Street Fighter 4 (SF4) was released in February 2009 on the home consoles and was an immediate hit with fans of the series and fighting fans alike. With millions of online brawlers kicking each others virtual butt it was no suprise that Capcom would release additional content and cash in on the success. Its time to take the fight to the streets again, but can this expansion really warrant a purchase?
First off the game is an expansion rather than a full sequel of the game. It is now available at a wallet friendly €34 which is a around a third cheaper than all brand new releases on PS3 and Xbox360.
The game brings back all 25 fighters from SF4 and adds another 10 fighters to the roster. T Hawk and Dee Jay return from Super Street Fighter 2 turbo (these 2 were original planned for sf4 but were cut out due to time constraints). Adon returns from the original Street Fighter along along with Cody and Guy from the Final Fight series. Dudley, Ibuki and Makoto make a return from Street Fighter 3. The final 2 characters are brand new to the franchise and they come in the form of Juri (a south korean woman that will kick your ass Tae Kwon Do style) and Hakan (a Turkish oil wrestler with some very strange and peculiar move sets!) All the characters are unlocked from the get go and allows everyone to jump straight in and find their preferred player of choice. Its a welcome addition, especially after the tedious SF4 secret player unlocking!
All the new characters make the transition to the Street Fighter Universe flawlessly, all with their various strengths and weakness carefully tweaked by Capcom to ensure good balance between the fighters. One thing i have noticed is that some of the previous super powered characters have been toned down a little to make them a little more fair as well as the strengths of some Ultras been reduced to dish out less damage.
The gameplay mechanics remain relatively unchanged with the same 6 button setup we have grown to love. The focus attacks are flexible enough to help unleash some trully spectacular combos when used properly and can also help cancel out enemies attacks. One major change is the inclusion of an additional Ultra for all the characters. Before each battle players are given the option to chose one of the 2 Ultras per character, similar to the super arts selection in Street Fighter 3. This is a wonderful addition to the game as it changes your game strategy significantly depending on the Ultra attack you choose.
The graphics of the game are solid with well animated 3d models of all the fighters. The expressions on their fighters face are a nice touch as each hit actually “feels” painful to them. Not much has changed graphically from SF4 with the same “cell chaded” look the characters exhibit, but Ryus second Ultra is definately a sight to behold and proves that keeping the 3D fighters on the 2D plain is as effective as ever! The new stages are all very well designed with nice little touches in the background, if you have the time to observe them in the flurry of attacks from your opponent. Characters now have 2 secondary costumes options however they need to bought from PSN/XBOX Live, but if you have already purchased them from SF4 they will automatically appear for your characters to use. Additionally if you have game save data from SF4 you receive as a bonus 2 additional player colours, similar to the hand drawn “ink” style of the intro.
Another great addition Capcom have added is the ability for players to choose the remixed sound tracks of the older games in the series. The sounds feel very fresh yet comfortably familiar to the “old school” versions of them. Im sure that fans of the series would appreciate that.
Finally the online component of the game has improved dramatically. Matches are now easier to find on line and the games match making system rarely finds laggy connections. Ive only encountered 1 game so far that was slightly laggy but no where near as some rounds in the predecessor.
3 new modes have been added to online play. Endless battle brings together 8 players in a lobby where the winner stays on playing the other 7 challengers. All the rest can observe the game taking place and chat via their headsets. It works extremely well and is a faithful reminder of old school arcade days when everyone was crowded around the screen awaiting their turn!
The second mode is the team battle where up to 6 players are split up into 2 teams. Its similar to the King of Fighters series where one character in the team can beat the 3 players in the other team if he/she is good enough. My only complaint about this mode is that its not available offline. Its a shame really because it works well with strangers online, it would logically work well with 5 of your friends at home.
The 3rd mode is the Replay channel. Fights are saved online so you can view yours or other players online battles from all over the world. This is a great addition to the game as you can view A,B,C or D class fighters bouts and observe different strategies the best players use. My only gripe is that the search function is a limited but nonetheless its interesting to see how you fare against others.
The Player Point (PP) system from SF4 is the same with you receiving more points from defeating someone with more points than you and vice versa. But Capcom have included a secondary point system which better reflects online players abilities with certain characters. The new Battle Points (BP) are awarded to players who use the same character online. So for example if you are a good Ryu player and a horrible Blanka Player- you will have higher points for Ryu and lower for Blanka. This points are displayed as you play online and are a good indication of onlines players abilities with certain characters. This is by far the best system used in any fighting games and i suspect other future games will definately be inspired by this simple yet effective system.
If you never like the series before there is little in here to re-kindle your taste in the game however Super Street Fighter 4 is a brilliantly put together package that offers fans of the series alot of bang for their buck especially at its reduced price. All the new players fit in well in the games mechanics and the characters have been tweeked to balance the game even further. Online battles are as competitive and fun as ever and the improvements in the match making ensure good connections and finding players of equal levels to your own. Every 1 on 1 fighting game fan out there should give it a go, you wont regret it!
[xrr rating=4/5 label=”My Game Rating”]
+ Improved Online Play
+ Great new characters
+ Reduced price for the game
+ Ryu’s second ultra!
– Team battle not available offline
– Having to buy those dreaded secondary costumes (they should be free Capcom!)
– Getting beat by someone online (yeah i know im a sore loser!)
SF4 is now available on PS3 and Xbox!