Super Street Fighter IV – The PS3 Attitude Review
Capcom’s most popular fighting game franchise is known for two main reasons. Great gameplay and frequent revisions. Street Fighter IV hit consoles just over a year ago and revitalized the fighting game genre to an unprecedented level.
After a near 10 year hiatus, Street Fighter was relevant again. Whether you played casually or competitively, the response to Street Fighter IV was overwhelmingly positive. Capcom took a risk and it clearly paid off.
Unsurprisingly, Capcom announced that Super Street Fighter IV was in development last September. Unlike many of the previous iterations in the franchise, this was promised to be a significant upgrade.
So here we are. After months of build up and tons of hype, Super Street Fighter IV has arrived. Is there enough content in Super to justify an updated re-release?
The gameplay in Street Fighter IV took a step back from the complexities introduced in Street Fighter III. Capcom went back to its roots and tried to create an experience that closely resembled Street Fighter II. Aside from the 3D visuals, one of the most notable changes was the lack of a parry system. Instead, a new technique was introduced in SFIV. By pressing the Medium Punch and Medium Kick buttons at the same time, a character can activate their Focus Attack and this opens up the gameplay tremendously.
There are three levels to a Focus Attack, each dependent on how long you hold the two buttons for. The first level is a normal attack and it could crumple opponents if used as a counter hit. The second level will always make your opponent crumple if it hits (allowing for a follow up attack). If you hold the two buttons long enough you will execute the third level of a Focus Attack. This attack is unblockable, has armor breaking properties, and crumples the opponent when you hit them.
A Focus Attack can be used in a variety of ways. During the animation you are able to absorb a single attack and you won’t lose any health directly. Instead, your health meter changes color for the amount of damage you would have taken. The meter will recover as long as you don’t get hit again. If your opponent does manage to get an attack in, you are going to take damage. Absorbing an attack can come in handy when dealing with projectiles and strikes that can’t break armor.
You can also use Focus Attacks to cancel out moves in exchange for two segments of your Super Gauge. This allows you to link moves together in ways that were not possible before. While it’s not completely necessary to learn this tactic, neglecting this useful tool will limit what you can do in battle.
There are four segments to a Super Gauge. As you perform special moves and hit your opponent, the meter increases. Once it is fully charged you can attempt a Super Combo. Alternatively, you can use a segment of your Super Gauge to perform an EX Special Move. There is another meter called the Revenge Gauge and it increases each time you take damage. Once the meter is at least 50% charged you can unleash a powerful cinematic attack.
All of these techniques are still available in Super Street Fighter IV. As you can tell, there is a lot to grasp. You don’t need to worry though. Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV are easy to pick up and play. While not everyone can afford to purchase a Tournament Edition FightStick, it’s the best way to get the most out of your abilities. Another option would be to use a FightPad. Not only is the d-pad better, but having six buttons on the face of the controller means you don’t have to use shoulder buttons while playing. These are the best peripherals you could ever buy.
There are 35 fighters to choose from in Super Street Fighter IV, 10 more than what was included in the original. Eight of the new characters should be familiar to fans of Super Street Fighter II Turbo (Dee Jay and T. Hawk), Street Fighter Alpha (Cody, Guy, Adon), and Street Fighter III (Makoto, Dudley, and Ibuki). The last two additions (Juri and Hakan) are newcomers to the entire series. Thankfully, every character is at your disposal as soon as you start the game.
The new characters are absolutely fantastic and fun to play as. Juri is simply insane. Her Fuhajin special attack allows you to store a fireball for each of her kicks as long as you hold the button afterward. You can actually store a fireball for each kick at the same time (but this means you have to hold three different buttons). Juri’s first Ultra Combo gives her the ability to perform custom combos, a feature not found in the original game. For a limited amount of time you are able to chain attacks together that were otherwise impossible to do. Juri is going to be a very popular character.
Unlike Juri, Hakan is a slow moving Turkish wrestler. Of course, that’s until you oil up. Getting oily gives Hakan a huge advantage since this allows him to slide around. This also gives him better priorities for moves and you’ll find yourself getting grabbed all the time. Oiling up only lasts for a few seconds so you’ll have to find time to reapply the oil. One of his Ultra Combos allows him counter anyone that jumps over him. It’s not the strongest move, but it is a very effective anti-air counter. By just having this Ultra Attack you are able to limit what your opponent can do. There’s a lot to think about when fighting Hakan, and it’s really easy to play mind games with this character.
The other eight fighters are just as interesting and you will not be disappointed. Until the community learns how to effectively play as everyone, it’s impossible to know how good they really are. At this point though, none of the characters seem to have severe disadvantages. Having played against some great players already, you can’t let your guard down against anyone. So even though a character like Ibuki is weak and can’t take hits, she has tons of combos and moves fast.
The newcomers represent their games very well. Dudley is as classy as ever, Adon is still crazy, and Makoto will take a lot of time to learn. Of course, you can’t forget about the knife wielding Cody. There truly is a character for everyone, so mess around and see who you enjoy the most.
