Street Fighter IV Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Street Fighter IV box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Capcom 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Capcom 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 17, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Street Fighter II's Spiritual Successor
by Jason Lauritzen

August 1, 2008 - Without a doubt, the fan favorite in the Street Fighter lineage is Street Fighter II. It took the essential idea from its arcade father - having characters compete in a martial arts tournament - but added a larger roster of characters, fierce combos, tight controls, and those characteristic special moves that have been emulated (either in button press form or style) ever since it made its 1991 mark.

Street Fighter IV screenshot

In fact, Street Fighter II was so popular that there were six editions of it. Why mess with your gaming golden egg and risk releasing a new, less popular sequel, when you can simply tweak the formula from time-to-time? And that's the exact approach Capcom took. Those six editions - with amped-up titles like Hyper Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II Turbo - added everything from faster gameplay to super moves and even new characters, all while staying under the safety of the Street Fighter II umbrella.

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Tougher times came when Capcom decided to strike out and head in the direction of true sequels. New entries like the Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III series were good tiles in their own right (and still have solid fan bases), but they never achieved the notoriety of the Street Fighter II series (and let's not give much play to the less-than-stellar 3D Street Fighter EX series). Poll gamers on their favorite entry and they'll still say Street Fighter II (although they will fervently argue which particular edition is the best). So, why all the buildup about Street Fighter II? Well, Street Fighter IV looks like a return to form - it has the classic play of Street Fighter II mixed with a new artistic direction and great new fighting mechanics.

Street Fighter IV screenshot

After so many Street Fighter editions and sequels, Capcom has learned that most gamers identify with the main roster of characters from Street Fighter II. So, Street Fighter IV features the original eight world warriors (Ryu, Ken, Blanka, Chun Li, E Honda, Guile, Zangief, and Dhalism), bosses like M. Bison and Sagat, and four newcomers: female, American spy Crimson Viper, French martial artist Abel, Mexican wrestler El Fuerte, and Rufus, an overweight Kung Fu master.

There's a purist blessing for those that step up to Street Fighter IV for the first time: It plays almost exactly like Street Fighter II. You can still bust out hurricane kicks, hurl hadoukens, and chuck sonic booms across the screen using the same button combos from back in the day - muscle memory is a good thing this time around. Also, basic attacks are still mapped to three kick and punch buttons, and throwing is the same as in Street Fighter II (you just hold down punch and kick simultaneously).

Street Fighter IV screenshot

Sure, that control set plays on the nostalgia factor, but this is a true sequel to Street Fighter II, not a remake (like the anticipated Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix), so what makes the fighting engine unique this time around? First and foremost are Focus attacks (previously referred to as the Saving system). These attacks are performed by holding the two strong buttons and serve as a counterattack. The key with these attacks is timing - the longer you hold down the buttons, the higher the level of focus attack you perform. The first level focus attack won't make you invulnerable, but it will allow you to score a quick hit. Hold the buttons down long enough, letting it charge to level three, and you'll unleash a more powerful, unblockable attack.

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