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Quick rant on Mass Effect 2

By: BatRastered Feb 4, 2010 | 3 Comments

WTF is up with this import utility?

First of all, let me say that I loved the first Mass Effect, and so far the sequel is living up to its legacy. Having said that*,  I had some issues on the first full day of playing it.

I have a small issue with the load times. I don't mind loading before and after a mission. I don't even mind the elevator load times this time around. The problem is when you die during a mission (usually because that dickwad Shepard won't take cover behind that wall that's RIGHT FUCKING IN FRONT OF HIM!! A. A. I'm pushing A!! FUCK!)... Sorry, anyway, when you die you have to sit through an annoying loading screen. WTF? Why is this the only game that does that? I've played plenty of games with checkpoint/autosave like this that load instantly after a death (e.g. Halo). What is so complicated about this? It's not like it's loading a different level, it should already be in memory. F!

I had a big problem with the import utility. If you don't know, Mass Effect 2 allows you to import your save game from the original Mass Effect. This preserves some of your decisions from the first game and gives you a monetary bonus and a small experience bonus (one level) and either a paragon or renegade boost depending on how you finsished the first one.

When I started the import utility and selected my HDD as the storage device, it said no save games found. WTF? I looked in the xbox menu for the data on the HDD and it's there... In fact I had three different save games from the first game. Hmm... Tried a few more times, no luck. Went on the interwebs and found some forum posts bitching about it... Turns out if you swapped xboxes between beating the first game and running the import utility, it doesn't work. Somehow the save game is tied to the original xbox and there's no way to copy it over. However, the save game still works with the original game... so... I have no fucking idea what's going on at this point... Seems to be a bug, and considering the defect rate on the xbox hardware and the length of time between these two releases, a bug that could affect a great deal of people. I hope they fix this, but for those of you effected by it, here's the workaround: I hope you still have your original Mass Effect disc, because you need to pop that in and load up the last save you made before killing Saren (you do still have that save, right?). Kill his weak ass again, make your decision about who should run the council, or whatever, wait for the credits to roll, and exit. Your new autosave should be importable now. Fucking ridiculous.

To: EA/Bioware. Fix this stupid shit! Thanks, your friends at**.

*Thanks to Lary David, I can no longer say or write that phrase without smiling.

**I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite site on the internet.



Mass Effect 2 review

By: goukijones Feb 3, 2010 | 1 Comments

How to be a space renegade. Starring Jimmy Shepard commander of the PwNormandy! Kill aliens and squad mates and be a complete ass about it the entire time. Mass Effect 2!

It took me about 35 hours to play through Mass Effect 2. I did 98% of the side quests and all of the loyalty missions. I'm ready to tell you my opinion. Mass Effect 2 is totally super! Below you can ready my random takes and thoughts as they pop into my head while think about my experience with Mass Effect 2 during the last week.

There's been a lot of changes to the game. The combat and the dialogue game play are very similar to Mass Effect 1. First major change I noticed is no more Mako. The Mako was the tank/jeep you would drive around in Mass Effect 1 when you go dropped onto planets. Now you get dropped right on a linear path to your objective when you land on a planet. I only care, because I liked driving the tank/jeep around looking for items and loot.

Experience, Credits, Minerals all have specific values now and are used for different item upgrades and store purchases. The credits and mineral gathering are cool. You hack safes and PDA's for credits. I enjoy how you scan the planet looking for stuff, it's a cool mini-game and separates you from the regular game play. What absolutely seems absurd is somebody didn't realize you don't get experience for killing enimes. You get experience from completing missions and quests only. You don't ever level up during combat and that sucks.

Minerals are now used to upgrade your guns. You only get a couple of different guns to choose from and all the upgrades are universal. This is one of the first things that I didn't like. I liked having different guns with different sets of enhancements and different biotic armband thingys to choose from. This is also the reason why there is no inventory to manage on Mass Effect 2. Good and bad.

When you orbit planets now you have a scanner that you can "rub" all over the planet looking for spikes in the scanner for materials. You have a set number of probes you can luanch down into the planet and until you upgrade the scanner it's slow as shit. Fun for people who like to comb games for secrets. Planet depleted!