The original cast was not only tweaked and rebalanced, but every character now has a second Ultra Combo. After choosing your character can select either Ultra 1 or Ultra 2 before a match starts. For the most part, these new Ultra Combos will change the way your characters play. For instance, Chun-Li’s second Ultra (Kikosho), can be utilized in a combo very easily and can act as an anti-air against players that carelessly jump towards her. Chun-Li’s first Ultra (Hosenka) still can’t juggle all characters properly, but it still has its uses and is definitely the stronger of the two.
Most of the new Ultra Combos are flashy (especially Ryu’s Metsu Shoryuken) and quite useful. Those aren’t all the changes though. Every character, except for Dhalsim, has been nerfed in some sense and this should make for longer matches. Other tweaks include changing the priorities of moves for various characters. Guile can throw Sonic Booms faster now and you’ll yourself on the receiving end of a spinning backfist a lot more frequently. Sagat has been weakened, but he’s still very good. He just takes a bit more skill to use now. He also has a new ability called Angry Charge. This makes his next Tiger Uppercut better in exchange for 1/4 of his Super Gauge.
There are tons of new features in Super Street Fighter IV. It’s extremely important to be aware of everything your opponent can do. Don’t be too surprised if Juri does an attack that bounces you off a wall. This is just another aspect of her character that you need to worry about.
The Arcade mode prologues and epilogues were pretty mediocre in Street Fighter IV. Despite everything being changed in Super, you won’t care much for the new story. For whatever reason, intros lack animations this time around. Characters still briefly talk about their motives during their prologue, but you’re now treated to still images. The endings are still fully animated but many of them aren’t that good either. This is only a slight disappointment, however. The majority of your time is going to be spent in Training mode, Versus, and Online. Once you’re done getting all of the Arcade mode trophies, you’ll most likely never play this mode again.
The trial mode is back but it has been slightly altered. Instead of the trials being separated into normal and hard categories, everything is in one large list. There are 24 trials per character and the difficulty increases as you get closer to the end. These character challenges are a test of patience and determination. They won’t make you a better player. In fact, some of the trials are pointless to utilize in an actual match. If you get frustrated easily, you might not want to invest too much time into this mode. You might learn some new techniques, but don’t expect too much.
Even though every character is available right from the start, there are unlockables in the game. Beating the trials in Challenge Mode will be give you new Titles and Icons to set to your profile. The Time Attack and Survival Mode trials were not included in Super. You can now unlock new costume colors and taunts by just playing the game. The more matches you play, the more that unlocks for the character you chose. It’s a simple reward system.
The car destroying and barrel smashing Bonus Rounds from Street Fighter II return. While the Bonus Rounds are nothing too amazing, they are fun diversions after fighting nonstop for hours. Finishing the Arcade mode once gives you the option to change between the English and Japanese dubbing for each character. This also unlocks the ability to play the Bonus Rounds whenever you want.
If you have a Street Fighter IV save you will receive two unlockable costume colors as a bonus. Color 11 adds a more pronounced ink effect to the character models. It somewhat makes everyone look cell shaded. Color 12 adds an interesting sketch effect to each of the fighters. While these are small bonuses, it’s a nice gift for just having save data on your PS3. Also, all of the alternate costumes from SFIV are compatible with Super SFIV.
There are four new stages in Super bringing the level count to 22. The new stages have a lot going on in the background and are very lively. There have been minor tweaks to older stages as well. For instance, the Volcanic Rim isn’t as bright red as it was before. A small change, but one that is easy to appreciate.
In terms of visuals not too much has changed. You can tell that more polish has been put into the game, but that’s expected. Ryu still looks like Ryu but everything seems to be more vibrant. It’s difficult to pinpoint but you’ll notice that the game looks minimally better all around.
One of the biggest differences that you’ll notice is that the load times have been reduced drastically. If you ever played Street Fighter IV online, you most likely cringed if someone didn’t install the game to their hard drive. This is not an issue in Super Street Fighter IV. The load times are not only faster but it’s about equal to the installed version of SFIV (if not better). There is an optional install that takes about 3GBs worth of space and it improves the loading even more. The change is significant and we couldn’t be happier.
Oh, and saves are no longer copy-protected. Capcom clearly listened to the cries of the community on this subject. It’s good to know that you can transfer your saves around. Although, since characters are unlocked from the start it’s almost pointless.
The online play is a huge improvement in terms of functionality. In the original Street Fighter IV the lobbies only supported up to two players. In Super Street Fighter IV there is support for up to eight players. The setup should be familiar to anyone that has played a fighting game online before. In Endless Battle the winner keeps playing until someone else wins. When you lose you are sent to the end of the line. When it isn’t your turn, you are able to spectate matches that are currently in progress.
Another new addition to Super Street Fighter IV is the Team Battle mode. This unique mode allows you to play 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 matches online. For these matches you will be assigned to either the Red or Blue team. Just like in the Endless Battle mode, the winner will continue to play until being defeated. If you lose, you are eliminated and cannot play again until all the matches are finished.
