The Street Fighter series is a topic of debate for many gamers, with its name usually being prefixed by the phrase “not another…”. I can understand how it must look to many people; the same game coming out year after year with a fancy new word added to the title to emphasise just how awesome this new version of the game we bought last year is.
• Developer: Capcom
• Publisher: Capcom
• Release Date: June 2014
To the hardcore fan, however, this is not the case. Each edition of the game adding things as obvious (and welcome) as new fighters and costumes, to the not so obvious background tweaking and character rebalancing, with each version playing drastically different to the one that came before it in the hands of a pro. Now it’s almost time for the newest version to drop, and so naturally I was sent to a dark basement in Shoreditch for a hands on preview with Ultra Street Fighter IV.
The aforementioned dark basement was underneath Pizza East, in a venue called Concrete, which looked suspiciously like it could house the London leg of Fight Club, which couldn’t have been more fitting really. Countless monitors and consoles placed around the outside of the room, as well a stage housing a huge screen being used for some choice one on one matches that were being live streamed and run by the guys from Unequalled Media. The addition of some fantastic Street Fighter decorations and cosplayers really helped to create an atmosphere of excitement from the fans and media in attendance.
Ultra Street Fighter IV is the fourth edition of Street Fighter IV to be made available since the originals console release back in 2009, and is looking to be the most content packed yet with the addition of five new characters, all previous DLC costume packs, and several new stages. Feedback from the SF community has been used to rebalance characters and mechanics again, but all that hard work can be undone with Edition Select mode, which allows players to chose their favourite version of a particular character from all previous editions.
I played a few rounds with mixed results, making sure to give each of the five new characters some attention. Four of the five characters on offer come from from various past games in Street Fighter‘s long history, and with that history being so far in the past I can’t actually remember what each individual played like in their respective games to make a comparison, so I’ll tell you what I know.
The new additions offer a fantastic mix of speeds and styles, so there really is someone for everyone to, if not completely adopt, at least try out. Poison reminded me of Viper in her style, weight, and speed, which should make a few people happy. Hugo is a hulking tank of a man; incredibly slow moving, and extremely powerful. I managed to win with Hugo purely by chance, and the fact his attacks did so much damage to my opponent. I can imagine with the right player in control, Hugo could be one hell of an adversary, and I’d be very interested to see how he handles in the hands of a pro.
Elena’s movements felt very floaty to me, but her capoeira style seems to be well suited to linking specials together, so with a bit of practise I imagine her light movement and jerky attacks could become very fluid and deadly. Rolento on the other hand, I have no idea. He’s very quick and seems like he’d be useful for the more evasive player, in my hands however, he just kind of stood there twirling his staff like some kind of army clad majorette.
By far the most interesting of the new rosta was Decapre. Another of the Shadaloo ‘Doll’ unit, Decapre actually made her first appearance in Street Fighter Alpha 3 as part of Juni and Juli’s pre fight animation. She was a something of a point of contention amongst fans upon her reveal back in March, with many fans complaining about her being nothing more than Cammy with a slightly altered move set. This, however, is not the case.
Decapre is a charge character, having more in Common with Chun-Li than Cammy. I’m not very good with charge characters, so I couldn’t fully appreciate her, but it was said by someone at the event that she is quite possibly the first character to have a mid-air charge attack, but don’t hold me to that. It was refreshing to see a character that so physically resembles another play drastically different, and I will definitely be giving Decapre some attention when the game launches.
There has been a couple of new additions to the combat too. The most obvious being Ultra Combo Double, which allows players to choose both of a characters Ultra Combos and character select, albeit with reduced damage. Red Focus attacks absorb all attacks during the attack animation, and can even be used to simultaneously defend and attack against Ultra Combos, making it a very effecting move in the right hands. Adding to the strategic element of Street Fighter is the ability for players to delay their characters standing up after knock down, which I can see throwing even seasoned players off guard.
After several heated battles on the stage, there was another surprise in store for us. The M.C politely asked the attendees not to film any footage, of take any pictures, before finally running the world exclusive trailer for Street Fighter: Assassin Fist, an up and coming series debuting on Machinima. We’ve seen a couple of teaser trailers here and there, but this is the first proper look, and it’s shaping up to to possibly knock Mortal Kombat: Legacy off the top spot for video game adaptations.
After the trailer finished we were introduced to series creators Joey Ansah and Christian Howard, who also play Akuma and Ken respectively, to talk a little about the series. The story will be elaborating on the early days of Ryu and Ken, and the events that take place that shape them into the men they are today. It’s a story that has been touched upon in various games and animations, but to see it fleshed out and in live action could be something special. It’s evident that a lot of love and hard work has gone into this, and their passion really shines through. After this brief, and rather pleasant break from the combat it was back to battle stations for some more combat before the event finally closed down and kicked out.
Ultra Street Fighter IV is shaping up to be the definitive edition of this particular numerical instalment. The addition of new characters, stages and modes including Online Training, Team Battle, and Edition Select could lead to some pretty spectacular matches and community created game types. There is more than enough content here to convince veterans and die hard’s to part with their cash once again, as well as entice new challengers and cynics to finally pick up a copy and join the competition.