There are no more identical warehouses full of space thugs and random Jimmys to talk to. No more elevators either, although its just a loading scene of an elevator moving through a holo-map of the Normandy spaceship. The loading screens are cool though. I only miss the news of me ripping ass althrough the galaxy while you rode the elevators in Mass Effect 1. Plus all this adds up to make the galaxy not seem so big.

The voice acting is spot on again and the conversations are why this game is such a success. I am such an asshole in this game and it is so much fun. Female Shepards unite! +34 Renegade was the highest count I got in my first run through of Mass Effect 2. In Mass Effect 1 I got Renegade +25 after killing that entire colony that was poisoned. lol. The Mass Effect series is awesome!

Michael Dorn is Warf in Star Trek The Next Generation, the Klingon Jimmy! In Mass Effect 2 he voices every Krogan in the game. The Krogan are the most stereotypical race in the game. They have alien dog fighting on their home planet Michael Vick style. They all belong to different Krogan gangs represented by colors and names. Shoot first and axe questions later, the truth is ... it's all about the paper.   

During conversations now there are real-time events where you can be good or evil and those are fun and keep you paying attention. I pushed a guy out of the window once, and let random squad mates kill random people at will. Totally awesome.

The game is fun evil more than good. The story is interesting to watch and if you have a character to import from Mass Effect 1 you get a special feeling when you remember busting a cap in that Krogan that was on your team. The Krogans in Mass Effect 2 remind me of killing him and hate me because I destroyed the "cure" for their people also. Fuck'em.

I'm gonna try play through number two on insanity difficulty level because normal was just way to easy. You'll get 35 hours easy out of Mass Effect 2 and its a lot of fun. I say buy Jimmy! Unless you are the REAL Jimmy and will just Gamefly it now and wait two years for it to come in the mail. Don't be a Jimmy!

Buy Darksiders from Best Buy and receive a free action figure. My Darksiders action figure came in the mail today and you're not going to believe these pictures.

Dear Best Buy and THQ,              

                   You should be ashamed of yourselves. First of all there was never any clear information about the Darksiders Action figure bonus when the game first came out. There was no information, if you had to fill out an online form to get the action figure and when you called or spoke to a Best Buy employee they didn't have a clue. Finally after digging through all types of forums, I came to the conclusion that the figure would just be mailed to me in a couple of weeks. This is what came in the mail today, this is exactly how I took it from the mail person this morning.

darksiders action figure

This is what came in the mail today.

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Bioshock 2 Launch trailer and SE unboxing

By: goukijones Feb 3, 2010 | 4 Comments

Bioshock 2 will be available 2-9-10 and I can't wait. Check out these two new videos from 2K games.

Bioshock 2 launch trailer *NEW. I'm a huge fan of the first game. Played through it 3 times and just recently again last summer. Missed to of those damn voice boxes and cost me an almost perfect gamerscore. Can't wait to play this, I will be on lock down 2-9-10.

Bioshock 2 TV teaser. For some reason whatever shows I do watch on TV I never see commercials like this. So I gonna post them so everyone gets a chance to enjoy them.

Bioshock 2 Special Edition unboxing *NEW. This video is funny, watch it. It still extremely hard for me to justify the purshase of the Bioshock 2 Special Edition, but the book looks cool and if you frame ($$$) those pictures then, maybe then it would be cool.

Visit the official website:
Visit the Cult of Rapture:
bioshock 2 box art
Bioshock 2 $5 off, $10 credit and free shipping
 For Xbox 360 or PS3. known for its social media!

Follow us on Twitter

@goukijones CEO and Editor in Chief. I like to drink whiskey and play video games. I also like to find the cheapest place to buy the new releases. Follow me find out how to Never pay full price for video games.

@batrastered CTO and Editor. The man is in charge of the programing and mechanics of the site. Batty also enjoys video games like Borderlands and Portal. Follow him for no reason at all.

@fnjimmy Official Mascot and Editor. Jimmy's once in a blue moon random tweets are hilarious. Otherwise you will just get constant updates of when he turns Tomb Raider Underworld like a Jimmy!

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Story Image

FightStick Guide

By: goukijones Feb 2, 2010 | 12 Comments

This guide will put you on the path of style and savings. Everyone can have a FightStick now Jimmy!

