Sunday, February 22

Game: Street Fighter IV (360) Click for more info

I was actually lucky enough to play this way back in July at Battle of Destiny; you can read my initial impressions here; in fact you should as I'll mainly be talking the specific console additions here.

The game is as great as it was back then. Not being capped by a maximum of three wins and a ten minute queue meant that I now have a deeper understanding of the game; focus attacks now play a major part of lulling people into a false sense of security, cancelling and chaining are now respective sciences rather than exploited bugs and the new characters are all deep in their own right. This game really is a masterpiece, and I can't wait to learn it's every detail.

It's also pretty much been made for home consoles. The 360 version is wonderful, running at a full 60fps at HD resolutions; any slowdown is deliberate, mainly for you to link in a super combo or two. Sound is also up to par with pumped up soundtracks doing their bit to encourage a fiery fight.

Versus mode is where I'll be spending most of my time. Unfortunately there still isn't a proper round robin manager - it would be so handy (perhaps just for me) to be able to enter names and get the CPU to assign controllers with winner-stays-on rules. Arcade mode is fun and exhilarating; until you meet the major **** that is Seth, the final boss. One word: cheap.

A challenge mode rounds off the single player experience, with further timed, survival and trial modes to hone your skills on (regular training is also available). Rewards are in the form of unlockable art, colours, tags and characters, the last of which is particularly frustrating. Live online play is supposed to be impressive, but my subscription has expired so I can't say for myself.

A note about controllers: I managed to procure two Hori sticks a while back in preparation for SFIV, and they're pretty great. I will say that they're not perfect - I do miss moves sometimes and get myself in a muddle as I lose the instructive muscle memory I had with SNES and PS pads. I'll add to that the the 360 pad isn't all that bad provided you use the analogue stick over the horrid d-pad.

Anyway SFIV is awesome. It's already a classic if the roars of pain given off both sides as someone makes a heroic comback are anything to go by and I can imagine many a late night playing this (perhaps I'll get my 100+ streak again?). It's a game I already want to invest time and effort into, a buck in the trend of me wanting to get through a game as fast as possible. Absolutely and utterly recommended.

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