Street Fighter IV for the PS3 and 360. Developed DIMPS/Capcom, by Published by Capcom
Over the years, we’ve witnessed many of the favorite classic games remade with less than spectacular results. Shifting our favorite 2D sprites into the third dimension has produced uninspired and often frustrating entries into the Shinobi, Sonic, Castlevania, and Mega Man franchises. When we heard that Street Fighter II, was going to be given a retrofitted polygon engine, while still maintaining the nuances of the beloved game, we were concerned. Recreating the intricate collision system, hit boxes, and animation system had been tried before in Street Fighter EX3 with decidedly mixed results.
After a few days with Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360 and PS3, our worries were unwarranted; although polygonal, the game has clearly remained in the 2D realm. Capcom’s fighting masterpiece has been lovingly recreated, and displays a level of graphical polish reserved for a handful of triple-A titles. Simply put, we doubt the game will be trumped mechanically or graphically by another brawler this year- unless the developers are clandestinely working on a Marvel vs. Capcom remake.
Those that are intimidated about jumping aboard a twenty-year old franchise should not fear- this iteration has been adoringly tweaked to welcome newcomers. Special move timings have been relaxed, and with the exception of fighting final boss Seth on higher difficulty settings, the game’s AI rarely frustrates. With an ultra meter that increases as the player receives damage, a tide turning move for a rookie is nearly always possible.
Graphically, Street Fighter IV is consistently impressive, from its brush-stroked character portraits, intricate background animations, and extraordinary facial animation. Street Fighter II farcically expressed the pugnacious pain of competition through hand drawn animation frames of gaping mouths, bulging eyes, and twisted jaws. Facial expression is a complex process in polygonal models, and frequently the results look wooden or clumsy. Every aggrieved visage in SF IV is rendered flawlessly, conveying the sting of a connecting blow.
Street Fighter aficionados will want to know which platform offers the preferred experience; in short, both the 360 and PS3 version differ only slightly. The PS3 shows a rare framerate drop, a bit less anti-aliasing, and without the optional hard drive install, slightly longer load times. However, we found the PS3’s direction pad much more precise that the digital input on the 360 controller. The 360 version’s load times were speedy; installing the title onto the hard drive offered little additional improvement.
Our issues with the game are largely minimal, and seem easily fixable via a patch. First, the quick match option isn’t exactly swift, taking up to thirty seconds to create the necessary handshaking between online players. Capcom’s last revision of Street Fighter- Turbo HD Remix, integrated a ‘quarter match mode’ than simulated arcade competition. Unfortunately, no such option exists in SF IV. Secondly, the cost for alternative costume is excessively prohibitive. At four dollars for five costumes, completionists will end out shelling out $20 for all five costume packs.
Overall, Street Fighter IV represents one the rare instances where a remake is devotedly faithful to the original game, yet still represents a large leap forward in technical execution. Street Fighter veterans will instantly connect with the game, pulling off spinning bird kicks as if the franchise never took an extended hiatus. New players will appreciate the adjustments designed to level the playing field for all participants. In short, Street Fighter IV is the rebirth that the series needed- welcome back, brawlers.