Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/super_street_fighter_4_ae/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
After nearly a decade of Street Fighter offshoots, experiments, and anthologies, Capcom succesfully relaunched the series with Street Fighter IV in 2009, a title based heavily on fan feedback. It proved to be exactly what the community wanted and was more than enough to warrant a "Super" console-exclusive version the following year, offering 10 new characters, new outfits, new modes, new Ultras, and a "Replay Channel" for viewing your own matches or those of others.
Now an expanded Arcade Edition is here, the final entry in the Street Fighter IV series, boasting four new characters, character rebalancing, and an improved Replay Channel -- a $15 upgrade for Super owners. For PC players like myself, all of this content is brand new, so I'll be focusing on the package as a whole.
The character roster now totals a grand 39 fighters, newcomer highlights including ninjas Guy and Ibuki, twin brothers Yun and Yang, Evil Ryu, Oni aka 'Evil-er' Akuma, and purple spider lady Juri. On top of that, you can select one of two Ultras for use during a match before it starts. The long list plus added Ultras means a much greater variety of gameplay, fun twists on old favourites, and even more time to spend learning the ins and outs of each -- in matches as well as the returning Trial aka Challenge mode -- and how they work against each other. For those who prefer to have all characters available immediately, you'll be pleased to know they are this time.
All modes from vanilla are back, including Arcade, Versus, Training, and of course, Online Battle.
Arcade is now plagued by somewhat poorly drawn and non-animated cutscenes -- utterly uninteresting and a huge step back from the entertaining and beautifully crafted and fully animated scenes in vanilla.
Online Battle has now been broken up into a few new modes: Ranked (single match), Endless Battle (unranked battles between a select few players), Team Battle (2v2 or 4v4 team mini-tournaments), and Tournament (2v2 or 4v4 tournaments).
Ranked was by far the most popular mode during my playtime, and proves slightly more satisfying than before as you're now put in a class grade based your Battle Points and Player Points -- knowing you could rank up or down if performing well or poorly makes matches all that much more exciting.
Endless serves as a relaxed messing around mode for when you just want to chill with a few people and play a continuous stream of matches -- a welcome addition, to be sure.
Team Battle and Tournament unfortunately I cannot vouch for either way, really, as almost no players were to be found here even after extensive trying and waiting. Even when the rare player did show up to fill a slot, he'd quickly leave before any others would arrive, understandly impatient. On PC at least, it may simply be a matter of waiting awhile for the community numbers needed to support these modes, but I may be being optimistic.
The Replay Channel is more of a hardcore feature than anything, though even casual players may get a kick out of showing off their favourite matches. Essentially how it works is all matches are recorded, and afterward, you can view them, save them, rate them, and even host a little viewing party; the particularly great ones you're given the option to upload for public viewing.
If you're interested in checking out other players, you can visit out the various channels (Alpha for Alpha characters, Boss for Bosses, etc.) which will play them back TV style. If you want to check out only the top players, simply turn on the 'Elite' filter, or alternately, head to the leaderboards. The divided channel setup proves an issue sometimes -- particularly with the Elite filter on -- as if there are no matches available in a particular channel, you've got to go through each until one is found as opposed to if there were an all-encompassing channel.
Sadly, browsing options aren't very well thought-out; you can't text search for a particular player (needed for those into the pro scene, especially as you can 'Follow' players), can't sort by player rank (though you can by points in the leaderboards), or by date, your matches only, or character (if you want to study only Yun to better your own game with him, for example, you can't). When browsing your own matches, there's no indication as to which character you are, and strangely, top player matches are only accessible via the leaderboards (in the Replay Channel, 'Elite' matches are random). In the Replay Channel, there are filters for region, and in the Leaderboards, there are filters for Friends and top players, but the overall feeling is somewhat frustrating and scattered.
For those who want to upload their replays to YouTube or wherever, unfortunately saved video files don't appear accessible -- I searched my hard drive far and wide and came up with nothing. However, the replay functionality means you don't have to bog down your frames with FRAPS while hoping for a good match: you can play at your leisure and pick and choose the best replays and record those for uploading. Note the HUD can be removed for these and background music can be replaced with your own if you so desire.
A wide variety of graphics options are on offer as with vanilla, and there are now more framerate related options (for now the 'Fixed' option is recommended -- the others need patching, which is on the way). Between this and matchmaking now incorporating benchmark scores, you can expect a much better experience. In all my time with Arcade Edition, I experienced very few laggy matches, which is a lot more than I can say for vanilla. Framerate is locked to 60 as it's tied to the speed of the game itself; with maxed settings on a 5770 GPU and 1055T CPU, I had no trouble maintaining it at all times. The requirements are relatively low; I've heard even netbook users can give it a try, though it runs and look just lovely if you've got the gear to support it. For those with NVIDIA 3D Vision hardware, Arcade will take advantage of it.
Currently there are some issues with device recognition, so fight sticks and wireless keyboards and such may not work (my keyboard didn't, but the Xbox 360 controller did the trick just fine), at least not without some hacking. Fortunately Capcom is working on it, and a patch should be out today or soon to address this issue and others. On the bright side, two players can play on the same keyboard now if they're crazy enough to.
Regarding DRM, if you've not yet heard, that's since been cleared up. Initially offline play was severely limited, but shortly all players will be good to go; Steam users have no such limitations from the start.
Capcom have gone and made a great thing even better, particularly for the PC crowd. With improved online play, a massive character roster, more moves, more modes, and all the fun to be had with replays, Arcade Edition is an essential upgrade if you love fighters (and let's face it, for PC gamers, there are virtually no others to play at the moment). My only real issue with the game is the price: new players are getting a great deal, while those who paid for one or both previous versions aren't quite so much (especially PC players who are used to a $10 lower price). In any case, it's one of the best fighters around and if not now then soon, is well worth picking up (or downloading, as the case may be).
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