Monday, May 3, 2010

Its the Battle of the Century! The Super Street Fighter IV (PS3) Review

Street Fighter IV not only brought back the legendary franchise to amazing success, it made fighting games famous again as the community is now as strong as it ever was before. It was only a matter of time when Capcom decided to expand upon what the original game started by adding more of everything while balancing out what was in before. Super Street Fighter IV is that answer as a significant upgrade and enough to make the vanilla game obsolete. All the additions from the ten new characters, new prologues and endings for the arcade mode, and the new online modes all for 40 dollars make this arguably the best deal of the year for anyone that is interested in Street Fighter. Last year's best fighting game just got a whole lot better and there is enough for newcomers, veterans, and the competitive community as Super Street Fighter IV is just that good.

With the ten new characters, the character roster is now at an astounding number of 35. Only two of them of completely new characters, which are Juri and Hakan. Juri is the first Korean character to appear in a Street Fighter game as her style is pretty unique with dive kicks, fireballs, and even a custom combo ultra. Hakan is perhaps the most weird character in the franchise with his oiling up gimmick. His Turkish wrestling style is also unlike anything we have seen in past Street Fighter games as well. Along with Juri and Hakan, eight characters from previous games make their return in Super. Dee Jay and T. Hawk from Super Turbo, Cody, Guy, Adon from the Alpha series, and Dudley, Makoto, and Ibuki from the Street Fighter III series all make their returns. All these new characters made the translation to Super very well as they play pretty close to their previous incarnations. Of course those who were serious with the Street Fighter III characters from 3rd Strike would have to readjust their game with those characters since this still does not have parries like those games had.

The core fighting mechanics didn't really change that much in Super Street Fighter IV as it still plays like vanilla SF4 with the focus attack, the EX meters, and the ultra combos. The main addition though to the core gameplay though is that all of the 35 characters get a second ultra at their disposal in which they have to choose which one to stick with at the character select screen. These second ultras can be as much as a game changer with their first ultras as if they change up the character matchups dramatically. Ryu for example has his second ultra, the Metsu Shoryuken, which eliminates his FADC Ultra 1 combo as a viable option, but is now more dangerous up close and deal even more big damage with his new ultra. More characters even have more setups and combos that can lead up to their Ultras, which makes more useful than just throwing them out praying they will hit. Other than the second ultras, it is the little changes that count towards balancing the game from vanilla SF4, such as Sagat's Tiger Uppercut damage being nerfed even though he has a new Angry Scar move that would increase damage on his next one. Super SF4 is still as simple to play for newcomers to hop in, but still deep enough for tournament players to grasp learning all the matchups and executing some new tricks.

The arcade mode remains unchanged, other than new prologues and endings for all characters, with eight stages against the computer with some characters getting new rival battles and then culminating with Seth unless you perform specific things to fight Akuma or Gouken after defeating Seth, who is not as bad as he was in vanilla SF4 as a last boss. The versus and training modes are pretty self-explanatory being there for your needs. The trials return from vanilla as well, but the other challenge modes like time attack and survival are gone, which you have to unlock colors and taunts for everyone a different way that is much easier just by playing as those characters a certain amount of times. Bonus stages also make a return from past games as they basically the Street Fighter II ones redone with the current graphics with the car smashing and barrel breaking. The major improvement in the mode department though for Super from vanilla is going online as there are more options of how to play along with various community features too. The online play now consists of your normal ranked matches, but the endless battle and team battle modes are new and necessary additions if you are tired of just playing ranked matches. The lack of a player match is somewhat weird, but it is still in endless battle, which is basically your quarter match style approach of two guys fighting while people have to wait in line just like the arcades. Team battle is pretty straightforward with a Pokemon approach as there are opportunities to OCV (one character victory) a whole team. The online play for the most part has improved with better matchmaking as you don't need to search around a selection of matches anymore compared to vanilla and the the game does a good job of managing lag if things get out of hand. The last major feature that has improved is the replay channel as it is pretty much a YouTube of sorts for Street Fighter watching matches you recorded as well as other ones too as there are specific channels dedicated to certain characters, so you see how others would play those characters as well as learning what to do and not do in certain situations.

Graphically, Super Street Fighter IV does not look much different from the original game as the same style is still being used, but the new characters look great with their transition from their previous appearances. The prologues and endings are still done in anime style, but most of them are stilled, which is a minor gripe. The presentation does get an overhaul though with better looking menus showcasing the characters along with other things being streamlined like the titles and icons, which also make a return from vanilla SF4. The new stages though look beautiful and give the game more diversity like the Construction stage that is reminiscent of Final Fight, and an African stage that takes place during a solar eclipse with animals as well, but the old stages are still in and as good looking as they were before. Most of the soundtrack is also intact too in Super, but now everyone has their background theme song that sound similar to their original tune back in their glory days. These character themes can finally be played during normal fights now just by turning on the arranged music if you're tired of the normal music in the stages, which they still sound just as good. The character voices also can be customized just like the last game with English and Japanese voices as even with the new characters, their English voices can be hit and miss, so it is still preferable to all with the Japanese voices even though Cody in English is better than Japanese as an example. I also don't mind the new announcer too, but the "Indestructible" theme song is gone in which some are sad about that.

Super Street Fighter IV is everything you could of asked for that was missing in the original game. More characters are in which range from some of your favorites from past games. Various character tweaks to balance out the gameplay this time around are for the better as Capcom did a job for the most part of making this fair with no one character dominating as low-tier characters struggle to get things going as each character still be dangerous in their own way. The story is not as bad going through arcade mode with the various characters as the endings make somewhat sense for some. The online experience, however, is improved significantly with more modes like endless and team battles and community features with the replay channel that will keep players busy for weeks, months, and maybe even years especially with each character getting their own ranking level along with your own overall ranking. The amazing thing is that all of this is 40 dollars as you could not ask for a better deal for that. Even if at standard price, it is still worth it even though most of the game is a year older. If you are at least interested in Street Fighter or fighting games at the slightest bit, Super Street Fighter IV comes under the highest recommendation as you could not thought Capcom can make it better, but they did, which is truly an amazing feat for today's standards.

Score = 10/10

  • 10 new characters and they're as much fun to play as the original cast. There is always someone in that roster that will fit your playstyle.
  • The gameplay changes like various balance tweaks and the addition of the second ultras make things way more deeper learning the matchups.
  • The online experience has significantly improved with more modes, better matchmaking, and replays.
  • Graphics and music remain unchanged, but the new tracks and improved presentation are superb too.
  • Uhhh... none unless you're not a fan of Street Fighter or the genre at all.

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