SSFIV: Steroids, Ultras, Gouken: Drug Lord.
Back in the old days, when street fighter was but a simple game about people in funny and sometimes homo-erotic costumes, beating the living crap out of each other, and gameboy screens were a weird blend of black, green and grey, I had my first real fighter experience. It was fun, and only had a handful of characters. This is the way I imagined these games would always be, as other titles, such as Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat, had a low count of characters and a very fun mode of play.
And then life happened, I dropped off the gaming grid for a few years, only really playing games that I had time for. Picking up this game, from the advice of a friend, I placed it in my Xbox and wondered would it make me feel the way I did when I was young?
....short answer: No....
....Long answer: If I had to play one game that made me look back on my childhood and think "why were green pixel people better than modern, hi-def people at beating the crap into each other?" then something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Now don't get me wrong, I can see the appeal, but it baffles me to see the amount of people that have flocked to this game. In truth, and this will piss a lot of people off...this game is not very enjoyable.
*pause for anger*
Now hear me out. SSFIV, taken from an objective standpoint, is a very, very good game. Graphically, it holds its own, giving a very dynamic cel-shaded style that makes it very easy on the eye. The stages are well designed, and the level of detail on the warriors and in the backgrounds would make you weep. This right here is how you make a game pretty, yet functional...or so it should seem.
As a fighting game, there really isn't any point in delving into a story, so lets just say that the arcade mode is just a bunch of fights, and you get some new colours for your clothes, and new titles for your online bragging rights as a result of completing it. The versus mode is classic, you can play against characters of your choice and even pit yourself against an opponent the old fashioned way, sitting next to each other in the same room! *gasp* I know right? Sounds ancient! The online modes are really what people are into, ranging from simple ranked, one on one matches, to tournaments, and even Endless battles, pitting multiple players against each other. This is quite fun, as you can keep fighting in circles of friends and outsiders and always see the upsets and the major twists in the fights, as there is a spectator mode for those not fighting. Really, this game is filled to the brim with content for everyone, even having a challenge mode where you learn how to execute moves and combos, along with a classic training room where you can refresh your memory on how to use certain attacks.
The character roster has expanded, giving a player the choice of up to 35 characters, 25 classics, and 10 new guys. While some of these characters are pretty fun to play as, such as Abel, being an oddity in a game full of fireball throwing, steroid-ingesting maniacs, there are more than a few characters that I have to shake my head at....a Turkish oil-wrestler? A guy made out of metal with a freaking magic engine in his chest? Gouken and his king-of-the-'roids muscle tone, despite his advanced years? Now they're just playing with us.
Controls are, in a nutshell, a mixed bag. They can vary between characters, ranging from easy to execute moves, like Ken's flamey-spinning kick of death, to Ibuki's Matrix-style flips and knife throws, but these are Ultra moves. You see, Ultra moves are what Capcom invented when they got a little too into their art style, introducing something so bizarre and ridiculous, that it can take over half the health of an opponent. Said moves are used when you've taken a bit of a beating, filling up your 'Revenge Gauge'. A sometimes simple, oftentimes complex beyond reason button input, and you can rip a hole in the universe, and murder whoever you're fighting...ok so that's a slight exaggeration, but its pretty much the case. Super moves, a weaker form of the Ultra moves, can be built every time you land a punch, filling the EX Gauge, a gauge that can be also be used to power up special moves your characters can do. Super moves allow you to turn the tide of battle when you need it most, and sit in the unpopular corner with Ultra moves, in my opinion.
So really and truly, I haven't been hard on this game, its fair to say that I've given all avenues of thought consideration while writing this. Now, what is my issue with this game? What makes it stick in my throat when I mention it to anyone? Why does it leave a bitter aftertaste, no matter how well I may do while playing it?
