|System: PS3*, Xbox 360|
|Release: June 3, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Do you know how many versions of Street Fighter IV we have gone through? There was the original, the home update, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, and Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition Version 2012. Then there were all the mini-updates including the release of the first PC edition, the “Championship Mode” expansion, the 3DS versions, the mobile versions and more. So, including Ultra Street Fighter IV and depending on how you count these versions, we have seen as few as five up to around 20 versions of this iconic fighting game. Have we had enough?
Make no mistake, Ultra Street Fighter IV is the same Street Fighter IV experience you know and love. All the characters from Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition Version 2012 are still there, and all of the mechanics are still there too. You’ll be focus attack dash canceling into ultra-combos, pulling off EX moves, crossing people up, and mashing out dragon punches just like you always were. In fact, you could be forgiven for not quite noticing much difference between previous versions and Ultra, but there are a few mechanics inserted to shake things up.
First of all is the Red Focus attack. The normal focus attack, done by pressing both medium buttons, was able to soak one hit before making you go into hit-stun. You could also charge it up to perform a hit that makes the enemy go into crumple, or even an unblockable hit! Unfortunately, it’s rather easy to hit someone in a focus charge animation more than once and as a result, focus attacks aren’t used much in pro level play aside from their useful ability to be canceled into dashes.
The Red Focus changes all that. By spending meter, you can now perform a focus attack that soaks an infinite amount of hits. Yes, every character can do this. This restores Focus Attacks to their original intended functionality, a one move game of chicken. This also means that you’ll see a lot more “EVO moments” as people red focus and soak an entire ultra or super only to hit back with their own combo and win the game.
A second new mechanic is the delayed wakeup. In prior versions of Street Fighter IV, everyone woke up at the same time. This allowed you to constantly put the opponent into defensive guessing game situations whenever they were knocked down. It allowed offensive pressure to dominate the match and even allowed some characters access to unblockables.
Delayed wakeup changes that as well. You can alter how long your character takes to get up. By doing this, many setups that lead immediately into wakeup pressure no longer work. The offensive player has to react just as much as the defensive player does. This makes powerful “vortexes” less a part of the game, allowing players on the defense a chance to breathe.
The final new mechanic is the ability to select double ultras. When you do this, you have access to both of your ultra combos at once. However, doing so makes the efficacy of each Ultra Combo drop significantly, some doing less than half the damage they would otherwise. You are sacrificing damage for flexibility essentially.
Unfortunately, the coolest new mechanic is mostly going to be overlooked: the Edition Select. This, essentially, lets you revert any character in the roster to whatever edition you like. They lose all the perks of Ultra, like delayed wakeup and double ultras and red focuses, but they gain all the brokenness they had in their earlier incarnation. Playing original Sagat or AE Yun is a blast and it feels a lot like how Super Street Fighter II Turbo let you choose from older versions of the cast. However, its major flaw is that it is not allowed in online matches. This means it likely won’t be allowed in tournament play, which means pro gamers are simply going to ignore it, which is bad because casual players won’t understand the intricacies of the game enough to really spot the differences between different versions of each character.
Ultra Street Fighter IV also comes with new characters, but they all kind of feel like Capcom was phoning it in. Elena, Hugo, Poison and Rolento are all identical to their Street Fighter X Tekken incarnations. Unfortunately, they lose something when ported to the USF4 engine. The inability to chain combo means Hugo can’t utilize his rapid low pressure anymore, which sucks because he was low tier already and continues to be here. In fact, all of these characters feel a little bit like they were meant for another game, and you’ll likely ditch them in favor of the huge roster of classic characters instead.