What's super about Street Fighter?What’s so super about Street Fighter IV?
We don't think it's unfair to say that Street Fighter has definitely lost some of its impact and magic over the years, especially among those 30-somethings who played it to death on arcade machines in chip shops around the country in the late ‘80s. However, there’s no denying that it still remains one of the most exciting and tactically brutal fighters out there with a roster of characters brimming with personality and a range of visually arresting moves that explode on screen among the flurry of arms and legs. The solid game mechanics and tactically compelling cat-and- cat and mouse battles that have become a trademark of the series return in the latest iteration, but the more you play it the more you can actually feel which areas have been balanced and fine-tuned - and it's all the more better for it.
SSFIV: AE takes some of the strongest features and best characters from past games and marries them together for one impressive showcase of everything we’ve grown to love about the series. The roster is large and impressive and unlocked from the outset offering a massive variety of play styles; and it’s refreshing to see in the single player tournament the return of the barrel bonus stages last seen in Street Fighter II. So, nostalgic it most certainly is, but it also comes with a fresh lick of paint that makes it quite an arresting visual display of manly slap-downs and extravagant, fast-paced melees. What really sets this latest iteration apart from its predecessors though is the robust online options that elevates it to a whole new level of community interaction and challenge.
As far as gameplay goes, it is business as usual in SSFIV: AE. The tried-and-tested formula of choosing your character and fighting through the roster in best-out-of-three battles is wearing a little thin, but as soon as you start brawling you can’t help but get sucked into the ferocious bouts of combat. If you played Street Fighter IV you’ll know all about the gorgeous backdrops and the deep and satisfying battle system so we won’t cover old ground here (Street Fighter IV review), but suffice to say it hasn’t lost any of its addictive pick-up-and-play qualities or that “just one more go” appeal.
In SSFIV: AE the new characters means that there's a whole new challenge ato get to grips with nd a new play style to master, but it's the re-balancing of the old characters and the inclusion of some old but familiar faces that really takes the limelight. The new guys, Juri and Hakan, are welcome and fun additions, but with such a strong cast of familiar characters already available their impact is somewhat dampened. Hakan is the most enjoyable of the two new additions to fight with, amusingly pouring oil over himself to make move faster, which also leaves him vulnerable for a short period of time. The four new characters for the Arcade version add depth and have entertaining animations and move sets to master, but despite testing them out on a few occssions we couldn't help but slip back to the characters we already know. Considering the roster is so full, it’s still testament to the creativity of the developer that it can develop new characters that fit perfectly within the Street Fighter universe, yet still manage to feel different to control then any past character.
Overall, it's the strong matchmaking features that really push the series to the next level. The “Elite” replay channels are quite jaw-dropping to watch, as it’s quite incredible to witness the skill of some players. Similarly impressive is how we've been able to jump into online battles with no hassle. Nothing beats playing against real-life opposition with each match having an exciting air of unpredictability just before the announcer bellows “FIGHT!” The robust multiplayer arena should also ensure that fans will continue playing SSFIV: AE long after the single player tournament has finished.