It’s always hard being away from good friends for years and years. When you see them again a lot of times they have changed and aren’t the people you used to know. The last time Ryu and the other World Warriors played a part in gamer’s lives was 12 years ago in the various iterations of Street Fighter 3. When last you saw them they had changed quite a bit and brought lots of new people to the party. Lots of people didn’t think it was the same as before, but those who stayed and got to know the new characters and moves were few and far between. Now over a decade later, Capcom wanted to bring people back to their childhood where things were much simpler and the faces were recognizable. Its safe to say, it is good to see old friends again.
Jumping straight into the roster, the entire cast of Street Fighter 2 returns along with a dash of fresh faces. Not only are the characters familiar but so are their styles and move sets. Ken and Ryu still use the basic controls they always have (down to forward and punch for a Hadoken, etc.), while characters like Guile and M. Bison use a charge move list (Hold d-pad in one direction for a second or two and release in another, usually opposite direction, followed by a punch or kick). The new fighters have their own move sets and play-styles that certainly change the way people will play the game and all four regular new characters are a welcome addition to the classic roster. Along with the cast from the Japanese arcade release, the console port has a couple surprises. There are a total of nine unlockable characters which include fan favorites Sakura, Cammy, Akuma, and for the first time ever: Ryu’s master Gouken. There are plenty of World Warriors to choose from and everyone will find a favorite in the lot.
The fighting itself is fluid and fun. It truly is a game that lets you decide how you want to play. You can be more methodical with your attack with a character like Dahlsim, or be quick and offensive like El Fuerte and Sakura. The fights move at a quick pace, but not as quick as something like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, but it’s fast enough that it feels frantic and fun.
Starting up the game you get a great feel for the production values put into it. The opening cinema is stunning with its bright colors, painted style, and exhilarating fights. This also carries over into the actual fights. All of the characters look gorgeous and are animated beautifully. It’s in no way realistic, but tied in with the vibrant and lively environments everything fits together perfectly. From the electricity and fire of special attacks, the ink splattering of the Focus attacks, to the splendid close-ups and flare of the Ultras, Street Fighter 4 definitely has its own style and pulls it off better than most of the other big fighting titles of the past few years.
Along with the previously mentioned Trial mode, SF4 houses Survival and Time Attack modes to keep people playing for weeks on end. On top of that the game boasts an Online mode which many people will be spending a great deal of time with. Many other fighters are plagued with latency issues and in some cases SF4 is no different. But most of the time online play is smooth sailing. Just make sure that you, and your opponent have a decent connection and things will go swimmingly. In games like Soul Calibur, players are allowed to customize their characters with optional outfits and weapons and such. In Street Fighter 4 all you have to customize is your icon for your in game gamer tag and a title that you bestow upon yourself, both of which can be unlocked by playing either online matches or single player modes. While online is a great way to build your skills, it just can’t beat the experience of beating someone in the same room as you. Its the way Street Fighter began and there is no comparable substitute for it.
Whether you are a veteran World Warrior or are new to the series, Street Fighter 4 has a little something for everyone. It is like the ocean in a way. You can enjoy the beauty and simplicity it provides on the surface and live with that, or you can put on the appropriate gear, dive in to see its depth and find that there is much more to it than meets the eye. It is the most fun I have had with a fighting game in many years, and I plan on keeping these old friends with me for a long time to come.