First thing’s first: I was really hoping combos wouldn’t lean so heavily on links. Links are when you chain two moves together, giving the opponent no chance to block. The timing on links opposed to normal moves (usually jab -> something) is the stuff of nightmares. The window is usually less than a dozen frames, a frame being 1/60th of a second. Hit it too late, and your opponent can block it. Too early and nothing happens; that’s when you get a flaming bone sandwich shoved into your skull. I like to stand my Street Fighter 4 box next to my TV and, whenever this happens, give it a big fuckin’ thumbs up. YOU’RE THE MAN CAPCOM, YOU ARE THE MAN.
(That was a very clever reference to the Samuel L. Jackson/Eugene Levy comedy. I am basking in your silent applause)
As for the online…well, the netcode is fantastic. That’s really the most important part, and they nailed it. Of course, they took that excellent netcode and encased it in a capsule of shit, but you can’t win ’em all. No multi-person lobby? Matchmaking searches which take forever? No recordable video? I know these problems will supposedly be addressed by a patch in March, but goddamn, Dead or Alive 4 had this features at launch. Over three years ago.
As far as character balance goes…I can’t really say. Sure people have been playing the arcade for months (and the newly updated arcade version for a little while too), but the console-specific characters? Total mystery. Well, I suppose they’re not a total mystery, since so many people have come forward to inform us that yes, these console characters are actually quite lame. You know what, I shouldn’t make terrible generalizations like that. Some are decent, some are worse. You know, I often hear that Capcom games are well-balanced. That’s a rant for another time; all I’ll say is I wish I was attracted to tall muscular cycloptic Thais so I could have spent the last fifteen years laughing instead of crying and having boiling coffee poured into my eyes.
And then there’s everything else. SF4 has a ton of bonus shit. Time Trial, Survival and a move/combo execution mode, all yielding more character colors, titles, icons, and gallery artwork. The graphics are great; everyone knows this. The animation is as slick as the grease build up on my face which glistens with the reflected glow of my television in the darkness as I destroy scrubs online. “Fall on your knees, salvation has fled; your doom is approaching. Its name is Dan.” That’s a line from a song I’m writing, about Street Fighter 4, but you can use it if you give me credit. I sing it over Live all the time anyway.
So far yes I like SF4, I’m just not sure if I’ll be able to stick with it and gain any real proficiency. Linking sucks and the more elaborate combos seem like more work than I’m willing to put into a game I don’t flat-out love. I truly believe Capcom’s goal was to make the game really easy to pick up for any moron, but make serious play insanely difficult. For no real reason. I don’t like when something is overcomplicated just for the sake of it. In fact, you could say it is one of my least favorite occurrences. At least I got the anime movie that came with the game. Man I love anime, I’m gonna watch some right now.