It’s actually quite simple. This game, like so many others as of late, just can't deliver on what it’s promising. Combat feels slow, with all of the previous games' characters developing muscles that only signify Gouken being a genius dealer, and the moves seem overly complex, and don't work with the Xbox controller. At times, I found myself simple trying to block a low kick, only to find that I could do nothing, and had to simply take the hit. The odd thing is, that offline, in the training mode, when switching the AI to hostile, I could block low without an issue. In the arcade mode, and the online modes, I found myself getting pummelled all because the block function wouldn't work. Sitting down afterward, I began to think why this could be? And then, one day, it just clicked! This game cannot and will not register movements unless they are done in such a particularly nitpicky and irritating way, that the player has to learn by trial and error what angle they have to point the control stick at in order to block. The same can be said for Super and Ultra moves, as more often than not, the first Ultra move you pick, will be the exact same input initially, lets say, quarter circle (x2), followed by a string of punches or kicks. The game automatically registers that you are doing the super move first, and will execute that move, instead of the one you really need. This leads to the player feeling frustrated, as they cannot execute a single move because of a simple issue with input coding. This really signifies what is wrong with putting too much into a fighter. It leaves some of the moves that should be easy almost inaccessible, and prevents players from accessing the full range of moves they should have from the beginning of the game, unless they play for hours and hours and attempt to learn every half-assed coding error correction in the games repertoire of annoying stuffed up control scheme. This avenue was not one I wanted to partake in. I play games for fun, and at first glance, it does seem as such. Yet underneath the veneer of fancy graphics, and shiny moves, there is a mess of half-baked ideas and less than satisfactory programming, that many believe either doesn't exist, which is fine, each to their own, I'm cool with that, or those who see it and just choose to ignore it, because, and lets face it....its a freaking Capcom game...to sum this up: timing between input and attacks is too slow at times, and can work in the opposite direction of also being processed too fast, leaving the player confused on how he/she just executed Akuma's Ultra move.
One other issue I have is that there is no real ranking system for players online. Someone may have logged months of offline play, only to come online and waste the competition of people who have been playing online without any issue. At times there are people who straight out spam the bejaisus out of ranged attacks, or in Zangief's case, a spinning attack that, once executed in a corner, is a nightmare to get out of. The balance just feels all wrong to me. It isn't enough that there are some powerful characters, that have little to no limits on how much damage they can do in a single punch, but there are some amazing characters that fall by the wayside because they don't have an array of moves that other characters may have. Some are strong and can take a beating, some are weak and are easily knocked out, some are far too strong and quick to counter, while some are slow, and sluggish, and simply shouldn't be. This mish-mash of characters makes you wonder how far over the limits of selection developers have gone in order to make a balanced experience for all involved impossible. Back in the day, we had such a small selection of characters that you had to really know what you're doing in order to win. Now we have an array of moves and balance issues that make skill a thing of the past. I know that getting people who have never been into fighters introduced to the genre in an accessible way is a major concern for the developers, but honestly now, shit or get off the pot. You either make a fighting game like this, or you make a fighting game that uses all the stats a player has acquired to balance the online play, so that new players can slowly progress through the ranks and learn as they do so. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it has to be.
This game falls short of expectations by not embracing the old saying: "Too many cooks spoil the broth". It is a good game, but borders above average for its sloppy control registration, the lack of balance, and the overall sluggish feel it has surrounding the combat system.
A good game, if you enjoy fighters, buy it, but be warned, irritation and confusion are right around the corner. It’s a great game to play with friends.
- Nice Graphics
- Good use of backgrounds
- Character models are very well detailed
- Some Ultra moves look very nice
- A lot of interesting multiplayer modes
- Lack of balance between characters
- Sluggish in-game combat
- Lack of overall stat-utilized online matchmaking
- Control Input is confusing and touchy
- Multiplayer can have lag-based issues for one player and not another.
WTF? Moment: Seriously, every guy is on steroids and every girl has thunder-thighs? Also, Dee Jay....possibly one of the most racist representations of any race since Resident Evil 4's Shiva....wait a second....oh Capcom!
Edit: Just to explain the balance in combat a little better: When I play a fighting game, I expect the ability to use normal combos to be the main form of fighting. I find that having Ryu/Ken use their spinning kicks, followed by Shoryuken, left a bitter taste in my mouth, as I wasn't stringing together any real combos. The fighting system itself pushes your character back after every punch and kick, and it makes it difficult to fully connect a regular combo. Super and Ultra moves, in this context, along with special moves, are in fact not optional, they're necessary, which saddens me, because now there are no normal ways of connecting physical combos without a special, super or ultra move to make up the largest section of the combo. And just on Ultra moves for a moment: Ultra moves are far too overpowered, they should have been used as a mechanic to balance a one sided match, or to leave each player on equal footing. This is not the case. Learning the Ultra and then using it on an already weakened enemy is just how things work in this game, but it still doesn't sit any better with me. What happened to the days when it didn't matter how powerful your special moves were, because it too some form of skill to connect normal attacks together? Every move in this game requires an insane button combination, running involves a button combination. This disgusts me. There are limits to using quarter circle moves, and taking a special move away to replace it with a simple act like running, something that should be present in all fighting games, makes me wonder just how much of a piss take this game is. With no system in place that limits the use of Special, Super and Ultra moves, this game just seems rediculous by comparison to other fighters. It relies to heavily on a form of combat that just requires the same button input, instead of allowing the player to form their own combo attacks normally, without the help of extra moves.