Review by ValisFan
"What do Super Street Fighter IV AE and a Disney Sequel have in common?"
Street Fighter 4- Appeasement Addition
What do Street Fighter IV and a Disney straight to DVD sequel have in common? They are both quasi-sequels with little regard for story continuity, mediocre art, lesser imitation voice actors, no real theme, a bunch of characters just "thrown in there," and an overall disrespect over the old storyline. I'm looking at you Gouken, they can't just say "he was sleeping" and add him in to this game.
Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition is the latest iteration in the Street Fighter 4 series. I am reviewing this game as a player who has recently bought a PS3 and this game. I didn't own a PS3 during original Street Fighter IV or SSFIV so I haven't played those games. My experience with the Street Fighter series is actually fairly new compared to a lot of other fighting game fans, I was never really in to the original Street Fighter 2 craze. I mostly got into arcade fighters when I started college, playing Capcom vs SNK 2, Marvel vs Capcom, and Street Fighter Alpha 3. Those games were sprite based and had the distinct Capcom FEEL.
Street Fighter IV is NOT the first time Street Fighter was done in 3D. That would be Street Fighter EX that did that. Although I've never really played the EX series, let me say that I like the designs of EX original characters like Skullomania, Nanase, and Cracker Jack more than the original characters of SF4 like Sarah Palin lookalike C. Viper and an evil sluttified Chun-Li named Juri. I don't much enjoy the 3-D models of the fighters in this game, the faces of previously cute characters like Chun-Li and Sakura now look butch and cookie-cutter. Seriously, Chun-Li and Sakura have pretty much the same face, but with different hair! Compare Sakura's winning facial expressions and movement to that of Ling Xiouyu of Tekken, clearly, Ling is a much better animated "young cute girl" type character in her movement and personality. All the men in this game have that GI Joe action figure feel. Their bodies feel like giant plastic muscly limbs attached together with cheap joints. Remember how in Final Fantasy 7 how all the characters had rectangular blocks for limbs attached with thin wirery joints? Its basically the same here. It seems like the art direction of SF4 is going back to the semi-realistic look of SF2 instead of the more anime-ish look of Darkstalkers and the Alpha series. Zangief looks a lot more like a "normal big guy" in this game than his Alpha sprites where he looked like an inverse pyramid bodybuilder. Many of the faces are pretty hideous, with bulging eyes and grotesque mouths and jaws for characters like Balrog and Dee Jay. Although some of the characters introduced later in SSFIV like Makoto and Ibuki have better faces. Overall, the art and feel of the characters feels bland and generic. Tekken does a much better job of giving the fighters a certain feel through their moves and expressions.
I'll focus my review on the fighting engine, that is really what I look for in a solid fighting game. As a gameplay engine I find the Street Fighter IV series to be a bland throwback to Street Fighter 2. Theres a reason why I prefer games like Capcom vs SNK 2, Third Strike, and Alpha 3 over Street Fighter 2, Capcom has made innovations in all those games to make matches faster paced, more strategic, less spammy, and gave your characters good defensive options.
Street Fighter IV feels like Capcom said "hey, lets make a 3D version of Street Fighter 2, add in force attacks and some super moves, and use tons of old characters and not give any real story." I will break down specifically the parts which I don't like about the fighting system. These parts are aerial ability, defensive options, and super bars.
The Alpha series, Street Fighter 3, and King of Fighters all had new features that gave your characters more options in the air, Alpha gave us air blocking- awesome against spammy fireball users, great for air grabs as well. SF3 used parries for air defense, they require more skill and timing than air blocking, but a good parrying game can win you the air battle. And King of Fighters uses low jump, for making your jump ins that more unpredictable. But Street Fighter IV gives us.... drumroll please..... NOTHING. Damn nothing for aerial defense except for a few characters that can change trajectory and use special moves mid air. The Aerial game feels like SF2. You and your opponent each throw out one move and HOPE you chose the better one and it connects. Theres not even Super Jump in this game except for C. Viper and Ibuki. In Capcom vs SNK 2 ALL the grooves got super jumps, it made the game much less predictable if Maki could super jump clear across the screen and kick a spamming Sagat in the face. But now facing fireball spam characters like Sagat and Ryu becomes a CHORE, a CHORE no different than in Street Fighter 2. Good luck playing Zangief against Sagat, jump over his tiger shots and hope you time it right to get off a kick, and then do it again when Sagat runs to the other side of the screen. I think aerial gameplay is the future of 2D fighters, theres a reason why lots of the new hip fighters like Guilty Gear and Blazblue give us things like air dashing and double jumps. I expect SOMETHING in the aerial defense department in SF4, instead I get a big fat NOTHING.
