Street Fighter IV: Game of the Year Edition
treet Fighter IV is really freakin' awesome. Not only did it make it to my top three games of last year, but it's one that I have consistently jumped back to time and time again. Whenever folks mention it, I get this craving and just have to go play even if it's just for a few matches. So here we are a year later and Capcom has tacked on a "Super" to their Street Fighter IV. The game at its core is essentially the same, so if you'd like to read a review on that part, you may as well look back a year and check out the one I wrote back then. This review will focus on the new additions and changes to the game instead of just rehashing what I wrote previously.
To start, how about we talk about the negative stuff? That new announcer is pretty weak. If you're paying attention to him, he's trying way too hard to be totally extreme. If you're not trying to hear though, at least he fades into the periphery and is barely noticeable. We've now also got a 35 fighter roster which can make the character select screen a bit intimidating for newcomers. Oh, and Hakan is totally weird and they completely removed my favoritest song ever, Indestructible by The Next Door.
In case one of the original 25 characters wasn't doing it for you, now they've added ten additional fighters and all of them are unlocked from the start. Eight of these are from past Street Fighter games, and two are completely new to the series. All of the fighters now have an additional Ultra move that can be selected prior to the start of the fight, unless you're in arcade mode where you'll just pick it and stick with it. These new ultras are generally quite different from the existing ones, giving the defender just a little more to worry about when looking to dodge, and some of the new ultras can be followed up with additional moves. I honestly would have liked to have seen these both available during the match instead of having to choose one ahead of time, but they do add another degree of variance to an already complex engine.
The ten characters alone would probably be enough for this to exist as an expansion, however Capcom has decided to go the extra mile and address just about every single complaint players had. The entire roster has been tweaked for balance and timing. Despite developer commentary that Seth would be even more ruthless this time around, I found him much easier with significantly reduced damage being dealt. Even on the hardest difficulty, he fell after only one continue which is nothing like what I experienced previously.
Online multiplayer is the biggest change and everything is for the better. Instead of just having the 1v1 Ranked and Player match "lobbies", we've got Ranked, Endless, and Team Battle. Ranked is now a mild combination of what we found in the tournament DLC from SFIV and ranked, complete with an improved point system, double blind character select, and letter grading for competitors. You'll be happy to know also that quick match performs as quick match should. Instead of giving you a list of three possible games to join, the system attempts to place you directly into the best match. You'll still experience a "cannot join match" error, but it is certainly less frequent. One really subtle but awesome change is that the game will remember your previous character choice during multiplayer, making the character select go just a hair quicker.
Next up is the new 'Player Match' in the form of Endless Mode and Team Battle. While these won't contribute to your overall ranking, these are the things that players were looking for previously. Endless is basically the quarter match from Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, where up to eight players may join a session and wait for their turn to fight. Winner stays, loser pays. The good thing here is that a lobby can be created with all private slots and be joined while already in progress, so if you're waiting for some friends, you can get in a few matches. If you're waiting, you won't be looking at a blank screen though, you'll be able to spectate the game that's going on. Team Battle allows groups of two, three, or four to face off in a similar winner-stays style until one team is completely defeated. Both of these sate the desires planted by the shoddy original iteration.
If you didn't like Street Fighter IV, there's really nothing here that will change your mind. While it is a bit disappointing that this is a full retail item that will certainly split the userbase, if you're an existing fan there's just about zero reason to not buy this. Capcom has released a truly monumental update to the best fighting game in years which will certainly keep it truckin' long into the future.
- Tons of thoughtful improvements to an already phenominal experience.
- Overhauled online options create the experience we were all hoping for.
- Still infinitely replayable.
- The announcer is new, and bad.
- A split userbase may mean only the hardcore will come to the new land. Better kick up your game.
- Yeah, T. Hawk is still an annoying prick.