This is a guest review by Rejaq
To see the future we have to look to the past.
That could be the whole design philosophy surrounding the new Street Fighter IV, an impressive blend of what has gone before and new ideas that combine into a very satisfying whole that just shies away from greatness due to some gameplay niggles.
Set in the gap between the SF2 and SF3 series, M. Bison is defeated, presumed dead, Shadaloo is destroyed and the world is a much better place as the characters go back to lives outside of beating seven shades out of each other. Ken returns to running his company, Chun Li is in the midst of tying up the loose ends of the Shadaloo Empire, Sagat still dreams of revenge and so on. Still darkness beats like a foetid heart as Shadaloo's S.I.N. still stains all things.
Now the rest is over and the World Warriors return, some to find their past, others to face the future, still more to prove themselves worthy and one to find the best meals around the world. A new tournament is about to begin a new set of challengers are to step up alongside those who have come before and the fate of the world may again hang on the gap between an attack being made and landing.
SFIV kicks off with a superb intro, those who have seen the trailers will be aware of elements from it but this is longer and sets the tone with a visceral visual style and a thumping soundtrack to keep things running. It sets the tone and gives you a foreshadowing of what is to come.
Arcade mode is as always the main draw of the title, with a number of options that can be chosen and a nifty little online interrupt feature that you can set to on or off. For those after a true arcade feel, the online interrupt feature allows others to challenge you while you are in the middle of a single player game, the single player game is paused while you play against the challenger and once that is over you are returned to the single player game. Setting up the style of challenge you like is easy, intuitive and familiar – one of the major elements of SFIV is that whilst there are a lot of improvements most are not readily visible. As always, once you have chosen your character, you move through the rounds defeat your opponents; face off against your rival before going toe to toe with the end game boss Seth, head of S.I.N the secret weapons development branch of the former Shadaloo and move stealing martial artist.
Each character has an intro movie and an ending movie rendered in the familiar style of anime, a number of them interlock to add another little bit to the back story of why things are the way they are. In-game graphics start with beautifully rendered backgrounds – some of which are familiar from before some are all new – that are never quite the same each time and have some small bits and pieces that can be destroyed. Whilst the game plane is flat, and the fighters move back and forth as if fencing, the backgrounds are fully three-dimensional providing a good contrast, with various special moves and combo's breaking you out of the plane. A number of the characters are exaggerated, with bulging muscles, rippling torsos and so on – not to be left out Chun Li is suitable bolstered in the chest department. Motion is fluid and animation is pretty much excellent with only a few stutterings when things get super-busy.
Music is fantastic, with the final stage theme being a personal favourite. Each warrior has their own theme as do many of the stages, with riffs and reprises all the way through, adding to the feel of what has been whilst cranking things up further. Sounds are also exaggerated and you know when you have taken or given a lot of damage as there are environmental effects that give a little edge to it all as well as being DualShock enabled so you feel the impacts as well as hear them. Voice work is a little sparse, the odd line here and there and the intros and endings plus bits and bobs in game such as the announcement of special moves -- a Hadoken would not be the same without it. The lines at times are cheesy and over the top but the cast make even these sound as they should. It all blends in well.