All the prices on the sticks jump around. If you're looking to save money just wait for something to go on sale. Almost all of the links offer free shipping.


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Community Blog

Crimson Relic

SSFIV Developer Blog: Character Design

By: Crimson Relic Feb 2, 2010 | 2 Comments

Developers of Super Street Fighter 4 talk about character design.

Hey everyone, it's been awhile! This is Tsukamoto.

Last week our Dev Blog took a break as Ms. Shiozawa's blog featured a special update announcing the sale date! After watching the anime trailer, Juri's way cool closing line of "This won't hurt a bit" has been stuck in my head.

Well then, this week I'd like to talk with designer Mr. Kamei about the character designs. What kind of episodes took place during the development of Street Fighter IV?

-- First off, tell us about how the character designs for SFIV were decided on.

I spoke about this a little in the 2nd blog entry, but when deciding the direction of the SFIV characters there were quite a bit of twists and turns. In trying to determine their shape, with the 3D body, silhouette, and volume, we came up with many different variations before deciding. For example, we had a really thin Ryu, a larger Ryu, a Ryu with a big body but small the end, we felt that the current model was his best look in 3D. But before we got to that point, there were over 10 different variations of Ryu.

Ryu's History

-- What was the general feeling you were going for?


We wanted to bring the flavor of the old SF to life. Basically, in 3D games elongated bodies look pretty cool but we thought it wouldn't really fit well with a fighting game. With the exaggerated movements according to the game systems, the characters have to move many times faster than a normal person would. So we had to do modeling and deformations in order to match that, and the more we do the more it becomes unsightly to see. So in order to get both a cool look and easy-to-understand movements working together, we setting on doing deformations of the old pixel style. With pixels, you can easily understand their silhouette, and we can also include some cool deformations. By adding deformations, we can have easy-to-understand expressions in just a few frames of movement.

Even for female characters, they can have facial expressions where you see them taking merciless damage.

Yes we included that. But personally, I'd like to improve upon that and have the characters sustain injuries. Everyone looks cool when they win without taking damage, but if you just squeeze out a victory then they should look all beat up (laughs).

A face they wouldn't want to show to anyone. But, if you get too detailed with that then the game's rating will shoot up, so you'd have to pull that off very well.

Aside from the face, fighting games have a lot of intense movements. A jab punch comes out in 3 frames - 3/60ths of a second - but in that short time we'd like you to be able to recognize the forearm, the upper arm, and if their fist is clinched or not - that's the kind of silhouette we're aiming for. So that's why we basically haven't changed our way of thinking from the pixel era.

-- The movements in SFIV definitely feel like they are easy to understand.


You know, in SFIV we've added a transformation ability to every part. For example, when a character throws a punch, their fist will scale slightly to become larger. During the pixel era, in order to make an impression on the players, when characters threw punches their fists were drawn just a little bit bigger. So depending on the character, there are scale animations to exaggerate parts of their body as they throw attacks. Internally, its only a 1.05 magnification, so if you take a quick look at it you won't notice, but I think the silhouette will leave an impression.

An Image That Shows The Scale

Without scaling, you don't really get the good feeling that is Street Fighter. It would be more accurate, sure, but it would be a little harder to understand. This is one of the benefits and drawbacks of 3D models.

Yeah, 3D models as-is aren't very interesting.

Yeah, they're too straightforward. During the 2D era when everything was hand-drawn, the designers could think "This is a really heavy punch, so let's have the character's face warp a little bit, mouth wide-open, and we'll draw their fist a little bigger" and then they could animate it that way, but for 3D models that type of thing became a little difficult. At one point, we did think about making it more realistic, but then after giving it more thought we considered not making it in 3D at all. But one of SFIV's themes is replicating the great things about 2D in 3D, so we pressed on...this is probably one of the hardest things for the designers to tackle.

It took a lot of steps to get to that themes, but in the end I feel like we were able to stick to our roots and make a design, like the pixel era, where you can understand a lot of things in just a short span of frames.

-- Speaking of pixels, the SFII and Alpha series styles were pretty different. Were there any episodes in relation to this?


