Rants & Raves: Thoughts on Street Fighter IV Series

Posted by midnightgreen20 (65 posts) -

With the release of Ultra Street Fighter IV, I think it's about time that I finally give my opinion on the series that has become quite popular among those who play fighting games today. If you do play fighting games, you will most likely encounter people who absolutely love the game and will tell you how great it is. But is it really worth all of the hype in the end? Actually, it isn't. To be completely honest, I feel that the Street Fighter IV series is total crap for anyone who loves fighting games and that you are much better off never touching the game at all. I have a bunch of reasons for this.

The game is so damn slow. Characters move at a snail's pace on the stage, and combos take an eternity to end. The combos aren't even that long in terms of moves either. It's just that all moves come out so slowly so by default combos are also rather slow. In almost all fighting games before it, an element of speed was present, forcing you to make your decisions quickly and requiring quick reflexes. In SFIV, you don't need any of that. You can see things coming a mile away, go grab a drink, and then come back and still react in time.

The roster of the game is way too big. It's great fan service to have so many characters spanning so many games into an all-star mix of 44, but in the end it doesn't do the game much good. Every Street Fighter series had different mechanics and the characters from those games were built specifically to take advantage of those. Taking them away from that and shoving them into SFIV in a good number of cases has ruined the character, or just made them feel like an empty shell of what they once were.

By far my biggest gripe with the game is just how offense works in it. Or rather, there is a lack of actual offense and more of just pointless jabbing at each other in hopes of getting a counter hit. So the way that the game goes is quite simple. You use jabs to set up a few different things, all of which are low risk/low or medium reward. You either use a slower move in order to score a counter hit off of frame advantage, you use their tendency to block against them by throwing them, or you just let them throw out a reversal and punish. There isn't really much more to that. The worst part about it all is that on offense, you don't have much risk to take in any of this at all. A lot of it is safe in the fact that jabs and other light attacks are really safe on block, giving you enough frame advantage to do just about whatever after, and the only real way to get out on defense is to throw out a reversal. With a real lack of options on both ends, matches get really stale quickly and truly creative moments are extremely rare.

Getting in on your opponent is also quite boring as well. Basically all it comes down to is both opponents throw out moves left and right, and when one of them hits, you're in. But there isn't much complexity to it. What it mainly comes down to is some timing and prediction. If you can't get in with a normal attack, then you just use a special move to do the work for you. Or perhaps you jump just at the right time. This aspect of the game feels more of an act of attrition than a good, solid fight to see who scores the first hit because the only thing you have to counter this is either hit them or block. I have fallen in love with 3rd Strike, and one great thing about that game is how any attack is a potential opening for you to parry it and score a combo. That isn't to say it isn't the case with SFIV, but rather it's a much more limited case of whiff punishing with the occasional special to beat it out. In 3rd Strike, everyone has the option to parry, so you need to be really careful about pressing buttons no matter who you are fighting. The same gripes I have with the neutral game also apply to what you do on an opponent's knockdown, because again it is a matter of having very few options that ultimately are stacked against the one who is on defense. All you really have are throws, moves to beat crouch techs, avoid reversal, or punish backdash. It is a small amount of options that doesn't allow for smart, creative offense in comparison to other fighters out there.

When it comes to combos and dealing out damage, SFIV really lacks in that department. Basic combos consist of linking normals and finishing with a special. If you have some meter, you FADC for additional damage on the follow up. If you have to dish out lots of damage, then you need to wait until you have an ultra available to you. Most of the meter is saved for EX specials in some situations or for FADC, not to mention the amount of meter you have is rather small. It's a real shame because the moments that you do open up an opponent, it's for relatively smaller damage. Then again, because offense is rather simple in this game, you could just whittle away an opponent's health rather than take 2 or 3 good reads and win the round in a matter of seconds. That could happen in SFIV, but it is far more less likely and usually entails having plenty of meter to burn from the previous round. A lot of damage may also just come from pokes hitting their mark, with both people just taking swing after swing at each other, not really going anywhere but getting small life leads in the process.

