra combos. In an interesting twist your Ultra combo meter fills when you're attacked and your Super combo meter fills when you do damage to your enemy. This means that both the player who is giving the punishment and the player who is taking it is always capable of unleashing a powerful attack and this really spices up the battles.
I think it's fair to say that 3D fighting games just haven't been as popular as the classic 2D games. The main problem with playing a fighting game from a 3D perspective is that you have the unwanted problems of camera angles to deal with. In a genre where timing is crucial you don't want to have to deal with a view of the action that's less than ideal. In their wisdom Capcom decided to keep the classic 2D perspective and a result you always have a great view of the action and it feels like a true Street Fighter experience. That's not to say that the game has basic looking 2D sprites however. The character are in full 3D and they look quite impressive. You'll also get a different perspective of the action when an ultra attack is performed, and these attacks look very impressive, but you're always fighting from a 2D perspective. The characters have retained their traditional looks which is essential to fans of the series. There is some rather impressive physics on display in the game and I particularly like the way Rufus' gelatinous belly wobbles in an exaggerated fashion. The animations in the game, on the whole, are over the top and look just right for the Street Fighter series. A special mention also has to be given to the anime cutscenes that have been included in the game's Arcade mode as they look very impressive and are fairly enjoyable to watch too. In short the game looks great.
There are only a few areas where Street Fighter IV could have been better. Unfortunately one of these areas is in its catering for deaf gamers. That's not to say it's problematic in any way but it could have been better. There is an option for the Arcade mode cutscene dialogue to be subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. As a result you'll get to enjoy the excellent anime style cutscenes. After a fight in the Arcade mode you'll notice the character comments are also shown in text. Comments made before a fight are subtitled but those made during a fight aren't however. The announcer comments made during a fight and when you are on the menu screens are not subtitled. Thankfully none of these omissions are going to cause any difficulties. Thankfully your objectives for the game's Challenge mode are shown in text, and the time you have remaining to complete a challenge is shown, so you'll be fully aware of what needs to be done and how long you have left to do it.
Capcom have created a magnificent fighting game with Street Fighter IV and it's a game that has not only rejuvenated the Street Fighter series but the fighting game genre as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a great fan of the genre but even I find it difficult to pull myself away from the game because it's just so enjoyable and addictive. There's an AI difficulty setting to suit all abilities and when you've had enough of AI opponents, you'll be able to take on other players from around the world thanks to the game's online options. What's really impressive is how the game successfully mixes the old with the new and how a game that has so much depth can be so accessible to those who haven't spent a good chunk of their live playing in arcades. In short, Street Fighter IV could well be one of the finest fighting games ever made.