As the Alpha series was based on anime, the deformations were more severe and the information content was less than compared to the SFII pixels. So what happened for the new characters such as Guy and Cody, everyone had their own personal image of what they should look like. Even just asking the development staff, no one could agree on what Guy should look like (laughs). As there were a lot of opinions, it was pretty hard to get to a place we would all agree on. Of course, this is true for any series, but it was the most difficult for the Alpha characters.

-- It seems like it'd be easiest and fastest to just copy the silhouette from the pixel art and make the model from that.


We did that at first, but in just making them 3D as-is there were various problems that popped up.

Guy was particularly difficult.

As Guy was the first Alpha character we ported over, we had to spend a lot of time thinking in what way to do the deformations. If you look at Ryu you'll get a good understanding of this, but in fighting games, most characters basic pose has their knees bent. They don't stand straight, but somewhat bent over. But Guy stands straight up with one knee straight. So he ends up towering over Ryu, and in 3D, what happens is that we have to make his legs short. His kicks have less range than his punches (laughs).

Guy's Kick

For pixel art, we can just draw the legs long and they'll look cool! As Alpha was 2D, we could have these cool and cute anime kicks for all the characters, and that was one of the Alpha series's charms. But in 3D that becomes a difficult thing.

-- Were there any other difficult characters?


....Chun. (laughs)

Yeah, Chun was a handful! Her model was changed so many times, I lost count! (laughs)

We changed her face even after the loketests.

The Chun-Li from then and now are completely different.

From the questionnaires at the loketests, we realized that the players wanted a better Chun. So we finished up all the other characters first, then our lead modeling designer appointed the "Month Of Chun Improvement" and we got to work (laughs).

Yeah, I remember that (laughs). We did that more than once, Arcade Month of Chun Improvement, Console Month of Chun Improvement...

Our lead designer was the one who would make the adjustments on her model body, then as her face changed (facial expressions) we'd have to fix that as well. I was the designer in charge of Chun-Li's facial expressions. So then the lead designer would make an adjustment to her body, and I'd follow up with the facial adjustment. Then we'd take a look at it, and if it didn't feel right we'd have to fix it again. That went on for quite a while.

-- Were there any characters where things went smoothly, or that you liked working on?


I'll have to go with Honda. Also, Dhalsim, Zangief, and Blanka. I'd played SFII when I was a kid, and I feel that their image in SFIV is the best match to that time. Its just how I feel, but I think that big strong characters are the easiest to reproduce.

-- Dhalsim is a pretty unique character.


Yes...speaking of, Dhalsim was one of the first characters we were able to get up on screen, after we figured out how to do Ryu. It was Ryu, Ken, Blanka, and Dhalsim. After figuring out the design direction with Ryu, Ken was easy enough to follow suit. Then Ono asked if we couldn't make some of the more unique characters, so we decided to make Blanka and Dhalsim.

When SFIV was still just in the inspection stages, we still hadn't officially gotten the green light for development. The developers as well as Ono were still trying to figure out just what "IV" would be.

I thought, "This might be the last time I get to make a Street Fighter character, so I'm just going to do what I want! Give Dhalsim as many bones as I like!" So as a result, Dhalsim's preparation got the elegant treatment (laughs).

A Picture From Back Then

Yeah, thank goodness we gave it our all back then. Its all about our love - if we didn't love the game, it wouldn't have been made.

-- Kind of surprising that Chun-Li wasn't among the first models to be made.


Yeah, we didn't have Chun-Li. If we think about The Month of Chun Improvement, if she'd been around back then then development would have come to a screeching halt! (laughs) Oh, I don't mean that as anything bad against Chun!

The Month of Chun Improvement was pretty heavy. Did it make you hate Chun?

Not at all. There are other characters who turned my dreams into nightmares.

-- Such as?


...Dhalsim. (laughs) At first, we couldn't get Sim's stretching animation right at all. In particular, his arms would get jagged, and we couldn't get them to stretch beyond a certain point without getting all messy. I'd always end up saying "Curse you Sim, why do you have to move like this! This is impossible in 3D!"

I remember we asked if it was okay if Dhalsim's arms only stretched a little bit. Okada's answer to that was "No!" (laughs) But we eventually got them stretching beautifully!

