Now, hang on. It's only been like a year since Street Fighter IV released; what gives? Certainly you could be mistaken for thinking this is just a glorified DLC package, but the truth is there's a lot more underneath SSFIV's gi than you might expect.
Perhaps the most obvious appendage is the addition of 10 fighters beefing up the roster to an impressive 35, all of whom are available from the outset. Of the new additions, eight have made it from previous entries and in no particular order they are: Cody, Guy, Adon, Dudley (my fav), Dee Jay, Ibuki, Makoto and Mr. T… Hawk. The two brand new kids on the block are Hakan and Juri (sounds like an ice skating duo). Hakan is a Turkish oil wrestler who liberally douses himself in a barrel of olive oil and gives quite literal meaning to the phrase 'slippery opponent’. Juri, on the other hand, is a saucy South Korean Taekwondo practitioner and agent of S.I.N. who, thanks to an ocular implant, can manipulate time… and look all purpley-pink while she's doing it. These new characters represent the full spectrum of playability, with Juri being relatively easy to get a handle on while Hakan is a combatant best left for the pros out there.
Gameplay is essentially the same as SFIV with the addition of some fine-tuning in character mechanics to give a more level playing field. A clearly noticeable change, however, is the extra Ultra Combo for each character. Now, before you salivate too much at the thought of busting out two combos on some poor sap, only one can be used at any given time and is chosen before the match begins. Variety is the spice of life and having an extra devastating attack helps to keep things… spicy, as most characters‘ Ultra combos are split roughly between ranged and ‘mano e mano‘ attacks.
Game modes are pretty much a carbon copy of SFIV but with the addition of a few extra online doozies, namely: ‘Team Battle‘, supporting up to eight players; ‘Endless Battle‘, a punishing last-man-standing mode; and the welcome return of the
fan-favourite car and barrel smashing bonus stages. The ‘Replay Channel‘, which lets you review previous matches, has had an overhaul with all matches recorded for your discretionary perusal
and ranking. Unfortunately, the replay controls are still very limited with no means to pause, rewind or loop sections of the video. You can, however, slow the action down, so it ain’t all bad.
Visually, SSFIV shares the same cool look that SFIV had, holding its arcade roots in a firm headlock with bright vibrant colours and OTT anime cutscenes. The character models are rendered in that faux cell-shaded style that‘s ‘so hot right now‘, giving a smart blend of 2- and 3-dimensional style that mirrors the gameplay itself. Attacks are as outrageous as ever and, at critical in-game moments, rendered in bold, kanji-esque ink strokes giving added dramatic punch.
If you haven't got SFIV, then get SSFIV. It's a subtly tweaked but superior version in every way. If you already bought IV, then the low price may well tempt you to splash out nonetheless. This title is a good excuse to blow the dust off the franchise or even to try it for the first time.