Saturday, July 26

Game: Street Fighter 4 (ARC)

I've written about my relationship with Street Fighter before, so I won't bore you with all the details about just how good I (think I) am. At the very least I think I'm qualified to give an informed opinion about any new releases in the wider 2D fighting genre.

Street Fighter 4 is an awesome game. Unlike 3 which I pretty much hated (although it was received by others as good evolution of the series), SF4 has delivered on its promise of being as accessible as possible to veteran SF2 heads. In fact if you really want to you can play it like you did SF2, and reuse all the same combos and strategies from the 17 year old game. Having said that, it does have a clear basis in EX - with big pauses during hits within which to link, cancel or pick whatever other direction you'd want to take the combo in.

But playing 4 like 2 won't get you very far really; there's too many new features that your opponents will be leveraging over you. We have new characters, focus breaks/parries, EX specials, and a new revenge bar fuelling super fancy Ultra Combos. Other trivial yet important changes include having to throw with two lights attacks, being able to cancel moves into supers, and a lack of counters (although the focus mechanism makes a good substitute).

Once I had got my three in a row winning streak with Ken, I decided to check out some of the other characters. Good work appears to have been done here too - for once I didn't hate them (T Hawk anyone?). C. Viper was cool, El Fuerte and Rufus hilarious. All were hugely accessible and fun to play with and I was pulling off their more complex moves pretty easily.

Which pretty much sums up the game for me as a whole - accessible enough to have immediate fun with but with more than enough depth to reward long term play. For instance although I managed to link in a few Ultras, I never once cancelled into one.

I'll definitely be buying this for the 360 once it's been released. In the meantime I'll go shopping for a Hori stick. Maybe.

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