Street Fighter IV – A review

I used to review video games, in my old life before I became a desk jockey. I don’t get to play games much anymore, ergo I don’t review them.

However, when I saw that a new Street Fighter had been released I decided to pick it up. Was it worth $60? Not really, but I don’t think any game is worth $60.

Street Fighter IV is a lot of fun. It brought me back to the days I would spend after school playing Super Nintendo version of SF2: Championship Edition at a friend’s house. And seeing as my friends didn’t like giving up the controller, I didn’t get to play much. But now I have the last laugh, I don’t have to share with anyone! And that’s the problem. This game is more fun when played with someone else. As with most video games I own, I don’t seem to know anyone else interested in playing.

It also seems that I need to dedicate a lot of time to learning the ins and outs of each character before I can truly master the game.  Right now I’m at casual gamer status, but to compete with the best I’d need to quit my job, give up my worldly possessions and dedicate my life to Street Fighter training in a monastery on some snowy Himalayan mountain top. Seeing that I lack the motivation to even write this blog with some regularity, that won’t happen. What will happen is that I’ll get bored of the game quickly. While I enjoyed Street Fighter IV when I first put it in my Xbox, my interest has since waned.

My review so far has been somewhat negative. I don’t mean to pan this game. It’s actually a lot of fun. The new characters are quirky, but forgettable. The character back stories are ridiculous. El Fuerte is a Mexican luchador that wants to be a have his own cooking show, so he sets out learn what other world class fighters eat by challenging them to street fights. Blanka sets out to prove to his mother that he isn’t some kind of big green failure. The other new characters are standard issue fighter game space fillers, so I won’t even go into them. The final boss, Seth, is frustratingly impossible to beat. I spent at least two hours trying to defeat him on the medium difficulty setting before giving up. I’d beat him in the first round and get his health bar half way down in round two before he unleashed 17 hit combos and supermoves on me that ended the match in a matter of seconds. Maybe that’s just my skill level, but I couldn’t figure out how to defeat this guy.

One of my friends complained about the graphics. I thought the graphical upgrade looked amazing. I also read that someone thought this game wouldn’t have garnered any attention if it didn’t have the Street Fighter legacy attached to it. I’d have to say their might be some truth to that, but Street Fighter become the franchise it is today because of its arcade experience. You can’t really go to arcades these days, so something is lost in the transition from arcade to console.  If this series was introduced in the console age it probably wouldn’t receive much attention because it does little to differentiate itself from other fighting games.  Of course you could argue that this is the seminal fighter, so without it you wouldn’t have Mortal Kombat or Soul Caliber.

As for the gameply, it plays just like the version I played in junior high school. And that’s where the game shines. Capcom took the tried and true classic and updated it for the latest console generation. I did have some trouble pulling of some of the super moves (not the special moves, but the super-powerful round-ending combos). I loaded up the training mode and turned on the option that shows the history of the buttons you’re pressing. I noticed that the Xbox controller made it difficult to press three buttons at once (two on the main part of the controller and one on the shoulder), a requirement to pull of those super moves. I think the arcade stick would probably be worth the investment if you really want to master this game, otherwise you won’t be able to pull off the moves with any consistency.

Seeing as the game has the same moves, characters (for the most part) with only a graphical upgrade, should you shell out $60 for a gussied up version of a game that otherwise retails for $20? You shouldn’t. Unless you’re a die hard Street Fighter fan, this game is definitely a rental. It just won’t hold your interest for more than a couple weeks. I suppose one could argue that most fighting games don’t have a lot of long-term appeal, but I’d have to disagree. I’ve sunk plenty of time in other fighting games, and even found single-player challenges to be fun. Maybe it’s just my age and interests at this point in my life, but this game didn’t hold my attention.

Since I still think World of Warcraft is the best game ever, Street Fighter IV only takes 4 days away from my time spent in Azeroth.

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