Let\'s play a game. I\'ll throw out a few words, and you\'ll see how many of \'em make sense. Ready? Here we go. Punch. Kick. Throw. Jump. Fireball. Get most of those? Let\'s try round two. Shoto. Footsies. FADC. QCFx2. EX. How about that list?
Super Street Fighter IV incorporates these terms and many more; at high-level play, this is the meeting place of philosophy, psychology, dedication, and technical prowess. With so many potentially foreign and difficult concepts, terms, and applications in the game, will you need to keep a gaming glossary next to you or set aside years of your life in order to enjoy it? No. Not really.
SSFIV is a fighting game designed from the ground up to be enjoyable whatever your gaming tendencies are. More than most games, what you are able to pull out of Super is dependent on what you want to put into it. What this means is, like the timeless game of chess, you can play casually with friends, learning a few things here and there to augment your playing, or you can become a serious competitor, devoting yourself to countless hours of study and practice.
One of the game\'s great strengths is this: It\'s a fun game that\'s easy to get hooked on even without a deep understanding of its mechanics. However, like with chess, a casual player in the park will not be able to realistically hold his or her ground against a master, but players of similar skill can enjoy themselves when appropriately matched up. Still, even for casual players, competition is the name of the game.
Unless if you are fortunate enough to have a bunch of similarly minded friends who you game with often, the meat of Super is in online play. There are a handful of game modes available, but you\'ll most likely be playing singular ranked matches. SSFIV incorporates a skill ranking system that actually works. Matchmaking is limited by who is playing online at the time, but most battles will be pretty evenly matched in terms of actual player skill; even fairly casual players can win matches against others when this system works.
Make no mistake, though; casual gamers can legitimately enjoy SSFIV, but it is still an extremely technique- and strategy-driven game. Matches take place in two functional dimensions, so you will never have to worry about sidestepping. You will have to worry about airborne assaults, low sweeps, seemingly unending combos, special attacks that blindside you from the far end of the screen, and so on. The sheer depth of the fighting system is astounding, but I won't drag you down with those details here. For a fairly thorough examination of the fight mechanics, check out my review of the game's previous rendition, Street Fighter IV.
Despite having 35 characters in Super, with strong rumor of more characters being released as downloadable content in the future, the game is a finely tuned machine. The huge cast of characters offers great variety for you to choose a fighter that suits your personality and playing-style preferences. If you want serious, you can have it. If crazy is more your style, there\'s plenty of that here, too. Maybe you\'d like to play as Cody, the falsely accused prisoner-gone-hero from Final Fight, or Hakan, a very zany Turkish oil wrestler created just for this game. If you can come up with a character archetype, it\'s probably represented here.
In nearly every regards, SSFIV is a fantastic game. It\'s well balanced and plays like a dream, the chief aims of any competitive fighting game. The tunes are catchy, and the voice acting team is full of spunk and charm. And the graphics, oh the graphics, they are a sight for sore eyes. In a market overloaded with the graphical realism sales pitch, Super takes a hyperstylized and cartoon-like approach. Gone are the hand-drawn sprites of yesteryear, something that I was more than hesitant about, but the result is beautiful, flowing, lively, and altogether astounding. But don\'t take my word for it. If you haven\'t watched any gameplay videos, do yourself a favor, put this review on hold, and go watch a couple of them; you won\'t regret it.
Even for owners of Street Fighter IV, Super is a worthy purchase. In the previous game, there were characters that had a very definite superiority over others, even to the point of seeming altogether overpowered. The update has dealt with that considerably. Some characters are still stronger than others, but spread in power has shrunk a great deal such that any character can be viable in all levels of play. The ability to have multiple players in a rotating online mode, simulating lines in front of the arcade machines of old, more than justifies a purchase if you have multiple friends to play with. The increase in cast is substantial not just in quantity, but also in quality. More than any other genre, quality characters are key to a fighting game\'s success; the outlandish crew added here is more than welcome.
Ultimately, Super Street Fighter IV is a game I do not hesitate to recommend, especially when its retail price is twenty bucks lower than most new games; it is a fantastic game in nearly every respect, and I cannot even count the hours I have poured into it, nor will I detail the blistering of my thumbs from the prolonged gaming sessions. Even, and perhaps especially, for owners of the original game, the improvements in online modes, game balancing, and character cast more than justify a purchase. That said, however worthy of praise the game may be, it may not be the game for you. If casual play is your thing and you don\'t have many friends with a similar mindset, then I might recommend picking up another fighting game more suited to your preferences. Likewise, though the potentially bothersome content is relatively tame compared to most other fighting games, I don\'t advise giving the game to younglings with impressionable minds.
-Kenny "Kendrik" Yeager