Dhalsim's Stretchy Arms

-- Is there anything else you'd like to point out about the SFIV character design?


What I'd like the players to notice is the level of detail given to SFIV's shader. Its a bit difficult to sum up with a shader is, but it's something that really adds a nice touch to the outward appearance of the 3D models. If you look at the expressions during Focus Attack or at the results screen, this will give you an idea of SFIV's unique shader. The extra touching effects in the PC version also come from the shader. Even with the same model, the shader can really add an extra sense of quality.

-- You mean the poster or watercolor look effect! That's the shader?


That's right. The shader has many different uses and tools, but in SFIV what we were going for was the moving painting look. Make the artwork of Street Fighter come to life, in 3D, and give it a sense of depth and presence - we felt that would be the most interesting expression for the game, and that's how we developed our shader.

As we re-did Ryu's model over and over again and looked for our direction, we also advanced our shader at the same time. I feel its a very unique expression, so I would be happy if everyone were to take note of it.

-- Are there any last words you'd like to leave to the fans who are looking forward to the character designs?


With SSFIV, since we had the experience of SFIV behind us we thought we'd be able to complete the development in no time, but this time as well we tinkered with it right up until the deadlines. The characters of SF are all very individualistic, so getting that to properly come across in 3D takes some trial and error. But in the end, I feel the new characters retain that high quality feel, and are designed to fit right in in SSFIV! If you have any thoughts after buying the game, I'd love to hear them. Please shoot me a line!

Well, we mostly talked about arcade SFIV, but I hope you all enjoyed today's entry.

The qualifiers for the National Tournament are under way! Arcade players, do your best! We here at the offices are praying that the players will really enjoy the tournament!

Well then, see you next week!



First Q games

By: reipuerto Feb 1, 2010 | 9 Comments

Games, games, games and then some! But where are the number sales...

What better way to start off the year than to go broke right?

Within the first Quarter of this year, 2010 will be a year to rival the insane '07. With games already out, like Mass Effect 2, DarkSiders, and Bayonetta already out and making a splash, this Q1, first quarter, will be one to talk about.

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Darksiders curb surfing

By: goukijones Jan 26, 2010 | 3 Comments

Exclusive HD video of some serious dancing in Darksiders.

A little glitchiness on the rails in Darksiders translates into some seriously bad ass, Westcoast, old school, gangsta dance known as "Curb Surfing."



Darksiders review

By: goukijones Jan 26, 2010 | 5 Comments

A brilliant and classy blend of different adventure games. Excellent level design and a story that keeps you watching every cut scene. Lacked in graphics and replay ability, but that shouldn't stop you from giving this game a once over.

I was right around 20 hours of game play in Darksiders when I finally beat it. I did near the end go back through a few levels to see if I could get any items I missed. The back drop for the game is post apocalyptic. Where the cop cars are the hardest cars to destroy as you adventure in the world like a Zelda/Metroid style game. You can lock onto enemies, use your "boomerang type weapon" to hit switches on the other side of the room. Grapple hook and swing across giant gaps. And even double jump and glide down like you had a "rocket pack type" hang glide ability. This type of adventuring is fun and is a good style for this game.

The combat was my favorite part of course. You could lock onto a specific target and toggle through multiple enemies. You could also fight the entire room by running around and using different magic and stuff. You get a ton of weapon options which can instantly be swapped out during combat for some amazing super high combos. The combat sometimes felt like the fighting in Batman Arkham Asylum, but with more control. Fighting while on the horse always felt like a great showdown and was one of my favorite things in the game. Unfortunately for all the combat it just seemed to be not enough.

The graphics needed a lot of work, Darksiders seemed super rushed when it came to the graphics or maybe just under developed. I have never seen frame rate issues and screen lag this bad in my life. So bad at times it looked as if you were underwater. The screen had sort a weird shaky wave to it. The lines on the characters were just off and never looked right. The cut scenes were much cleaner and the excellent voice acting keeps you watching the cinemas. Overall not bad graphics at all, but just not polished properly.

This game is definitely a rent. A long play through could last you up to 25 hours. Experienced gamers could probably beat it 10-12 hours. I'm telling you to play it though, I loved it and the sequel looks promising. Jimmy!

