Nobody messes with perfection quite like Capcom. Ever since the seminal Street Fighter II knocked us all dead back in 1991, the company have toyed and tinkered with each and every title in the franchise, building and expanding upon a series of games that were essentially faultless in the first place. This is a procedure that almost never works (just ask George Lucas) and is an area in which Capcom stand completely alone. But bearing in mind that Street Fighter IV was not only the best game in the series to date (and arguably the greatest fighting game of all time) it was also a blindingly shiny model of perfect balance and complexity. Messing around with it was always liable to create more problems than it solved. Have Capcom really managed to improve upon last year’s finest videogame? Of course they have.
It’ll be interesting to see if the company make any further refinements in the months and years to come, but for now, Super Street Fighter IV is absolutely nothing less than the definitive iteration of a masterpiece. Some owners of the original Street Fighter IV may be a mite skeptical about forking out again (despite the hugely appealing budget price) for something that appears to be little more than a slight update of a game they already own. There were a handful of very outspoken fans who argued vehemently online that these additions should have been released as downloadable content, but any suspicions that this may not be worth investing in are violently laid to rest as soon as you first get your hands on it.
The fighter roster this time is the biggest in Street Fighter history, and along with two completely new characters (South Korean Taekwondo expert Juri and the hilarious Turkish oil wrestler Hakan, both of whom are excellent) the rest of the register is comprised of some very welcome returning faces. Fan favourites Dee Jay and T. Hawk (both of whom first appeared in Super Street Fighter II) are here, alongside Adon (Street Fighter Alpha) Dudley and Ibuki (Street Fighter III) Makato (Street Fighter III: Third Strike) and most bizarrely of all, Guy and Cody from Capcom’s classic Final Fight. These ten pugilists fit into the dynamics of Street Fighter IV’s universe as perfectly as you’d expect, with online play (in which you’ll see highly skilled players using all of the above with genuine frequency) revealing that Capcom have once again nailed the tightrope-like balancing act between each of their disparate skill sets.
The only reasonably well-founded complaint that was ever leveled at Street Fighter IV was that the online side of things was a little bare-bones, and to say that this has been rectified here is a heinous understatement. In addition to the standard Ranked and Player match modes, you now have the option to take part in Team Battle and Endless Battle mini-tournaments. Both of them are furiously compelling representations of the manner in which many hardened players have always chosen to play these games in arcades. They both take the form of ‘winner stays on’ style bouts, with all other competitors able to watch the fights that they aren’t participating in as they unfold. These modes would frankly have been worth the game’s full asking price on their own, and in one online match that we took part in, an American, two Frenchman, a German and a Canadian all participated with absolutely no evidence of lag whatsoever.
Replays in the original Street Fighter IV were also a minor bone of contention, as they were solely available to the elite. Only the world’s highest ranked players could save and re-watch their own replays, and even then it was only of the specific bouts that had earned them a record-breaking number of Battle points. This time out, not only can you watch and save any of your own replays (online or off) but you can also send them to friends or watch them together online, in the superb Replay Theatre. There are also options to watch replays of matches from anywhere in the world, and you can even request to view clips of fights involving specific sets of characters. The replay options are comprehensive, and astonishing.
Each character now has two Ultra Combos at his or her disposal, the classic bonus levels from Street Fighter II (in which you’re given 60 seconds to destroy a car or a set of falling oil drums) both make a return, and this coming June a tantalising new Tournament Mode will be available as DLC, on both Xbox 360 and PS3 – for free. By somehow pleasing the series hardcore and presenting the finest option yet for anyone who has yet to take the plunge, Capcom have truly outdone themselves this time. Newcomer or seasoned virtuoso, it matters not. Super Street Fighter IV is completely indispensable either way.
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Who is the best Street Fighter character of all time and why?
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Watch the Super Street Fighter IV trailer here…