Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PCiPhone

The legendary Capcom fighting series returns.

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9Out of 10
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The Focus Attack will keep the pros playing
The Focus Attack will keep the pros playing

The Focus Attack will keep the pros playing

The Focus Attack is what gives IV its strategic depth. It's what will cement the game's future as a tournament title. Triggered by pressing middle kick and middle punch at the same time, the Focus Attack is intended to be a single strike that absorbs an attack and stuns your opponent, perhaps setting them up for a multi-hit combo or a devastating, health bar clearing Ultra. There are three levels to the Focus: simply tapping the buttons will result in a weak Focus Attack, holding them for about a second then releasing when you see your character flash will result in a medium powered Focus Attack, and holding the buttons for about two-and-a-half seconds will result in an unblockable Focus Attack.

On the face of it the Focus Attack seems useless. It appears too slow and predictable to be an effective tool. But dig a little deeper, perhaps spend half-an-hour messing about with it in the practice mode, and you'll find it an indispensable and fun technique. Doing the Focus Attack as your opponent gets up, timed so the unblockable hit lands just at the right time, is incredibly satisfying. The Focus Attack can be used to "cancel" certain moves, too. Perform a dragon punch with Ryu, for example, which knocks your opponent into the air, then cancel the recovery part of the special move animation with the Focus Attack, then cancel the Focus with a dash (double tap forward) - this gives you just enough time to perform his multi-fireball Ultra so it hits your falling opponent. This is advanced play only the dedicated will be able to pull off, but for fighting game fans it's heaven. It makes Street Fighter IV feel new despite so much of it feeling familiar.

The Focus Attack is intertwined with the new Revenge Gauge. This gauge supplements the EX/Super meter by only filling when you take damage or when you absorb a hit with the Focus Attack. Once it's filled above halfway your spectacular Ultra move becomes available. The motion for this might be two fireballs and all three punches or a charge down back, down forward then down back and up forward and all three kicks. Either way, your Ultra is usually the most damaging move at your character's disposal, and because it only becomes available when you've had your ass kicked, last minute comebacks are a possibility in every round.

Despite the simplicity of this system, it's ground breaking for the Street Fighter series. Once you realise you can hit opponents with Ultras following a "Focus Attack Dash Cancel", once your brain readjusts to the fact that you can fill up the Revenge Gauge by absorbing projectiles from projectile-happy opponents, Street Fighter IV stops feeling weird, stops feeling slow, and becomes one of the greatest fighting games ever made.

The Ultras are a joy to behold

The Ultras are a joy to behold

Experimentation becomes a thrill. Experimenting with the four brand new characters, French Fei Long/Zangief hybrid Abel, American fatso Rufus, Mexican Lucha libre El Fuerte and secret agent Crimson Viper is as fun as it was with Ryu and Ken in the early 90s. Experimenting with all the secret characters, Fei Long, Cammy, Rose, Dan, Sakura, Gen, Rose, Akuma, boss Seth and Street Fighter débutante Gouken (Ryu and Ken's master and Akuma's brother) is just as fun. Simply messing about, marvelling at the Ultras, the throws, listening to the opponent specific lines of dialogue, it's just great for Street Fighter fans.

A special mention has to go out to the art style. Screen shots do not do the beauty of this game justice. Capcom's gone for a bright, brash cel-shaded look that sticks two fingers up at "next-gen" efforts at photorealism. It works brilliantly. The characters are more expressive than any seen in a fighter. Just before you catch your opponent with an Ultra, you see their eyes and mouths widen in horror as time slows and you charge up your hit. Punches almost force eyeballs to pop out of their sockets. Kicks to the stomach bend spines. Knock downs rock the eye-catching backgrounds. The violence here isn't bone-crunching gruesome, like Tekken, it's cartoon gorgeous.

Online play is, as expected, robust, the netcode performing on a similar level to that found in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. On the whole it works in a basic, functional way, but Capcom has innovated by allowing other online players to interrupt your Arcade mode play and challenge you to ranked and player matches. Not only does it make playing the Arcade mode (and unlocking all the hidden characters) more interesting, but it gives the game a real arcade feel.

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User Comments

gomo's Avatar


why is the "genre" for this "beat 'em up"?... this and a lot of other games you have labled as "beat 'em up" should be under "fighting game"... beat 'em up's are games like Final Fight. I know some people like to mush up the two terms, but they describe 2 pretty distinct types of game...
Posted 19:16 on 13 July 2009
Ogre's Avatar


Still waiting for the PC version...
Nice review though :)
Posted 23:12 on 12 March 2009
teemoe's Avatar
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Get ready 4 my online azzwhoopnz!
Posted 21:33 on 01 March 2009
John's Avatar
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I'm in agreement that the cut-scenes are so insulting and horrible that you will wish you had never seen them. I know my soul died a little after each video.

