The Five: Street Fighter IV
The ultimate old-school brawler, Street Fighter is back with a shiny new pair of roman numerals attached. There's a thin line separating those who can move their fingers insanely fast with control and precision from those who just move them insanely fast and really spastically. Street Fighter IV will let you know which side of the fence you're on.
1. You can now get your beat-down on in stunning 2.5-D. The fighting still takes place in a 2-D plane, but the fighters are now rendered in 3-D. It sounds confusing -- and potentially ugly -- but it works. This is the clearly the coolest-looking SF to date.
2. The same graphics leap that adds depth to the fighters physically adds depth to them emotionally, as well. Hilarious reaction shots foreshadow the assault they're about to be on the receiving end of.
3. Expect more of a SF2 feel than an SF3 feel. Street Fighter III was a kick -- literally -- if you knew how to play, but it was just too complicated for most gamers. SF4 bags the complex Parry System of SF3 and puts you back on the offensive with chargeable and unblockable Focus Moves. The result is that you'll be able to go deep into the game without sacrificing every other aspect of your life.
3. The new Revenge Meter helps even the playing field. If you're getting your ass kicked, your revenge meter will fill. When it maxes out, you'll be able to unleash an Ultra Move that -- hopefully -- will put you back in the game. On the flip side, since you need a full revenge meter to use an Ultra Move, if you're so outclassing your foe that you're not getting hit, you won't be able to humiliate them by using your ultimate and most powerful move as a finisher. That's what you get for being a bully!
5. Chun-Li's thighs are still huge.
It's still too early to tell what console gamers will make of Street Fighter IV. The game hits arcades in Japan this week and the folks at Capcom were ultra-vague about when we may see a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 port. It will happen, though, and when it does we'll see if two-and-a-half dimensions are enough to compete with 3-D fighters like Soul Caliber and Virtua Fighter for the thumbs of gamers.
This preview was based on a hands-on demo of the game at E3.