|System: PS3, PC, Xbox 360|
|Release: June 28, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is here, and long-time Street Fighter fans are rejoicing. New balance changes, four new characters, and a bunch of new online options promise to make AE the best version of Street Fighter we have available to us. Recently, I picked up my copy, and after playing both Vanilla Street Fighter IV and Chocolate Street Fighter IV (I.E. Super Street Fighter IV), and considering them both among the best fighting game experiences I have ever had, I fully expected to feel the same about AE.
Well, Capcom has always had a way of defying expectations.
I quickly realized that AE really only appeals to two groups of people: the newbie who missed out on previous installments of SFIV and the veteran who wants to squeeze some more fun time out of their favorite fighting game franchise. The game means different things to both groups, and though it has its merits in regards to both, it also has some serious flaws.
Let's start with the most obvious improvement. AE has four new characters: Yang, Yun, Evil Ryu, and Oni. To the newbie, these characters don't mean much, and it's even a little confusing to tell the difference between Yang and Yun or Ryu and Evil Ryu. For the veteran, these characters are pretty fun to play around with. Yang and Yun are serious powerhouses, and are some of the fastest and strongest characters in the game. Evil Ryu is a far more aggressive Ryu with some of Akuma's moves, and he even has a few unique moves thrown in for good measure. Oni, in my opinion, is the most interesting new character, with tons of command normals, air dashes, overheads, and lots more. Unfortunately, the characters come with the downside of throwing off the whole balance of the game. Yang and Yun are so good that they are already kings of the tier list, with Fei Long tagging along for the ride. Evil Ryu ain't that bad either. The only "average" new character is Oni, which is a shame considering how interesting he is.
Aside from the new characters, there were considerable balance changes made to existing characters as well. Once again, these are totally meaningless to the new player. In fact, for a new player the game is extra frustrating because all these new changes serve to do is invalidate the many challenges available in the trials menu. Considering that these are the only tools the game has available for teaching in the first place, Capcom has basically sent newbies up the creek without a paddle.
In fact, it's nearly impossible to learn this game if you are a newbie just coming in, because the online community has degraded quite a bit. It takes forever to find a match, and when you do, you basically play the same five taunters, rage quitters, and unbeatable pros over and over and over again. No one is willing to give a newbie a hand or show them the ropes. In fact, they are far more likely to insult your masculinity and call your mother a whore if you send any sort of message asking for advice.
For the veterans, the balance changes mean something, but unfortunately that something isn't "balance." As I already mentioned, the balance of the game is thrown all out of whack with the new characters. Previous top tier characters sank, but low tier characters weren't really buffed all that much. Hakan is still as low as he ever was, for example. In fact, most of the online pro community has fallen back on "tier whoring." While this is a perfectly valid thing to do—and not in any way cheap or unfair—it really gets boring playing against your twelfth damn Fei Long in a row.
AE supposedly comes with a host of new online improvements, including tweaks to the netcode that make online matches play smoother. I give Capcom credit for this, as my online matches have had extremely low latency ever since AE came out. I barely notice the lag anymore, and that's saying something. This is something that both newbies and veterans alike can enjoy.
Unfortunately, time has not been kind to our old friend Super Street Fighter. The online world is now a desolate wasteland. As I said before, it takes forever to find a match and most of your opponents are dredged up from the shallow end of the gene pool. Everyone else has either moved on to other fighting games or is playing Street Fighter offline in tournaments or special events. The many little improvements to online play, like the ability to name your Endless Battle lobby, the ability to view replays of ranked battles from the ranked menu, the addition of an Elite Channel that broadcasts the replays of the best of the best, new ways to follow other players replays and broadcast your own, and of course tons of new titles, icons, and trophies, all go largely unnoticed because of how little motivation there is to jump into online battles again. Capcom has also allowed people with AE to play people with regular Super Street Fighter, which is good forethought I suppose, but in the end it really is just giving gamers an excuse to not get used to the new updates.