THE history of the Street Fighter franchise has been one of refinement and revision. The second installment is widely regarded as one of the best fighting games ever.
Game review: Ultra Street Fighter IV
Platforms - Xbox 360 (reviewed) / Playstation 3 / PC
Score: 8.5 / 10
Subsequent versions have riffed upon the formula, culminating in 2008’s Street Fighter 4, an acclaimed update which allowed novices into the fold while maintaining the Byzantine combo system beloved by millions.
Carefully considered evolution
A restless Capcom did not stop there, however. Ultra represents the fifth tweak on the last main installment in the series. Available initially as DLC for Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition - with a full retail release due later in the summer - it continues the carefully considered evolution of a fine game with tangible changes to its core gameplay.
The most obvious improvement is the expanded roster (which now stands at a dizzying 44), bolstered by the addition of five new combatants - Decapre, Elena, Hugo, Poison and Rolento - each vying to triumph over their international counterparts. Although the latter four will be familiar to anyone who has played Street Fighter X Tekken, they have revised and honed for the standalone franchise.
Although veterans of the game will find similarities between the new fighters and existing ones, they do not feel like reskins. Poison in particular is a fun character to take charge of, thanks to a skillset that thwarts enemies attempting air attacks. The one debutant to the fray, the masked Decapre, is a welcome arrival thanks to a intriguing fighting style. Essentially a charge character with a diverse range of finishing moves, she offers a very different Street Fighter experience.
Across the entire roster, the Ultra update now allows players to make use of several new attack mechanics, the highlight of which is Red Focus, which absorbs multiple hits, albeit at the cost of two energy bars. The game also allows your fighter to enter the arena of battle with both of their ultra combos, a move that requires carefully thought out tactics to fully exploit.
These, though, are only a few of the makeovers that Capcom has performed. From nuanced nips and tucks to existing characters, a suite of original stages, as well as new online modes, it is a fulsome and loving reworking of an already excellent fighter. Die hard fans will get the most out of the Ultra update, but critically, it remains a game that can be enjoyed just as much by novices.
TIPS AND TRICKS
1) Do not rely on your favourite characters from previous iterations of Street Fighter IV. The entire roster has undergone a process of subtle but influential revision, strengthening them in some areas and curbing other abilities that were felt to be overpowered. Play around and find a fighter that suits you.
2) The ability to take two Ultra combos into battle makes for an interesting tactical shift in some games. Take the time to decide how best to deploy them as they can make the difference between victory and failure
3) If you are an obsessive Street Fighter player, it may be worth investing in the Frame Data App released by Brady Games, which allows you to see exactly how long each moves takes to complete and how much damage it will inflict on your opponent.