As for defensive options. Street Fighter IV gives us a load of disappointment. The new defensive system of focus attacks is pretty lame if you ask me. It really is just a slow unblockable "haymaker" style move that absorbs one attack and lets you do a combo if it hits. So basically, its just an offensive move with one absorbing defense in there. This really isn't very much fun and its not what a defensive or counter move in my view should be. A defensive move should be spontaneous and unpredictable, not something slow where you "hope it works." Capcom vs SNK 2 gave us lots of defensive abilities across all grooves, like rolling- great for setting up grabs or supers to spammy fireball players, just-defending and parrying, which were originally from Garou Mark of the Wolves and SF3- both clever defensive moves. Whenever you parry or just defend a move or combo you think to yourself "yeah, I'm so baddass." Search for the YouTube video "Daigo Full Parry Come Back and Win" where Daigo chain parries Chun-Li's full super move and the crowd goes wild. This is the kind of defensive move that I like to see in a game, one that rewards good thinking and strategy and punishes spam and predictability. SF4's focus attack accomplishes neither. I keep thinking to myself when I'm blocking a series of spammy chain block combos, "man, I wish I could do SOMETHING to punish the opponent's spam like an Alpha Counter, or a roll, or a perfectly timed parry. I wish I could at least sidestep, it is a 3-D game after all." But no, when your spending time blocking chains, the only thing you can do is block until you have an opening to attack.
Now lets talk about the super and ultra bars. Yes, you have TWO bars. The super bar charges when you hit the opponent just like your standard super bar in many other fighters. But, you can also spend parts of the bar by doing EX moves, which are souped up, more powerful versions of your specials, or you can do an EX-cancel. Which is pretty much like a Roman Cancel in Guilty Gear. If it fills up all the way you can do a super move, and each character only gets ONE super move, but who needs supers when you have ultras? The ultra revenge bar is pretty stupid if you ask me, its just like the Samurai Shodown inspired K-groove from CVS2, which charges as you get hit. In CVS2 when the bar is full your character gets "angry" and turns red, where you can do a super in that timeframe until the bar runs out. In SF4, the ultra move can be used any time the revenge bar is halfway full. So in a sense, SF4 is trying to combine 2 super bars into one system. You get rewarded whether you are doing the hurting or being hurt, it really just comes across as tacky and convoluted. Pick one or the other Capcom.
Another gripe I have with this game are the controls and overall physics. It really feels like you NEED to buy a joystick in order to enjoy this game. Your moves really don't come out like you expect them to most of the time. Capcom vs SNK 2 on the PS2 felt great pulling off dragon punch moves, but this game feels strange, the move often doesn't come out correctly and often has odd results like a standing punch and THEN the dragon punch, Ken often throws out his super when I'm trying to do his Shoryuken. Throwing feels odd, the range is unpredictable and it "sometimes" works, I don't like pressing 2 buttons to throw in a 2D fighter, I always thought pressing hard punch or kick right next to the opponent just felt more natural. My biggest complaint with the controls is trying to get an ultra move off. It is really difficult using the PS3 controller. You have to input the motion and then press ALL THREE attack or kick buttons at the same time. This can be done by pressing the L1 or L2 buttons, but that is really difficult when you are focusing your attention on your left thumb for inputting the motion, in fact, to do the ultra move, I usually just move my right index finger all the way to the L1 or L2 buttons! Capcom has never made us input a complex motion followed by multiple buttons at once in any other game. In CVS2 and Third Strike it was a complex motion followed by one button. And in the Marvel series it was a simple motion followed by 2 buttons. Why would they combine the two?
Online play was the main reason why I bought this game. After playing through the main game once with Zangief, I solely played online after that... for about a few minutes until I got frustrated losing to spammy cheesy gimmiky characters like Evil Ryu, Seth, Akuma, Oni(an even EVILER Akuma!) Hakan, and more. I'm surprised Capcom didn't ad in an evil Ken Masters by now. Adding all these convoluted characters with no real role in the storyline just makes this game feel like your typical MUGEN game sometimes. Another one of my complaints with online play is it can be really slow at times, never before in a fighting game have I spent so much time just STARING at my opponent, you'll find a lot of this in this game, both you and your opponent staring at each other from across the screen thinking, "you move first," "no YOU move first." Online is playable though. It is relaxing to play late at night when there are fewer people. I recommend playing best out of 5 instead of 3 because it lets you gauge the opponent's strategy. There are a lot of character matchups that are just "unplayable," but there are also a lot of fun matchups too.
All these shortcomings make the online play frustrating, not a fun way to spend an afternoon in my opinion. Win or lose, this game just doesn't make me feel as satisfied as other fighting games with more complex systems, where I clearly feel like I DESERVED to win or lose based around strategy and learning from my previous matches. All in all, this game just feels like Capcom took the Street Fighter 2 system, tacked on the super bar from Guilty Gear along with the rage bar from Samurai Shodown, added in a bunch of previous characters while giving us a few lame new ones. And packaged this game hoping to win over the Street Fighter 2 fans of yesteryear while keeping the system bare-bones and super-heavy to appeal to the kiddy crowd. Sorry Capcom, I expect more.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/31/11
Game Release: Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (US, 06/28/11)
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