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Critical Reception: Capcom's Street Fighter IV

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reactions to Capcom's one-on-one fighter sequel Street Fighter IV, which reviews describe as "in almost every way that matters, the perfect Street Fighter."

Danny Cowan, Blogger

February 18, 2009

5 Min Read

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Capcom's one-on-one fighter sequel Street Fighter IV, which reviews describe as "in almost every way that matters, the perfect Street Fighter." The title currently earns a score of 94 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Eurogamer's Simon Parkin rates Street Fighter IV at 10 out of 10, citing early enthusiasm for the original arcade release as a significant indication of the game's quality. "Capcom has achieved the unthinkable," he writes. "While it would be too generous to suggest that this game is reviving an ailing arcade industry, there's no doubt that the deep-rooted passions of a whole generation of players who played Street Fighter II [in their school years] have been rekindled." Despite the switch from 2D to 3D, Street Fighter IV will remain instantly recognizable to series fans. "Every facet of this game has been meticulously planned, weighed and refined into a sort of Street Fighter concentrate, the bewitching essence of the series," Parkin explains. "The result is the very best re-imagining of classic videogaming yet seen, no less than the definitive Street Fighter, a game which makes the previous entries in the series seem like mere echoes." Parkin finds that the competitive arcade experience has been faithfully duplicated in Street Fighter IV. "Street Fighter IV succeeds in integrating the online and offline experience elegantly," he writes. "The option to allow other players around the world to challenge you while you're playing through the arcade mode is both ingenious and exquisitely implemented." "It mimics the arcade experience exactly," Parkin continues, "breaking into the flow of your progression, taking you out to play against a human competitor, allowing you to play rematches against them and finally, when you're all done, reinserting you into the single-player game where you left off." Street Fighter IV's refined mechanics also recall the early days of Street Fighter II, to great effect. "While there will no doubt be a small but vociferous core of Third Strike veterans who cry foul over the series' apparent simplification," Parkin admits, "they will be vastly outnumbered by those players who get to fall in love again with the Street Fighter of their youth: one that's easy to pick up and play, yet near-impossible to master. As a result this is, in almost every way that matters, the perfect Street Fighter." At OXM Online, Dan Amrich gives Street Fighter IV a score of 9.5 out of 10. "In an industry dominated by 3D graphics, Street Fighter IV is definitely 2D — in its gameplay, at least," he notes. "The characters and arenas are all polygonal, but you never have to worry about sidestepping or a rotating camera. It’s pure, and that’s part of why SFIV feels so right." It's this simple, familiar gameplay that will make Street Fighter IV so appealing to series diehards, Amrich explains. "If you’re a fan of the older games, you’ll drop right in and enjoy yourself," he writes. "The classic six-button controls feel perfect, and as you take different characters through Arcade mode, you’ll unlock alumni who didn’t appear in the coin-op edition, like Cammy, Rose, and Dan." The additions to the classic formula also prove intriguing, however. "In addition to old friends, there are some new characters to try and a subtle but excellent new gameplay mechanic: Focus Attacks," Amrich describes. "Hold the middle punch and kick buttons to charge one; you can absorb one of your foe’s attacks, and time your release to make them crumple to the ground." "As they fall to their knees, they’re vulnerable to throws and even bigger damage before they hit the ground," Amrich continues. "It’s a great game changer that doesn’t overcomplicate the fairly technical existing mechanics." Amrich maintains that the title will be equally enjoyable to newcomers as well. "If you’re a novice, a training mode and eight levels of difficulty will help you find your way," he says. "If you’re a pro, SFIV contains all the depth you’ve ever loved about the series, without compromise. Capcom simply got the feel of Street Fighter perfectly right." Wired's Chris Kohler scores Street Fighter IV at 8 out of 10, noting that prior experience with the series will pay off immensely with the newest entry. "If you've spent time with a Street Fighter game before — and odds are excellent that you have — you'll know how to play Street Fighter IV," he writes. Even those with little series experience still stand a fighting chance, however, thanks to Street Fighter IV's simplified controls that build on Street Fighter II's established formula. "Other fighting games have taken these simple concepts and added layer upon layer of complexity," Kohler explains. "Street Fighter IV pulls back on this a bit in an attempt to make the game more palatable for casual players. While each character still possesses a few show-stopping moves that require a good deal of practice to pull off, some powerful moves are as easy as hitting two punch buttons instead of one while throwing a fireball." "I don't think this means that a total newbie would stand any chance against a veteran player," Kohler warns. "But for those of us who grew up on Street Fighter II, playing IV is like riding a bike — so much so that, yes, it is definitely possible to squeak out some wins here and there against people who never stopped playing fighting games." A few interface and controller-related issues stand out, however. "The game's menus are clunky, which gets annoying since you're constantly going in there to tweak your button settings and check the list of special moves," Kohler criticizes. "A menu will often tell you to press the A button to confirm your selection, but pressing it does nothing." Kohler continues: "And I fail to see how the all-important menu that lets you reassign the buttons on your controller could have been designed to be less intuitive. You'll be using that a lot, too, especially if you buy an arcade-style joystick — which I cannot recommend strongly enough, especially if you have an Xbox 360. The console's default controller is absolutely infuriatingly useless for this game." Otherwise, Kohler describes Street Fighter IV as a great sequel that revitalizes an ailing genre. "Street Fighter IV finds itself hurt by a few ill-advised choices, but worry not," Kohler concludes. "For now, this is an excellent return to form for a series (and genre) many had written off as dead."

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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