Darksiders for PS3 as low as $27.99 free shipping

Darksiders for Xbox 360 as low as $26.00 free shipping


Community Blog

Crimson Relic

SSFIV Developer Blog: Release Date and More!

By: Crimson Relic Jan 26, 2010 | 6 Comments

Developers of SSFIV talk about the costume packs, Collector's Edition, as well as give the release date for the game in Japan.


Hello everyone!
I reeeeeally want to write about the Tohoku qualifiers! But as today is a special update, I've got something different to talk about!

Today, it also seems that Capcom is announcing a new title for the Xbox 360! To go along with that, I've also got some SSFIV news as well. Big news!

First, the sale date has finally been decided!

On sale April 28 (Tuesday) 2010!
The price is 4,990 yen!
What a steal!
(For Xbox 360 and Playstation 3)

Also, the Super Classic Pack of 3rd alternate costumes for Guile, Blanka, Dhalsim, Gen, and Fei Long will be immediately available for free download!
(But, if you don't get it soon, from 7/1 you'll have to buy it.)

Super Classic Pack

^This is what you'll be getting! Fei-Long is just too cool. And I personally like Dhalsim's Indian look.

But wait, there's more!
As special content exclusive to the Xbox 360, we're including a new anime that focuses on Juri! (Only available in Japan) This anime comes from Director Kizaki of "Afro Samurai" fame, and the well-known Japanese animation studio GONZO! Which means, its incredibly high-quality.

Brand New Animation

^A shot from the opening scene. Looks just like a panel from an American comic book.

Brand New Animation

^Chun-Li's in bad shape. No ribbons around her hair buns, and without her earrings, this is a very raw look for Chun, who has been badly injured.

Brand New Animation

^Smiling Juri, she seems nice enough. Looks like she's holding...a person?!

The preview trailer for this new animation has been released today! Check it out on the official site under "Trailers".

But that's not all, I've got more.
We're also going to be selling a fully-loaded "Collectors Package"!

And what is it fully loaded with?

First off is the "Character Soundtrack Collection". A soundtrack CD featuring the remix themes of all the SSFIV character's music!

There are many fans who are really passionate about the character themes in Street Fighter. As we got all character themes in SSFIV, now you've got a great opportunity to listen to them! On the way to work or school, while driving...however you like!

Next is the "All Promotional Video Collection". We're including all the promotional videos and trailers that have been made for SFIV as well as SSFIV! That's about 30 movies! ...We couldn't get the very last SSFIV PV to be released in there, but aside from that one, everything else!

I think the trailers for SFIV and SSFIV are cooler than any other game out there. I may have all this stuff for work, but I'm really happy that I can get it for my personal use, and looking forward to it!

And last is the "Character Art Collection". A wonderful art book including sketch-style illustrations for all SSFIV characters. But that's not all! There's also a mini-story for SSFIV included as well!

As we made this "Character Art Collection" in mind with the idea that you'd look at it while listening to the "Character Soundtrack Collection", the illustrations follow the same order as the songs! So its like of like a lyrics sheet. So just like the soundtrack, the last page will feature liner notes from the composer Mr. Fukuzawa, Sound Designer Mr. Endo, myself, and of course Lil' Ono.

Collectors Package

This wonderful and extravagant Collectors Package will be sold for just 5,990! can you not buy it.

But...there is one thing I'm concerned about. It seems that Capcom is planning something else for this deluxe edition as well. I've heard some things... The main details aren't clear yet, but as soon as I know something I'll be sure to tell you through the blog!

And finally! At the National Tournament April 4th, a playable edition of SSFIV will be available in Japan for the first time! Of course, all characters will be useable.

So we've got the National Tournament for the arcade, playable SSFIV, and various other events planned as well. It will be held at the BelleSalle in Akihabara! Be sure to clear your calendar for April 4th and come check it out!

And to close things off... to go with the new animation trailer that was released today, we also have a new game trailer up! This preview trailer was made for SSFIV pre-orders! Its a cool trailer that shows off just how awesome SSFIV is, so be sure to give it a look!

...And that's all for the new info on SSFIV today! I can already hear some voices in the back saying "What about info about new characters?!" To that, I can only say please wait a little while longer.

Well then, see you all on Friday!

