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Street Fighter IV April 29, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Video Games.
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As much as I was eager to get a copy of Street Fighter IV, it wasn’t without apprehension. The last time I touched a fighting game — something I’ve never been particularly good at, mind — was years ago, and regardless of the franchise they seem to simply get more and more complicated with each iteration. As a matter of fact, just looking through the manual when I did get my hands on a copy of the game was enough to make my head spin. So many moves to learn and relearn! New characters! A tweaked battle system! With yet to try it out, I already felt way over my head.

Nonetheless I soldiered on, popped it into the Xbox and sat back preparing to be overwhelmed. Which I was. Because quite frankly, the game is magic.

A quick search online will easily reveal what most anyone who’s taken this latest addition to Capcom’s popular franchise through its paces already knows: Street Fighter IV is awesome. To begin with, it’s eye candy, what with updated character designs and everything that next-gen graphics have to offer. The level of detail is a marvel to behold, both on the characters (Sagat and Zangief, in particular, have never looked better) and in the design of each stage. The battle system goes back to basics and is more akin to Street Fighter II, albeit with some improvements (the EX moves and revenge gauge, for example) and adjustments (the timings aren’t quite the same as SFII) to make the game at once familiar and challenging for both old hands (such as myself) and the uninitiated (presumably). Oh, and the CG FMVs? You gotta be kiddin’ me. They’re too good. So much so that every time you start up the game you just have to take a few minutes to worship at the altar of the opening sequence. Each. And. Every. Single. Damn. Time.

Of course, some parts of the game I don’t particularly care for. For instance, rather than the four new characters, why not just go with others from the franchise’s history? Granted, these new ones add variety, but really only two have half-decent backstories. Also, the game makes use of the usual method of unlocking additional game characters — beat the game with every single one! — which is really far too monotonous. Also, while the challenge modes are plenty interesting, I feel they’re overly skewed in favor of players that can invest in a arcade-style fighting stick. And so on, to name but a few.

But the parts of the game I care for? Wow. I’m totally sold. More, online play via Xbox Live is utterly rewarding, poor internet connection speeds notwithstanding. The bottomline: SFIV’s a keeper. Let the games begin.

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