I just feel like SFIV is far from as great as what most people say it is. Oversimplified offense that comes at a slow pace and doesn't bear much consequence due to little damage does not make a great fighting game. Having a comeback mechanic in ultras only punishes the one in the lead for all of the hard work they put in by giving the opponent the opportunity to mount a quick comeback in one combo, which is something that is not available if you're on the offensive and winning. The neutral game relies too heavily on either a normal attack hitting as a whiff punish or counter hit, or using specials to get in. In the end I find that the Street Fighter IV series has just been a total disappointment and in some ways have lowered the standards of fighting games. It was designed to be a simpler game that would appeal to the masses and it surely succeeded in doing so. The problem is, as a competitive game it leaves little to be truly desired and for better or worse will shape the future fighting games for the next several years.

#1 Edited by StarvingGamer (8284 posts) -

Just a few things:

  • Attacks in KoFXIII, USFIV, and UMvC3 all have around the same startup, ranging from 3-10 for most attacks
  • A typical BnB combo in USFIV sans Ultra takes around 3-4 seconds. A typical combo with Ultra takes around 8 seconds. A typical HD combo in KoFXIII takes around 15 seconds. A typical combo in UMvC3 takes 15-30 seconds.
  • Parries essentially eliminated zoning from SFIII
  • I'd love to hear which characters in USFIV you think are "ruined", unless you're talking about Honda and Sim who actually belong in USFIV by your assessment
  • Fuerte can kill you with a single combo-into-reset with 0 meter
  • Last I checked, one player getting Ultra first (losing) doesn't stop the other player from getting their Ultra as well

Anyways, if you can't appreciate the neutral game, maybe USFIV isn't for you, but you're simply wrong with a lot of your criticisms.

EDIT: Attacks in BBCP tend to have slower startup, ranging from 5-13 for most attacks. Attacks in MK9 typically range from 7-16.

#2 Posted by cmblasko (1253 posts) -

I'm coming at this from a non-competitive level (never attended a tournament) and haven't been remotely "good" at SF4 since around the time Super came out, just to offer some perspective on my feedback.

The game is so damn slow. Characters move at a snail's pace on the stage, and combos take an eternity to end. The combos aren't even that long in terms of moves either. It's just that all moves come out so slowly so by default combos are also rather slow. In almost all fighting games before it, an element of speed was present, forcing you to make your decisions quickly and requiring quick reflexes. In SFIV, you don't need any of that. You can see things coming a mile away, go grab a drink, and then come back and still react in time.

I find the opposite to be true; for me, block strings in this game happen so fast that it becomes difficult to react properly to them. If you are talking about general movement speed being slow then I would agree. I am probably considered old in competitive gaming terms (27) so this is probably just me.

The roster of the game is way too big. It's great fan service to have so many characters spanning so many games into an all-star mix of 44, but in the end it doesn't do the game much good. Every Street Fighter series had different mechanics and the characters from those games were built specifically to take advantage of those. Taking them away from that and shoving them into SFIV in a good number of cases has ruined the character, or just made them feel like an empty shell of what they once were.

Totally agree. There are so many characters that play similarly which renders them redundant. Do we really need Zangief, T. Hawk AND Hugo in the same game?

Having a comeback mechanic in ultras only punishes the one in the lead for all of the hard work they put in by giving the opponent the opportunity to mount a quick comeback in one combo, which is something that is not available if you're on the offensive and winning.

Again, totally agree. The rubber banding in SF4 is ridiculous, especially for a competitive-focused game. The idea that each hit successfully landed puts you at more and more at a disadvantage (opponent gets Ultra and you do less damage) seems counter-intuitive to me. I understand why it works that way - to produce tense situations at the end of a round - but I don't agree with it.

In the end I find that the Street Fighter IV series has just been a total disappointment and in some ways have lowered the standards of fighting games. It was designed to be a simpler game that would appeal to the masses and it surely succeeded in doing so. The problem is, as a competitive game it leaves little to be truly desired and for better or worse will shape the future fighting games for the next several years.