You can still invite friends and “Players Met” to your online lobby. If you happen to know the name of someone online, you can also send a blind invite to that person. While not much has changed about the invite process you can now join games easier. By selecting the invitation through the XMB, you can automatically join the game without having to navigate the menus in Super Street Fighter IV.
Playing online is very addictive and quarter matches add to the simulated arcade experience. Team battles can get really intense and losing not only effects you. There is a whole new dynamic to think about now and you will feel the pressure. Capcom has set a new standard to what should be included in a fighting game with Super Street Fighter IV. Unfortunately, the Championship Mode update from the original Street Fighter IV is missing for whatever reason. It’s not that big of a loss, but we don’t understand why it wasn’t included. Thankfully, a Tournament Mode will added as a free update on June 15th to make up for removed mode.
The netcode is about the same as it was in the original Street Fighter IV. If there any improvements beyond the matchmaking, they are very minimal. Lag is always a problem in fighting games and Super Street Fighter IV is no exception. Due to the inconsistent and random connections that many gamers online have, it’s unlikely that this issue will ever be resolved. For the majority of your time though, the matches in Super Street Fighter IV are very enjoyable online. Just be warned, people are very good and you will lose frequently.
After you’re burned out from playing Super SFIV for an unhealthy amount of hours, you can watch matches online thanks to the incredible Replay Channel. The interface is really neat and this mode also has its own music. Channels are separated into the following categories: Originals, Alpha, Turbo & III, Boss, and Newcomers. As you can imagine, these categories will feature characters that are either from a particular series or characters that were once bosses. If you don’t want to be specific, you can choose the Random channel. There’s also a channel called New Replays and this allows you watch the latest Ranked Matches online.
You can save any of the replays to your hard drive and view them in the My Channel category. This is where you can invite other players to your channel and watch matches online together. There is voice chat support in this mode, so you can leave commentary with your friends. In the My List category you can rerate, rename, and remove saved replays. There are 150 slots available for saved matches. This limitation may not be a problem now, but we can imagine our list growing rapidly the more we play. If you have the ability to capture footage using an external device, it will definitely come in handy. This is especially true if you want to upload videos to YouTube. Sadly, Super Street Fighter IV does not support this feature.
As you play online replays of your matches will be added to a Battle Log. These matches are only temporarily available and will be replaced as you keep playing. If you liked a particular fight you can save it to your hard drive permanently. The list in the battle log carries about 30 matches so you shouldn’t need to worry about losing precious moments before you can save them. You cannot save replays of offline matches. This is an oversight that will disappoint many players.
A lot of details are given for each replay you watch. Before a match begins the PSN ID of each player, their main character, and rank is displayed. During the match you can view the Attack Data and Input Display for individual characters or for both opponents at the same time. This allows you to see how much damage moves are doing in real time and the exact button presses each player was making. When you’re watching a replay offline you can mess around with a few more options. You will be able to add a slow motion effect to fights, toggle between rounds easily, and pause matches. As you can imagine, replays will be a valuable asset to Street Fighter fanatics worldwide.
The music in Super Street Fighter IV contains almost all of the tracks from the original game, aside from Indestructible, in addition to some new tunes. In Street Fighter IV not every character had a remixed version of their theme. Fans will be pleased to know that every character now has their own remixed track. The sound team did a magnificent job with the music and you will not be disappointed. In SFIV these themes would only play during Rivalry Battles. While this is still true for the Arcade mode in Super, you are now given an option to use the arranged music during Versus and Online battles. All you need to do is assign a title and icon to your profile and the ability unlocks. You’ll be able to do this almost immediately after playing the game.
If for some reason you have grown tired of the music, there is Custom Soundtrack support. This ability was available in SFIV but there is one major difference. You can now listen to your own music while playing online. It doesn’t matter if you have voice chat enabled or not, you will be able to listen to your music at all times.
While browsing through the menus, the background music will change. So if you are in the main menu and select Versus, you will hear the same song but with a different emphasis. One part is similar to the character select screen music from Street Fighter Alpha 3 and it sounds pretty cool. You can switch back and forth between the menus to listen to the differences seemlessly.
The presentation in Super Street Fighter IV is quite spectacular. The main menu features Ryu and Ken, but each sub-menu will dramatically display art featuring various characters. It’s nothing major but every menu looks very appealing. The days of dull menus are over.
Super Street Fighter IV could not be recommended enough. Capcom improved on the original formula in almost every way imaginable. This is easily one of the best fighting games you’ll ever play. With 35 characters to choose from, 10 of which are new to the game, a vastly improved online mode, great gameplay with new additions, and unparalleled presentation, Super Street Fighter IV is a game you need to own. There is always something new to learn and as long as you have the drive to get better, you’ll be playing Super Street Fighter IV for a very long time. Whether you missed out on SFIV or are upgrading to Super, you are going to be very satisfied with your purchase.
Buy SSFIV from – Amazon (US) : BestBuy: Gamestop : Amazon (UK) : GAME : Gamestation
Buy a Tournament Edition FightStick from – Amazon (US) : Amazon (UK)
Buy a FightPad from – Amazon (US) : Amazon (UK)
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