GC 2008: Street Fighter IV Console Hands-On
This hotly anticipated fighter is playable on home consoles for the first time at Leipzig, and we managed to jump on a controller to see if it's fit to fight.
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After making us salivate over the arcade version for some time and finally confirming its perennial fighter would be coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Capcom took the wraps off the console version of Street Fighter IV. We had some hands-on time with the game at the Games Convention in Leipzig earlier today.
Anyone who's followed the franchise's rebirth will know that SFIV includes many of the characters and stages from Street Fighter II, while adding a few brand-new characters into the mix including femme fatale Crimson Viper, Mexican luchador El Fuerte, French fighter Abel, and the generously proportioned Rufus. While Dan, Fei-Long, and Cammy are expected to make an appearance on home consoles, they were missing from the character menu, so we'll have to wait and see if this will be the case in the final version.
We managed to snag a Xbox 360 controller, and we found the controls to be as responsive and natural as you'd expect without an arcade stick. We didn't get to try it with Microsoft's just-announced, revised Xbox 360 controller (complete with a more responsive directional pad), but as it's apparently a limited run, that's to be expected. Fans will be pleased to know that all of the combo moves from the arcade version will be the same on consoles. Ryu and Ken will still use a quarter circle and punch to execute fireballs, and Blanka will still execute an electric fury with rapid button mashing. Capcom took the time to emphasise the importance of the focus attacks in SFIV, describing it as a "game within a game," allowing you to pull off quick attacks on the fly. Each character executes it in the same way--by holding down the medium punch and kick buttons--but their attacks and reach will be different, with El Fuerte reportedly having the longest-reaching focus attack of all.
There are three tiers to focus attacks: light (performed by tapping the buttons), a medium half-charge (holding the buttons briefly), and a full charge (holding the buttons down until an attack is performed). You won't be vulnerable to attacks when performing a full charge, but you will be open to attack before then, so you'll need to watch out if fighting a quick opponent. You can also quit out of one in the flash of an eye, such as by blocking or dashing.
Fans of the arcade version will be relieved to know that the game looks just as smooth on home consoles and, in our opinion, is nothing short of gorgeous. While our preview was shown using a very early build, the characters, animations, and background levels all look spot-on and identical to the arcade version, as far as we could tell. Characters look fluid and realistic as they dance around and the amount of detail and animation that's gone into some of the backgrounds is almost enough to distract you from the foreground action.
While all 16 arcade characters were spotted in the selection screen, we were only able to try out a few in our time with the game, namely Ryu, Ken, Blanka, and newcomer Rufus. All of their costumes, moves, and animations appear to have made it across from the arcades, although we could've almost sworn Rufus' bulbous belly looked bigger than ever before.
Street Fighter IV on the Xbox 360 and PS3 looks like it's in safe hands, which will come to the relief of fans who don't live near--or perhaps even on the same continent as--an arcade cabinet of the game. We look forward to seeing the game in action again soon.
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