The Boss is poorly made.. especially considering that even the goofy diaper-wearing boss in SF3 was at least creatively different (with the fire and ice sides) and wasn't ripping off other character's moves (usually reserved for a generic mimic character)

I don't think Viper looks ridiculous, but Rufus does though... I find him to be the worst designed SF character (biker mustache.. braided hawk... an unzipped jumpsuit WITH A HAPPY TRAIL!?) with El Fuerte's backstory the most retarded. (fighting to find the perfect recipe? WTF?)... with some character's like Rose showing up when far superior characters like Ibuki don't make the cut :(

I find the Ultra Combo's flawed in that some characters have ones that don't stick and others have ones that pull you in making them nearly unavoidable... and the damage they do is simply ludicrous. Ludicrous.

Those are my major complaints next to everyone only picking Ryu, Akuma and Ken online.. it gets old FAST.
Posted 12:56 on 19 February 2009
Ginger_Jesus's Avatar


Ok now I'm getting this for sure. Excellent review.
Posted 22:28 on 16 February 2009
rico_rico's Avatar


i score it 8/10 because it's boring
Posted 18:05 on 16 February 2009
Bloodstorm's Avatar


Yea, you're right about the bosses, i just wish the trend will end some day.

[fanboy mode]Terry Bogartwould own Ken lolololololol[/fan boy mode]
Posted 16:36 on 16 February 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar


I don't think I have ever seen a fighter get a 10 from a non-official source. 9 will do! Great review, although I wouldn't knock marks off for the final boss. If that was the case, then DOA4 would be a 2/10!
Posted 16:14 on 16 February 2009
thpcplayer's Avatar


videogamer's top 10 most anticipated 2009
10. diablo 3
9. street fighter iv
8. resident evil 5
7. half life episode 3
6. halo 3 odst
5. cod mw 2
4. pes 2010
3. bioshock 2
2. god of war 3
1. heavy rain
Now first game of this list has arrived and it has got a 9 not a 10!
This review is nice and i'll be picking this one on ps3 but i'll also keep an eye on the pc version coming later. But the question is this- Which will be the first 10/10 of 2009. as most of the most anticipated games are due near christmas. it could be resident evil 5(my guess)
Posted 15:41 on 16 February 2009
Karlius's Avatar


I'm just glad you played with the idea of a perfect score. I think whenever I see you on Live your on SFII on Arcade lol.

I applaud your loyalty to the brand and commend you upon probably the best and most critique review of this game on at least the net and more than likely the world. I will be buying this one for sure. A 100% real fan knowing about the genre their speaking about is a breath of fresh air.

It's reviews like the above that have kept me coming back for more at Videogamer and Pro-G before it. Thank You
Posted 14:58 on 16 February 2009
wyp100's Avatar


@ Bloodstorm

Woah! SvC2 better than MvC2? We could argue for days on that one!

Every fighter having a cheap boss might be the case, but just because everyone does doesn't make it right. A bigger problem with Seth, though, is that he's a lazy character from Capcom's point of view. M. Bison wasn't lazy, and he was SFII's boss. I reviewed it on PS3 btw.

@ Karlius

I was debating whether to give it a 10, but in the end decided against it simply because of the flaws outlined in the article. On a personal front, I think the Super Turbo engine, and the 3rd Strike engine, are superior. But that's the hardcore fighter in me talking.
Posted 12:20 on 16 February 2009
Karlius's Avatar


Wes you let me down I thought as a supreme fan of the series you would have to give it full 10/10 marks and seen through any flaws with your rose tinted street fighter iv glasses on. : )
Posted 10:48 on 16 February 2009
Wido's Avatar


Quailty review shall have to pick it up when I have some left over lolly.
Posted 10:31 on 16 February 2009
Rickitis's Avatar


@ Corrupt0Killa-TomButters

It was bravo but close :)

Looking forward to playing this but I think £30 is alot for a fighter, I always wait for them to be around £15. It looks awesome though!
Posted 10:19 on 16 February 2009
Woolies Staff's Avatar
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Woolies Staff

I wish this week would get a move on.
Posted 10:19 on 16 February 2009

Game Stats

Street Fighter IV
Out of 10
Street Fighter IV
  • Online play solid
  • Focus Attack truly innovative
  • Based on the brilliant Super Turbo engine
  • Bare bones single-player
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 20/02/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , iPhone
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Beat 'em Up
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: BBFC 12
Site Rank: 812 121
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