Thursday 11 September 2014

Ultra Street Fighter IV

Six years ago, the first release of Street Fighter IV graced our gaming machines. Since then numerous re-releases, with improvements present in every one, have led us to Ultra Street Fighter IV. USF4 brings with it 5 additional characters, pushing the total roster count to a staggering 44, and numerous changes to the gameplay mechanics that most Street Fighter 4 fans are familiar with. I knew it was time to blow the dust off my Street Fighter Arcade FightStick.

When I noticed that four of the new characters and even the new stages were just ported from Street Fighter X Tekken, I was a little disappointed – it seemed lazy. The only truly new character is Decapre, who, if you care about the stories of each character like I do, is a Russian assassin and clone of military fighter Cammy. Though Decapre is a fast character, can deal a decent amount of damage, with interesting techniques to learn… she’s still just a clone of Cammy.

One thing I WAS really pleased about was the balancing updates that all characters received, such as speeding up moves, slowing down overpowered attacks, and even adding a few extra frames of invincibility. This gives characters that been written off in previous editions, like Rose, a fighting chance and makes the game feel fresh and a worthwhile experience even for established players.

But it’s the new gameplay mechanics that really make USF4 worth buying. For example; you can now choose both versions of a character’s Ultra Combo, a tactically sound decision, as it opens up the possibility of anti-air attacks, or even reversals that weren’t previously possible. The problem? Reduced damage when using them, but from a tactical perspective it definitely outweighs the damage decrease.

Feature wise, everything from the previous versions is present with a few extra additions fans of the series have wanted for some time. You can now record offline matches, which is something many SF fans will be making the most out of, train while waiting to be matched with an online opponent, but the best feature addition to USF4 is Edition Select. It really is nothing short of a dream come true for SF4 fans. This mode gives you the ability to choose any version of the character across the SF4 series! Who didn’t miss getting a full ultra from a traded Ryu dragon punch?

One thing that does annoy about USF4 is the online. No, it isn’t because of the people who can and will absolutely destroy you by pulling off insane combos or spamming low kicks followed by a character screaming “HADOUKEN” – it’s all down to the lag you may experience, even at times when it’s on a 3 bar connection. Trying to pull off a combo with lag is unbearable, and if it’s consistent throughout the match, you may as well just stand still and admit defeat.

Overall, Ultra Street Fighter IV takes an already amazing fighting game, and tweaks it to near perfection. It’s a game that you can find yourself playing for hours and you’ll have no idea at all where the time went, and it’s always fun to play against friends when they’re at your house. If you’re a fan of the series, Ultra is a must-have, and I’m sure that if Capcom releases a patch to make the online a lot more stable, it’d appeal a lot more to those who’ve never played the series before.

Ultra Street Fighter IV combo’s its way to a 4/5.


Sam Terry

Ultra Street Fighter IV at CeX

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