Street Fighter IV

STORYJust as the excitement of the previous, now legendary tournament finally fades, word of a new world fighting tournament spreads like wildfire among martial artists across the globe, trailing a series of bizarre rumors along behind: The mysterious disappearances of numerous famous fighters. A terrible threat in the form of a new, deadly secret weapon. The possible connection between S.I.N. the sponsor or the new tournament, and the supposedly destroyed Shadaloo.

New fighters also step up and make themselves known, almost as though responding to these troubling rumors. A young man who searches for his lost past. A female agent with the potential to be an executive member of S.I.N. A man who burns with the desire to defeat his greatest rival. A Luchador who seeks the ultimate recipe. Before these newcomers stand those from the previous tournament, each bringing their own renewed determination. Some fight for those dear to them. Some fight to finally take their revenge. And some fight simply so that the entire world will chant their name.

A complex clash of human relationships and the truth of a terrible plot that lurks behind the championship. This is the chaos that Ryu, who has been honing his skills with the simple goal of becoming the ultimate fighter, one beyond the constraints of mere morality, now finds himself thrown into... Amid pursuit and escape, friendship and betrayal, the curtain rises on a new stage of battle!

Street Fighter 4 character selection screen.

REVIEWA 2D fighting game... retaining the classic 6-button layout made famous by the SF2 series in the early 90's... featuring stunning next gen 3D graphics & intuitive gameplay... Street Fighter IV is no doubt the longest awaited sequel to Capcom's "indestructible" franchise. 2D fighting game fans have been waiting since 1999 for a proper sequel to the Street Fighter series.  Capcom attempted to bring their trademark franchise into "3D" once before with the Street Fighter EX series, a trio of games that received mixed reactions from fans (mostly negative in terms of competitive gameplay). The technology available at the time SFEX was created didn't allow the characters to fully live up to their 2D counterparts visually and the gameplay didn't quite live up to expectations either. There are pros & cons about a trademark 2D fighting game series going 3D, but in SF4's case, thankfully, the pros convincingly outweigh the cons.

To highlight a few of the pros: The new 3D graphics format offers incredibly dynamic camera angles during super moves, a variety of extra taunts & animations per character, and also leaves the door open for "alternate costumes" for all characters (which you'd very rarely see in a traditional 2D fighting game). Since the artists don't have to "hand draw" every frame of animation, it's a must faster and easier process when working on characters (especially in the long run when the time comes to make sequels).

In SF4, Capcom brought back the entire original cast of Street Fighter II... easily the 12 most recognizable fighters of the franchise and perhaps the most iconic fighting game characters of all time. It's great to see all the classics return in a new light and given a true next gen makeover. Four colorful new fighters have also joined the roster: Crimson Viper, El Fuerte, Abel & Rufus, not to mention an all new final boss, Seth. Additionally, a generous amount of characters were added to the home versions of the game, including: Gen, Rose & Sakura from the Street Fighter Alpha series, and fan favorites: Cammy, Fei Long & Dan Hibiki.

Like any true Street Fighter fan, I have a certain love for the "classic" SF cast... but as a huge fan of SF3: 3rd Strike, I also find myself dearly missing some of the "New Generation" cast while playing this game. SF4 actually takes place some time after Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo & before SF3... which is a crucial and interesting time period in the series, and as I expected, ties in Street Fighter 2's storyline with Street Fighter 3's. Thanks to the choice time period, the future installments of Street Fighter 4 will allow for the largest & most diverse line-up in the series history.

Charismatic facial expressions and epic camera angles.

The new 3D graphics have a very original flavor to them among this generation of video games. The eyes are treated to incredibly colorful backgrounds, awesome projectile effects, and unparalleled character detail in a 2D fighting game. Highly entertaining facial expressions activate at seemingly the perfect time, making classic battles more epic than ever thought possible. Seeing your opponent's eyes pop out and their mouth widen, as they cringe in terror before you blast them with a super move, is beyond satisfying!   There are ton of additional "support" facial animations which occur during gameplay, and sometimes can only be fully appreciated when the game slows down (during a KO or super move)... very cool and original stuff all around.

Clothing & hair movement in SF4 is also done brilliantly, especially for a 2D fighting game. Even the "background characters" have a handful of diverse animations, adding to the mood of each stage very nicely. There are even more crazy visual effects that make SF4 stand out, such as when a character gets electrocuted... you can actually see the unique internal bone structure of each 3D model, which looks freakin' amazing in motion. Other lighting effects that come from the characters (like Blanka's electric attack) even light up select areas and things in the backgrounds that reflect light. Ohh, and fireballs in SFIV are pure eye candy... easily the best looking video game fireballs of all time!

gameplay engine is a mixture of past successful Street Fighter recipes... SF4 has elements from SSF2: Turbo, the Street Fighter Alpha series & the SF3 series. However, let's get one thing straight, right off the bat... SF4 is not Super Turbo and it's not 3rd Strike. If you're expecting Super Turbo or Third Strike, you should simply go back and play those games (they're still good!). Open your mind to Street Fighter IV because there's a rewarding yet somewhat "simple" gameplay system intact, which takes the series back to its roots but, at the same time, presents some innovation in its own right. Air blocking and parrying is absent (probably a good thing in this game) but several notable gameplay elements from the SF3 series make the return, including dashes (double-tap forward or back), EX Specials (special move with two buttons instead of one), taunts (strong punch + strong kick), two-button throws (weak punch + weak kick), and special-canceling into super moves!


You must master the Focus Attack... to stand a chance.


While I was disappointed when I first heard that parrying was gone, after playing SF4, I'm actually glad parrying isn't in this game due to the general flow of the game and fast-paced animation (I'll elaborate on that later). The newly introduced "Focus Attack" is a great substitute for the parry and actually adds a new element to the classic 2D gameplay. The Focus Attack is punishable while being charged, and it takes two hits to knock the charging character out of the move. For example, if Chun-Li begins to charge the move against Ryu, he can hit her with a low punch and then a fireball. The low punch will be absorbed, but the fireball will make contact. A special or super move can be executed immediately after a successful focus attack, which really make the focus attack a crucial (and fun) part of SF4's gameplay.

The other new addition to the gameplay is the "Revenge" super meter, which is comparable to the meter found in SNK's Samurai Shodown series. When your character takes a certain amount of damage, they will be able to unleash a unique and devastating super move which can turn the tide of the match if connected. As cool as they are, the Revenge or "Ultra Moves" are slightly overpowered in my opinion, making comebacks a lot easier to pull off (and arguably less impressive when it happens). Nonetheless, these super moves look epic and are possibly some of the hardest-hitting super moves ever seen in a fighting game! In addition to the Revenge Meter, a classic Super Meter is also in place which is used for EX attacks and basic super moves. This means your character can actually fill up two separate super meters (which can be a very very dangerous thing when used effectively).

The all important animation is somewhat "different" than what SF veterans are used to. The SF3 and SFA series in particular are known for their sharp 2D sprites and crisp, clean animations. Those (now classic) 2D sprites had depth, weight, and their moves just had a certain "pop" to them that never seemed to change. Bringing the series into 3D really changes everything, particularly the flow of the animation. The way SF4 "moves" really takes some getting used to after playing its 2D predecessors for so many years, but the good news is: you can get used to it. Certain "familiar" character animations and moves do look very different in 3D (fast paced if you will), and in some cases, just don't look quite as pretty or well-executed (especially when it comes to that ouch factor)... dare I say some of the characters got a bit "sloppy" with their technique? For example, I remember Vega's jumping axe kick looking a hell of a lot cleaner (technique-wise) and much more fluid in his SFA rendition. Of course I'm being a nitpicky fan here, but this is coming from someone who has studied those classic sprites and animations practically for a living. So I thought it was worth mentioning.

animation in general seems "sped up" in normal gameplay, but the beauty of the animation can be fully appreciated when the game slows down during a super move... it's actually pretty amazing how many frames of animation are behind every single move in the game. Many classic priority attacks "look different" and some have even changed all together (nothing wrong with change right?). Jumping is also faster (and choppier) than one might be used to in the SF3 or SFA series, but again, you get used to it. At the end of the day, most movements and attacks really do have that spark, and when they connect, it hurts like never before!!! The pulse-pounding camera angles that the 3D graphics engine provides adds brilliant new depth to some of the classic super moves, and nearly every character is represented beautifully. In fact, some characters have definitely seen their finest days in SF4... (although, I wouldn't dare say "all").


Gouken's playable debut is nothing short of epic.


The home presentation of Street Fighter IV is well rounded and packs everything a fighting game player needs (and then some). You've got your Arcade Mode, VS Mode, Network Battle, Challenge Mode, Training Mode, Gallery, and plenty of Options. Arcade features some semi-decent animated prologues & endings for every character, in addition to highly entertaining cut-scene "Rival Battles" which use the in-game graphics. The pre-fight, motion captured cinematics before a Rival Fight are simply epic (and borderline emotional for old school fans)... props to Capcom for going the extra mile and remixing some of the classic BGMs specially for these fights and even including a wide variety of custom dialogue during the fight between rival characters... Woooow! The new character win quotes are not only witty & smart (and sometimes hilarious) but they're even character-specific at times, which is another appreciated detail borrowed from from 3rd Strike.

Challenge Mode offers a variety of ways to test your skills, featuring: Survival, Time Attack & Trial Modes. Going through Challenge Mode is also the path to unlocking alternate character colors & taunts, artwork & sketches, and even various "icons" and "titles" that you can add to your online player profile (there's a ton to unlock)! The PS3 version even features a handful of exclusive items for Playstation Home. The trophies/achievements are also fun and very challenging. The options in SF4 are also pretty epic. For one, you have the ability to use either Japanese or English character voices, and can even choose which characters specifically you want to speak in either language. Indeed this is a "fighting game first" and simply an awesome option to have! I personally find Dan's voice to be horrid in English, but I prefer characters like Guile to speak English, so it's really nice to be able to set your preferences. Along with the voice acting, the music in SF4 is very well done (besides the horribly catchy main theme song which makes me want to strangle the singer, especially during the part when he sings OFF KEY). Of course, if for some reason you grow tired of the game's official soundtrack, you can thankfully set your own personal music to play in the background thanks to our next gen game systems... yes!

I can vouch for the PS3 version and say the online mode is very solid. Even on "2/3 out-of 5 bars" I've experienced very minimal lag. The only complaints I have about online is that, firstly... your online "rank" isn't very clear when you go up against random opponents. Adding titles and icons to your player profile is cool & all, but it's hard to tell what skill level your opponent is (this was fixed in the sequel). I also wish you could create a room that can hold more than 2 players (this was also fixed in the sequel). All in all, the online mode is pretty bare bones but gets the job done.


Page Updated: October 15th, 2023
Developer(s): Dimps, Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Designer(s): Yoshinori Ono             Producer
Daigo Ikeno                  Character design / Artwork
Yasuyuki Oda               Battle Designer
Artwork by: Daigo Ikeno, Polygon Pictures
Platform(s): Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, iPhone
Release Date(s): July 18th, 2008               Arcade
Feb. 17th, 2009
              PS3 / 360
July 7th, 2009
March 2010
Characters Ryu, Ken Masters, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Zangief, E. Honda, Blanka, Guile, Sagat, M. Bison, Balrog, Vega, Crimson Viper, El Fuerte, Abel, Rufus, Seth, Akuma, Gouken, Cammy (console), Rose (console), Gen (console), Fei Long (console), Dan Hibiki (console), Sakura Kasugano (console)

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Related Games: Super Street Fighter 4, Super SF4: 3D Edition, Super SF4: Arcade Edition, Ultra SF4, Street Fighter 6, Street Fighter V, SFV: Arcade Edition, SFV: CE, Street Fighter, Street Fighter 2, SF2 Champion Edition, SF2 Turbo, Super SF2, Super SF2 Turbo, Super SF2: Revival, Super SF2 Turbo HD Remix, Ultra SF2, SFIII: New Generation, SFIII: 2nd Impact, SFIII: 3rd Strike, SFIII: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, SFA3 Upper, SFA3 Max, SFA: Anthology, Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX2, Street Fighter EX3, Street Fighter: The Movie, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, Pocket Fighter, Tekken 5: DR, Soul Calibur 4, Street Fighter X Tekken

Gameplay Engine  8.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.0 / 10
Animation  9.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  8.0 / 10
Innovation  9.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.5 / 10
Customization  9.5 / 10
Options / Extras  9.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  8.0 / 10

8.9 / 10

 Review based on PS3 version    


Final Words: One can't deny that Street Fighter IV ushered in a "new era" of fighting games. Even though many people would tell you the fighting genre wasn't anywhere close to "dead" before SF4, this one game definitely turned many heads from the "mainstream gaming universe" back in the direction of fighting games. Even though it may not be the best Street Fighter game ever made, SF4 came through as the "next gen" Street Fighter game that everyone was waiting for, and it was a huge success. 

Besides being 3D, Street Fighter IV takes the series in a whole new artistic direction... the new art style doesn't stray too far from previous installments, but is original enough to give SF4 its own flavor instead of being something we've seen before. The new 3D character models can be intimidating to fighting game purists, but when given a chance, the iconic fighters shine like never before.

Comparatively to SF3: 3rd Strike, I still think the prequel is a deeper and better fighting game overall; but that certainly doesn't mean SF4 isn't a good game. Capcom demonstrated they can still put out a quality and successful 2D fighting game by "keeping it simple" and returning to their roots.

SF4 has the technical gameplay that hardcore players thrive on, but the same core principles from the classic games (such as SF2 or SFA) can be used to play this game in almost the same exact fashion sometimes. On that note, it definitely feels like a game I've played before, which for me, lowers the replayability score a little bit. Lately, I seem to prefer fighting games with more "mix-up" options, and SF4 comes up kinda short in that category. The good news is, pro and casual players alike can find something to enjoy about the game. SF4 has "next-gen 2D fighting game" written all over it and really makes a statement to all the "non fighting game players" out there that indeed: People still love 2D fighting games!

Major complaints? Firstly, the character openings & endings in the story mode are pretty weak and make little sense. Nearly all of them seem to "stop short" before actually explaining anything about the story. Then there's that cheesy intro/menu song (especially in English)... it's possibly worse than Marvel VS Capcom 2's selection screen song and that's saying A LOT. Once again, there are quite a few quirky animations that bug me, and the characters don't really move as "naturally" as those from other recent fighting games. The new "3D cartoony" style works in some instances, but isn't perfect from all angles.

Personally, I still prefer other 2D and 3D fighting games over SF4... but I respect the game for what it is. At the end of the day, SF4 is semi-simple old school fun with a next gen paint job, and yes, it's definitely worthy to be called Street Fighter IV... it's a must buy. Also check out TFG's elaborate reviews of the sequels: SSF4, SSF4: 3D Edition, and SSF4: Arcade Edition.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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