20 Jul

I’ll preface this article by saying that I am not skilled at Street Fighter or any fighting game for that matter. The last time I played the SF series was Street Fighter II on the SNES. I have SFII on my phone, but I don’t count that. :) I have always loved and enjoyed fighting games, but have never been particularly good at them as paying the rent tends to take priority over spending my time practicing moves. That being said, Street Fighter IV is a great game for all-comers, but there is definitely hardcore competition.

I preordered the Street Fighter® IV Mad Catz™ Bundle (PC) from the Capcom website with a great deal of anticipation and excitement. To my dismay I received an email on release day saying that they were out of stock and my package was backordered. I was frustrated but decided to wait for the stock to replenish because at the time I was excited about the discounted controller that is included; I’ll get to that in a second. Luckily my package shipped just 3 days after I got the backorder email so I didn’t have to wait that long to start street fighting. You can read about my experience with the Madcatz Fightpad here.

SFbundle

The installation took a normal length of time. A disc check is run each time the game is started since I purchased the physical disc and not a digital download version. After the disc check you are presented with a screen to either start the game, or configure your controls. I don’t know if this also happens on digital download versions, but I find it kind of odd that it always presents this screen as you can configure the controls inside the game. It’s not a big deal, just another step. Then you are presented with a screen to either start the game, change you “PC Settings”, or exit. Capcom is quickly becoming one of my favorite game publishes for their support of the PC platform. The settings have all of the options you come to expect from PC games: FPS display (shows the frames per second on screen), antialiasing, full screen/window mode, resolution, v-sync, texture filter, and more. An added setting you don’t normally see is the “Extra Touch” which adds a different effect of ink, watercolor, or posterization to the graphics. To be honest, I found the differences to be rather minimal and I actually prefer the game without the Extra Touch.

Hitting start logs you into Games for Windows Live and launches the game. I typically don’t care for Live, but I have to admit that it has worked rather well for the online multiplayer in this game. From the main menu of the game you can pick the different play modes: Arcade, Versus, Games for Windows Live Battle, Challenge, and Training; along with the menu items for Player Data, Gallery, Options, Live marketplace, Benchmark, and Open Guide. I won’t go into too much detail about each option as many are already familiar with the console versions of the game so I’ll try to bring up the PC specific options. Open guide simply opens up your Live menu like your Home button on the keyboard does. Benchmark runs a CPU fight to show you how well your system is running the game at your current settings. Marketplace will minimize your game and open up the GFWL program/menu which essentially just looks like a custom web browser. I assume it’s supposed to open to a SF4 specific page with downloadable content, but at the time of this writing it opens up to an Error page. Options are your game options for sound volumes, control config etc. Gallery shows you what you’ve unlocked and Player Data shows your player data for online matches and leaderboards.

Training mode lets you practice moves. Challenge mode lets you set parameters to take on a series of battles. Live battle is playing against players online over Live. Versus is to play single matches either against someone in the room with you, against a CPU fighter, or you can have two CPU fighters go at it.

Arcade mode is the single player mode where you progress through different CPU fighters through an extremely light and loose storyline. Going through the arcade mode with the different characters lets you unlock characters and more. There are 25 total characters. Each character has with their own move set and anime movie intros and endings.  The fighting in this game is classic Street Fighter and tons of fun. My only complaint is that the difficulty settings seem to be a bit off. Due to my noobness I played through on easiest (I tried other settings but kept getting my butt kicked). Sometimes I would beat characters in 10 seconds, but then other times the CPU seemed to be pulling off all these crazy grabs and just beat the crap out of me. It seemed very inconsistent as other times the same character that beat me the last game would just stand around letting me punch them.

For the most part, the special moves were kept the same as in legacy Street Fighters, but being the noob that I am, moves like Guile’s Flash Explosion are beyond my reach. Also, I had to look up in online guides what some of the symbols in the movelist meant. They chose some oddly confusing symbols for some of the directional moves.

Also in arcade mode you can enable an option so that while you are playing through, an online player can challenge you to a game. There’s actually a large community of players out there. So much so that when I enable that option, I’m barely able to start a solo game before I was challenged to an online game. The Live battles have several modes of Ranked, Player, and Championship. Player mode is like your “for fun” mode where you just play to play. Ranked lets you climb leaderboards and Championship mode you accumulate points by playing one online player after another, one match at a time.

You can see the connection of other players from a green/yellow/red signal bar. When connecting to another player with a green connection, gameplay has been really good and I didn’t notice any problems with the speed of the game. If you connect to someone with a slow or iffy connection, you’ll see the game slow down as if it started to go into slow motion. I found that to be an interesting way to solve lag issues.

Online you are going to run into some very good and hardcore players, so if you’re unskilled like I am, be prepared to get your butt-kicked… a lot. The game is definitely the most fun when you are playing against people at the same skill level as yourself. I have run into some cool people online that were fun to play against and even used the voice communications. I play games for fun, and always enjoy running into players who feel the same way.

In my opinion the most fun is playing against a friend in the room with you in versus mode. It’s just nice to know that there’s actually someone real that’s able to pull off all those moves and I can totally see having friends over for a SF tournament. The online is probably even more fun playing against someone you know as well, just so you can talk trash to each other and enjoy the graphics and funny parts of the game together.

Speaking of which, the game looks great with the graphics having been done in the drawn/painting style. Backgrounds look good and are rendered in 3D for added effect. The characters look really good, though they all seem to be on steriods. Their animations are fantastic. Fireballs and lighting have never look so good. Sound is excellent aside from the rather annoying announcer, but I believe you can turn his volume down. I’m not a big fan of the menu music, but that’s just a matter of taste.

If you’re a fan of Street Fighter, or fighting games in general, Street Fighter IV is a definite buy. Aside from the fact that fighters on PC are very rare, SF4 is a great game and will have you addicted to learning all the moves each character has in their arsenal. Having a fighter on PC has its advantages. Compared to its console counterparts, the load screens on PC are almost non-existant. Buy it and enjoy! I hope more fighters make their way to the PC.

System specifications used for this review:

Operating System: Windows XP Professional 64-bit
CPU: Intel Q6600 Quad-core 2.4ghz processor
Memory: 4 gig of dual channel Corsair RAM
Video: EVGA 8800 GTS (512mb)
Sound: Sound Blaster Titanium on 5.1 speakers
HD:
80 gig Raptor 10,000 RPM
Motherboard: MSI P6N Diamond