Street Fighter IV represents a welcome return to form for the famous fighting game.
Street Fighter III was a hard sell for both fans of the series and new challengers alike. While the legendary Street Fighter II was a global phenomenon that launched action figures, aniamted shows, and a wonderfully cheesy live-action movie, the series' third installment was much less popular than Capcom had hoped.
Thankfully, Street Fighter IV evens the playing field for a wide range of potential players with a spectacular fighting engine that creates an incredibly accessible experience.
Don't know how to parry attacks, juggle combo, or fire off an EX attack? To have a blast in SFIV, you don't have to - just pick up a controller, throw a punch, and let the good times roll in this easily accessible, yet equally deep brawling experience!
Street Fighter IV: one Hell of a show
With the exception of some lame anime cinematics in the game's arcade mode, the presentation in Street Fighter IV is simply incredible. The wide assortment of levels shines fantastically in vibrant 3D, with subtle touches and backgrounds details all adding to the fun.
Onlookers cheer in the background, set pieces collapse as fists fly, and shopping carts rattle with every earth-shattering blow.
These stylistic choices really give each match an extra bit of flair, and the specific details etched into each one of the redesigned levels from Street Fighter II are just brilliant, truly playing on gamers' nostalgia factors.
My favourite part about arcade mode is that each fighter is punctuated with custom win quotes, as well as a pre-selected Rival Fight against another World Warrior.
Those fights alone have more depth than some of the paper-thin stories put forth by the campy anime sequences, especially in the case of characters like El Fuerte and Crimson Viper.
Even the quality of the voice acting in these cut-scenes seems disturbingly random for such a highly stylised game, but many cinematics are thankfully skippable. I dare you - just try and make it through Blanka's story with a straight face.
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Street Fighter IV: parrying no more
While the World Warriors have been done in 3D before via the infamous EX series on the PlayStation, the blocky figures never quite captured the lively and often-times hilarious animations of their SFII counterparts.
It's not enough that the entire SFIV roster looks good, but their facial reactions during a relentless beatdown are absolutely hilarious.
Seeing my opponent's eyes pop out of their sockets after a brutal KO brought me back to those old glory days in the arcades. Speaking of which, pulling off a solid win in SFIV is nowhere near as difficult as it was in the oft-overlooked Street Fighter III.
Even though everyone's moves have been tweaked to fit the new battle system presented in SFIV, it still feels sweet, simple and best of all, natural.
One of the greatest aspects of SFIV's combat is undoubtedly the absence of parrying, replaced by Focus Attacks and EX moves. No matter what you do, you can never gain a complete advantage over another player simply because you're a tournament level Street Fighter maniac.
Focus Attacks aren't invincible, EX moves are easy to pull off and even button mashers will be able to rack up some damage as long as they know the difference between the face buttons and the joystick.
Heck, I even lost a round against someone who hadn't picked up a controller since the SNES days! But don't think SFIV is a button-masher's paradise - if you have skill, you definitely have an edge.
The inclusion of Ultra moves also eliminates the one glaring problem with most modern fighting games: once you fall behind, it's tough to catch up, much less win. With the new Revenge meter evening up the matches, one-sided fights can actually be won if the resulting Ultra moves are used judiciously.
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