I don't know, seems like the people who were good at previous Street Fighters are just as good at 4. Just like any other game those who put in time will be better than those who don't.

What are some of your favorite fighting games besides SF3, OP?

#3 Posted by churrific (482 posts) -

Lol it kind of just sounds like you want to play 3S, which is great, but you don't have to poopoo SFIV on your way there. Alot of the VERY overgeneralized things you mention as negatives (which there are plenty of in-game examples to counter with), I find to be positives and contribute to why I like the game. Also yes, like StarvingGamer said, parrying essentially eliminated zoning from SFIII. That almost made all 3S matches look the same.

#4 Edited by egg (1469 posts) -

I think we're overlooking the main problem with SF4 which is that its a fighting game, and therefore doesn't contain movelists in the manual, and because it forces players to take turns pausing the game to see their movelists because it doesn't simultaneously show both for some reason even though Tekken games do.

SF4 is a fighting game and therefore isn't a game, but rather homework. Research moves on the internet, practice combos in training mode, etc. Why bother playing? You will never get better if you play. lol who the hell is stupid enough to get a fighting game with the intention of playing it.

#5 Posted by StarvingGamer (8284 posts) -

@cmblasko: Gief, Hawk, and Hugo are massively different characters if you bother to go beyond spinning the stick and mashing buttons.

Ultra combos and Guts would only be rubberbanding if only the losing player got access to them.

#6 Posted by Baillie (4194 posts) -

I think your problem is you've never been in too many high level matches, or your just not at that level. You're arguments seemsud, but when you go in deep, a lot of unexpected shit can happen. Tell the terrible offence argument to Akuma and Seth.

#7 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5554 posts) -

SFIV is extremely difficult to play at the highest levels and at least with Ultra it's not as slow as it used to be; the inputs are generally a bit easier than KoF's but no one plays KoF so that doesn't necessarily matter. Marvel inputs are a different style so I don't think they're inherently comparable, same thing with MK9/Injustice.

If we're talking average players SFIV is fine, not great, not terrible; certainly nothing phenomenally amazing; but it does bring out the best in Japanese people at least. Fighting games are always a little bit luck/guess based but "skill tiers" as it were are largely impassable so it doesn't matter that much (so the 4-5 best western players have a very small chance of winning EVO for example, based largely on their ability to "guess" correctly or make their opponent guess incorrectly; Eastern top players just don't make the same errors that Western top players do on a consistent basis). Though if you compare it to SC2 which is another absurdly difficult game to get into it is actually theoretically possible to play perfectly in SC2 and just win based on nothing but skill, but in fighting games it's like 90-95% skill in the best circumstances. Now that's still a lot better than most "e-sports" (e.g. it looks like Hearthstone is poised to be number 2 or 3, that's like 30-50% luck most of the time assuming you have comparable decks).

Street Fighter IV is somewhat overrated except for watching the best players go at it, Momochi beating Kazunoko (3-2, 3-2) with a low-middle tier character vs a top tier character was incredible; but most matches aren't that interesting and there is a huge rift between mid level tournament players, high level tournament players, and the highest level of tournament players.

#8 Posted by ViciousBearMauling (1118 posts) -

You either use a slower move in order to score a counter hit off of frame advantage, you use their tendency to block against them by throwing them, or you just let them throw out a reversal and punish. There isn't really much more to that.

What it mainly comes down to is some timing and prediction. If you can't get in with a normal attack, then you just use a special move to do the work for you. Or perhaps you jump just at the right time.

The neutral game relies too heavily on either a normal attack hitting as a whiff punish or counter hit, or using specials to get in.

It seems like you lack appreciation and knowledge of the neutral game.

You seem to want SF4 to just be 3S, with it's parrying mechanic allowing quick turnarounds in a match. I LOVE 3S, it was my first serious fighting game, but it really fell apart at it's highest level.