Japan Only Animation Trailer:

English Audio:

New Gameplay Trailer:

Community Review


Street Fighter IV Review (360)

By: jalexbrown Jan 24, 2010 | 9 Comments

My review of the 360 version of Street Fighter IV (posted in anticipation of Super Street Fighter IV)


Remember back in the old days when you could go to the arcades and watch the machines eat away at your seemingly endless supply of quarters?  Those were good times, and Capcom has now found a way to bring that same feeling to the home with Street Fighter IV.  Let's get one thing about this game out of the way up front, shall we?  Street Fighter IV's gameplay doesn't do much new, but it doesn't need to do much new.  If you go into this game expecting some new or drastically different formula, you'll be disappointed; if you go into this game expecting that same rush you got playing Street Fighter II in the arcades, this is your game.

The roster of characters in Street Fighter IV is large enough to satisfy your desires, and includes some new characters that all seem to fit in well with the existing roster of characters.  Of course you get your Street Fighter staple characters like Ryu, Ken, Guile, Chun-Li, Vega, and the likes, but you also get four new characters as well: El Fuerte, a Mexican wrestler who is fast and agile; Abel, whose power-to-speed ratio seems to be the most balanced of the new fighters; Rufus, a heavyweight fighter who still manages to be surprising agile in spite of his size; and Crimson Viper, a female who is quick on her feet with a movelist that focuses on the use of high-tech weaponry.  There is also a new boss who is unlockable, Seth, who has a movelist that is a mixture of other fighters in the game.  Also new to the series as a playable character is Gouken, the mentor of Ryu and Ken.  The character list in the game is balanced enough that you can be pretty much any character in the game and stand a fighting chance against any other character in the game, but for some reason I didn't feel very compelled to play much with the new characters.  They fit well in the game, but they're just a bit less interesting than the more established characters.

Visuals in Street Fighter IV are great.  The game looks sort of like a 3D cartoon.  Characters have heavy black outlines, and the colors throughout the game have a water-color style to them that is appealing to the eye.  The special moves are flash enough to be entertaining to watch as well.  During the story mode, each character has an intro and outro movie that is anime-style, and these movies are all well-done as well.

Street Fighter IV's control scheme is intuitive rather you choose to use the analog stick or the D-Pad, although I did find that certain characters - Zangief, for instance - had moves that were easier to execute with the analog stick as opposed to the D-Pad.  If you're familiar with the older Street Fighter games it won't take you long to pick up on your favorite moves of yesteryear, either; most of the older moves are executed the same way you remember, so the pick-up-and-play aspect of Street Fighter IV is heightened over some other fighting games, which seem to feel inclined to change the way you do moves between entries.

Most of the game's appeal is being able to play with other people.  While I personally didn't get to take the online for a spin, I did play quite a few offline versus matches against various friends, and the game is great fun when you're playing with another person.  Fortunately for Street Fighter IV, however, the AI is skilled enough on the higher difficulties that you can play against the computer and still feel like you're playing against another person.  On the higher difficulties the AI does sometimes have a tendency to spam certain moves, but then again that's also a problem you'll experience pretty often against a human opponent.  Characters with moves that are easy to spam - such as Blanka - are more difficult to fight against, but eventually you'll learn when the computer is going to spam a certain attack and act accordingly.

Overall Street Fighter IV is a great game in the Street Fighter franchise and a great game in general.  The original $60 price tag was a bit steep, but now that the game has come down in price, it's definitely worth picking up.  The fights are fun and always unpredictable, the characters are varied but balanced, and the general flow of the game is really everything we've come to expect from Capcom.  I consider Street Fighter IV a must-own.

NOTE: Since Super Street Fighter IV has been announced, you may want to weigh out your options as far as rather to get Street Fighter IV or wait for Super Street Fighter IV.  If I had to advise, I'd say you're better off to wait for Super Street Fighter IV.  Of course if you can afford to do both, go ahead and go buy Street Fighter IV right now and beat it to death before Super Street Fighter IV comes out.  I've heard that there will be some sort of bonus for people who own both versions, so perhaps that could be your incentive to spend a few extra bucks and own both versions.  Whichever way you go, though, you definitely won't be going wrong.

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