Street Fighter 2 HD Remix might have been fun to play at the Capcom meeting room, but Street Fighter 4 was where the party was at. The artistically made still 2D fighter has had a lot of judgment passed by the media without anyone playing it, basing their thoughts on its 2D nature and lack of real change. Whoever said that is dead wrong.
Street Fighter 4 takes everything that a 2D fighter can have and puts it in 3D. That’s not to say fighting is in 3D, but the characters and backgrounds are all 3D. They’re all highly detailed and are cell shaded, which really brings out the artistic look, as if they were hand drawn. It makes for a very aesthetically pleasing fighting game that looks good while kicking your ass.
With 16 characters to choose from, there seems to be something for everybody. My playtest was with Ryu, my personal favorite character, along with two of the new characters: Abel and C. Viper. Abel is a grappler whose typical kicks and punches are weak, but has devastating grabs. C. Viper is very quick and has harsh special attacks, but is also on the weak side. The original eight are all identical to previous titles, as far as I’ve been told.
There are only a few changes that Street Fighter 4 brings to the franchise, the biggest of which is the focus attacks. After taking damage, a bar shown on the bottom fills up. The more full spaces it fills, the more special attacks can be used. For instance, Ryu can fire a red fireball that does more damage by using some of this energy, or use a more powerful dragon punch.
Super attacks are also available, which are combos that players get when their health runs particularly low in comparison to their opponent’s. These attacks are much more powerful, but can just as easily be blocked. From my experience, it seems possible to block super attacks, though the developer on-hand was positive that doing so is impossible because it renders the attack frame by frame. Meaning that as soon as the attack is initiated, no input from either character is added until the attack plays through. I managed to block it, so while the few onlookers were impressed with my excellent gaming skills, I think more work needs to be done on this.
What I can say about Street Fighter 4 is that it is incredibly fun and exciting. The gameplay I had was just phenomenal, much better than Street Fighter 2 HD Remix (not taking away from that title at all, it’s just a very different experience). The level of polish on everything, with the exception of timing, is astounding. It looks like a complete game.
Currently Street Fighter 4 has no release date. It is set to release on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, although It's already out in arcade form in Japan.