#9 Posted by Lothars (42 posts) -

@midnightgreen20: I fully disagree with you in total, To me you sound like one of those elitist players that prefered SF3 and shit totally on SF4 for pretty bad reasons and I pretty much think you are offbase with your remarks about SF4 and haven't given it a fair chance.

#10 Posted by musclerider (589 posts) -

Getting in on your opponent is also quite boring as well. Basically all it comes down to is both opponents throw out moves left and right, and when one of them hits, you're in. But there isn't much complexity to it. What it mainly comes down to is some timing and prediction.

You know, like in fighting games.

#11 Posted by cmblasko (1253 posts) -

Gief, Hawk, and Hugo are massively different characters if you bother to go beyond spinning the stick and mashing buttons.

Ultra combos and Guts would only be rubberbanding if only the losing player got access to them.

1. How are they different? Again, I am not knowledgeable about the game at a high level, so their game plans seem very similar to me.

2. You're right, I didn't think that through.

#12 Posted by Vuud (2013 posts) -

I've been trying to get into SF4 and wonder if there's any reason at all to pick someone other than Ryu or Ken.

I get frustrated because I always feel like I should be doing something, like I should never be sitting still I should always be fucking up the other guy.

#13 Edited by StarvingGamer (8284 posts) -

Actually, given your love for 3rd strike, it's somewhat hilarious that at-a-glance the startup for a majority of Ryu's normals is actually faster in USFIV. Granted, most normals also have significantly more recovery, but weren't you complaining about how there was too little risk in USFIV offense? Whereas in 3rd Strike you could wiff normals until the cows came home (unless you were dumb/Kuroda and played a character like Q) without any fear of repercussion.

@cmblasko said:

@starvinggamer said:

Gief, Hawk, and Hugo are massively different characters if you bother to go beyond spinning the stick and mashing buttons.

How are they different? Again, I am not knowledgeable about the game at a high level, so their game plans seem very similar to me.

In the broadest sense, Gief tends to excel in footsies, Hawk tends to focus more on rushing down, and Hugo excels in limiting mobility and corner control.

#14 Posted by ThunderSlash (1752 posts) -

Third Strike is my favorite of the Street Fighter games, but SF4 is alright too.

#15 Edited by Hitzel (116 posts) -

It's pretty clear to me that the OP doesn't like/appreciate footsies or the neutral game in SFIV or maybe in general.

SFIV has some slow animations compared to older 2D games but I don't think it harms gameplay.

I personally stopped playing SFIV in favor of UMvC3 because years later I still haven't been able to learn how to do links. In Marvel I feel like I am in control of my character. I guess it's worth noting that since the execution barrier was too much for me.

#16 Edited by Damodar (1402 posts) -

I think all the pace of Street Fighter IV does is make it a bit more granular. There is more room for minutiae in spacing etc.

You say it lowered the standards of fighting games, but I think it saved them. Even if you don't like it, I don't think we'd be having the genre renaissance we're having now if SF4 hadn't revitalised it.

#17 Edited by HurricaneIvan29 (594 posts) -

Haven't read the post yet, but had to comment on that Dawkins avatar! Weapon X baby!

#18 Posted by midnightgreen20 (65 posts) -

@cmblasko: I really dig the Tekken series a lot. I've been playing TTT2 recently on top of 3S and find it fun. I also really like Alpha 2, though that's kinda hard to get your hands on a copy of that besides finding it in the arcade or emulation. I'm really hoping for an HD update of it. I also dabble in KOF as well. Game is pretty cool.

Just to make things clear, I've played the SF4 series for about 2 years and didn't play 3S until AFTER I played that. I also have gone to tournaments and have faced some of the top players like Ricky Ortiz, Sanford Kelly, and Snake Eyes to name a few. So yes I have played some high level players and that didn't change my opinion of the game one bit. If you are so eager to know about what I like about 3S, you'll just have to wait for my next blog post where I actually will talk more about that!

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.