Guile's better now. His faster Sonic Boom buffs his corner trapping game. Also, he can put shades on during a match.
The Street Fighter series has always had bizarre characters. Blanka's a green beast who can electrify himself. 12, from III, is a shapeshifting soldier. And, Dhalsim, anyone? But still, Hakan perhaps goes further into barmy territory than any character in Street Fighter history because of his Ultras. The Oil Coaster sees Hakan roll his victim around his body is a disgusting whirlwind of oil before slamming them into a wall. His second Ultra, the Oil Combination Hold, is an anti-air that sees Hakan lie on his back, turn around so he's on top, wriggle, then... shoot his opponent out of the hold, sending them tearing head first into the invisible arena wall. You go through two emotions when on the receiving end of the Oil Combination Hold. The first is disgust, because it looks, well, disgusting. The second is humiliation. The expression on your character's face as he or she heads towards the inevitable face slam is often hilarious. Ken's is the best. Be sure to check it out.
Street Fighter IV's cartooney, cel-shaded 2.5D look was as expressive as it was beautiful. Capcom has, with each of the ten new characters, again done a wonderful job of bringing old 2D sprites into the modern era. It's the little details that live long in the memory. Little things like Guy making his entrance by fly kicking through barrels, jailbird Cody nonchalantly walking off the stage when he wins a round, and English pugilist Dudley's humiliating rose attack. Capcom's larger than life character design continues to catch the eye.
Other new additions are just as successful as the new characters. The new arenas are easily the best in the game. Skyscraper Under Construction (Street Fighter's arenas have always had amazing titles), is one of many nods to Final Fight in the game. Atop the beams of a half-built skyscraper the fighters knock lumps out of each other with a huge statue of Mayor Mike Haggar looming large in the background. It's obviously Metro City. There's even an Easter Egg to be found, a potential hint towards who may yet make a playable appearance if Capcom decides releasing new characters as DLC is a good idea.
Solar Eclipse just about edges Skyscraper Under Construction as the greatest arena of them all. It's hard to keep your eye on the fight, so exotic is the safari oasis background. Zebras, hippos, giraffe and flocks of birds gently go about their business, even daring to edge towards the foreground. Day turns to night as the moon eclipses the sun. And the uplifting dance track that accompanies the carnage is a real foot tapper.
And now, the hugely important matter of online. Street Fighter IV's online game wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. While we'll have to wait till the game's release to properly test the game's netcode, feature wise Super impresses.
Player Points are awarded for winning online matches, and taken away for losing. Battle Points work the same, but are tied to specific characters. The idea is to encourage players to experiment online with characters they're perhaps unfamiliar with, free from the risk of ruining your Battle Point rank for your main. Your Player Point rank, then, is supposed to reflect your overall skill.
Supplementing the basic online ranked mode are two new modes. Team battle allows for two versus two, three versus three and four versus four fights. Will the mode spawn Street Fighter squads? For me, competitive fighting gameplay has always been about the players, not teams. It'll be interesting to see how popular Team battle proves to be.