What do you think of when you hear the name "Street Fighter"? I think of a time when I was in third grade and me and my brother would ditch school and go to the local baseball card shop and wait in line for our chance to be king of the arcade, or be schooled and sent to the back of the line. We would wait patiently for our chance to put a quarter in and hear for those 2 glorious words... "Ready... FIGHT!"
Not everyone may have as nostalgic a feel for the franchise as I do and not many will have those kinds of memories and feelings about the game that I feel. However there are many underground websites and forums that have dedicated themselves to theory, balance, style and timing among other things in regards to Street Fighter 2 turbo and 3rd strike in particular. Many of you can understand a dedication to gaming beyond that of your average Joe and that is what unites us. Even if you can't share in my feelings for this particular game we all have those 3 or 4 that make us just smile inside and feel like 10 year old's all over again.... To me one of those is Street fighter and I would hate to see my game turned to a joke like Sonic has become.
To understand what makes "Street Fighter 4" a good or bad game you need to know a certain amount about the series history. Without getting into too much detail I will give you the basic layout of why the game has been so popular for such a long time. Basically it's balance. Street Fighter, while not perfect (nothing ever is), has become a staple and a hallmark that most developers have strived to achieve be it in "Dark Stalkers", "Guilty Gear" or "Dead or Alive" as examples of quality balanced fighter. You may have a fancy for "Tekken" or "Soul Calibur" and while they are fun, high quality and well produced games they are not balanced when compared, historically, to those I mentioned above. Street Fighter has always stood out as the most balanced, aggressive, most well paced, designed and revered fighting series by gamers and developers alike even though it's age and simplicity seem dated.
So now to the meat and potatoes. Is Street Fighter 4 good? Well part of the theory that goes into Street Fighter is the "Easy to learn, hard to master" theory. For a person that has never played Street Fighter, or any fighting game for that matter, are they going to be able to pick up the controller and learn easily? I would say without background in fighting games not really. There is a life bar, revenge meter, super meter that is divided into 4 segments with varying use. Combos, Super combos, Ultra combos, Focus attacks, EX Cancels, Super Armor, Dash cancels standard moves... and a variety of other things i wont mention that make it all seem very complex and overwhelming from the start. The other thing that all these do is add a huge level of depth to what used to be a simple game. All this throws balance off inevitably but this game does a surprisingly good job of keeping it.
What else belongs in the theory of Street Fighter? "All is fair in love, war and Street Fighter" is a term I have heard a lot of times. There is no "Cheap" or "Spam" in Street Fighter. You play to win and you do it any way you can. If it was cheap it wouldn't be in the game. Due to that the theory revenge meter seems to suit this purpose and without getting into details of whether adding it was a good or bad move I would say it was a good move. It adds a whole new level of strategy into the game that was not seen before and makes it much more interesting in my opinion. Someone can be pounding on you non stop, being crazy "Cheap" but as soon as your bar builds up they can be in a world of hurt. On top of that it makes really nice and flashy moves when used. Many old schoolers would say that it's a bad addition but I would say its a good evolution. With the HD Remix available for download, and plenty of people playing it, most old schoolers are happy to just jump on that anyway.
To add to the above quote this game adds a lot in terms of controlled chaos. Timing and using the right moves at the right time can be huge. You can have some amazing zone control and dominate if you really know how to play. The ability to adapt is key in this game. In your playing you will find that every once in a while you will come across someone who will destroy you with the strangest character you never thought could do it. You can learn a lot from it and then the game will kind of make you want to go into training mode and learn how to beat this character using yours. It's a lot of fun and makes you think on your feet in many good ways and build strategies.
The truth is Street Fighter can be as deep or as shallow as a gamer wants it to be. You'll find yourself yelling at the TV in frustration and praising it when you stomp someone into the ground. The game can be very emotionally intense and frustrating or it can be fun and rewarding. It has that potential and I like that.
Overall I would say the game has everything a fighting fan should want, Quality visuals, good pacing, decent balance(The game needs more time to make this fact rather then opinion), tons of replay value and some solid mechanics that make it worth a buy. However I need to make it clear in the end without multiplayer, either online or at home, I feel this game has limited replay. My question to those who buy this game though. Would you actually buy a fighting game for the single player only?
The battle point system for online is a good solid mechanic that seems to work a lot better then other games. Attention to detail was maintained and it feels right and understandably fair. There is a lot of variety in modes as well. Training modes that are down right insane at times and some other modes that make it fun.
The Character variety is good. There feels to be the right amount to keep it balanced and yet not make it repetitive. There are some old and some new characters. I feel they are all different, by a little or a lot they all have something to offer.
As far as any other down points. My main gripe is Capcom pulled a "Namco" for lack of better term. They had content already on the disc and charge you to unlock it... I really hate when companies do this. It's a huge way to sucker people like me out of money by having me buy optional content that I can't help but be suckered into buying... I just feel it should have been on the disc for free from the start. They should have made other stuff for downloadable content like extra modes after getting enough player feedback and ideas on what they (The players)want... In the end it's all about the bottom line though and if that money goes to making better DLC in the end then I'm all for it.
There are other things I could say as downfalls but those would be very in depth and 'nit picky' things that few would ever find.
I really could make this review 10 times longer and rant on and on about the fine details but I am really trying not to. If anyone is interested and wants to learn more about their character of choice PM me or reply below and I can give you some links. If you want to know more about the philosophy of the game or even get into opinions on counting frame data with me or even if you have heard about things like EX focus cancels, dash cancels, cross ups or any other things you want to know about then same deal. Even if you think I am totally wrong about how "Balanced Tekken is" because your a hardcore Tekken guy let me know. I love a good discussion. I love learning new things too.
To conclude I do feel the game is a very well evolved version. I love this series. I feel it's a good addition and a great sequel to an already stellar franchise. I feel it has everything a Street Fighter fan would want and should be enticing for any fighting game fan in general. A must buy in my book. It's one that you can always pull out a year from now and enjoy all over again. It may not be the next Tournament "Gold standard" but it may very well be just that. Only time will tell and Game on!