It’s been ten years since the last version of Street Fighter was released in 1999. Not only was Street Fighter III: Third Strike – Fight for The Future the best out of the entire Street Fighter III series and, some would have argued, the best since 1994’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo (henceforth referred to as SSF2T). It seemed to be the closing chapter for the game as well. There have been a few crossover titles such as SNK Vs Capcom, but for the most part it seemed the Street Fighter franchise had died, relegated to memory in an era where 3D fighters were just about the only way to get your hands on a fighting game.
When word came a couple of years ago about an all new Street Fighter game, many immediately thought it would have to be 3D, not so much like the earlier EX titles developed by Akira, but more like a vastly refined EX3 for the modern age: faster, smoother, better character selection and obviously taking advantage of today’s computing power. It turned out that Street Fighter IV is actually a 2D game but has a number of 3D elements which make for a very interesting look.
The characters have depth that can only be achieved with 3D models, but they fight as they always have (bar the EX titles) on a two dimensional plane . The visuals are probably going to be the first thing that immediately divides players, both old and new to the Street Fighter franchise. Gone are the pubescent animé-like representation of the characters first introduced in 1995’s Street Fighter Alpha, in their place there are overly muscular cel-shaded 3D characters. This look you will either both love and continue to appreciate as you play, or it will simply deter you from ever picking up the controller again. Thankfully, it seems that the style has found favour with the vast majority of fans. As far as we are concerned no fighter has ever looked so unique. The colour palette is truly impressive; not only are the backdrops against which the bouts take place vivid in their representation, they are probably as varied as any great modern fighting game.
Classic locations are re-drawn with a completely different take on them yet still staying true to what many consider the true beginning of the Street Fighter legacy in Street Fighter II: World Warrior. Chun-Li’s original stage has been re-drawn in such a way as to pay homage to the original, but is in essence presented how it would be had Street Fighter II been made in 2009. It’s these small yet significant touches that make Street Fighter IV come alive, be it an air field in West Africa or a distillery in Eastern Europe. Each location is reminiscent of what we first saw in Street Fighter II.