Alright fighting game connoisseurs, it's time to crack those knuckles and prepare yourself for another classic brawl. It's time for us to bring you some hands on details on Street Fighter IV. We are definitely a huge fan of Capcom's legendary fighting series, as it is one of the genre's pioneers.
Don't tell us you haven't made any excuses just to lineup at your local arcade to pump a few hadoukens and chain combos that you've practiced all weekend long. We're still coming up with our own excuses as well, but we're not going to leave you hanging of course. Ready? Go ahead and hit the jump.
*All observations were made while playing the arcade build in E3 2008
Round 1 - Visuals: Before we get into the graphical enhancements, we have to admit that we weren't fans of the Street Fighter EX series for the PS1 and PS2 which also supported 3D graphics. We felt that it wasn't necessary for the game as it didn't really make any difference to the gameplay. But, Street Fighter IV's improved visuals made an impact. Although the gameplay still remains 2D (thank God), the graphics were very dynamic as it added an impressive flair and highlight when executing special moves and super combos. Plus, the environments from the different stages look fantastic.
Round 2 - Gameplay: Again, being the fighting game heads that we are, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is by far one of the best fighting games we've played so far. The technical mechanics of the game - parrying, the ability to pick a specific super move, combo links - are so advanced to anything we've seen before in a fighting game. Unfortunately, Capcom decided to implement a more simple fighting mechanic for Street Fighter IV. The game still has the familiar six-button scheme - short punch, medium punch, fierce punch, and kicks.
The parry system is replaced with a more simple counter technique (called "Focus") that's activated when you simultaneously press both medium punch and kick buttons to deflect an incoming attack. Unfortunately, the "Focus" system only allows you to deflect one attack, unlike the parry system where it allows you to deflect multiple attacks. The counter attack is handy, but it doesn't work to your advantage when you try to block moves like Chun-Li's flurry kicks and various super moves. Speaking of super moves, the version we played only showcased one super move per character. However, the single super move featured two levels: a regular super move and an ultra super move. The ultra super move can only be accomplished if your bottom gauge is at MAX. All together, Street Fighter IV was a fresh experience that introduced a new beginning to the series - it just took a little time to get used to the new game mechanics especially transitioning from Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
Round 3 - Characters: Familiar characters are still intact: Ryu, Ken, Guile, Dhalsim, and more. We took the classic character Ken for our first spin, and he plays just as good as his previous Street Fighter appearances. Street Fighter IV introduces new characters: Crimson Viper, Abel, El Fuerte, and Rufus. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to play each character so we just decided to fight as Crimson Viper. Looking like a corporate boss who can kick your ass, the character boasts some impressive electric-like moves, similar to SNK's character Benimaru from the King of Fighters game series. She also had a Fei-Long-like super move kick as she flurries up in the air with a series of flame strikes. Overall, C. Viper was a fairly balanced character that will be played by many. Again, we wish we had the time to play the other characters (especially the amazing Rufus) but we had to be nice and let others play.
So there you have it folks. Capcom's Street Fighter IV will yet again give us another reason to skip classes, call-in sick or ditch our significant others just to crowd around the arcade cabinets. The game is due out sometime next year for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and Arcades. For now, check Krisin Holt's report on the game straight from the floors of E3 2008: