Ultra Street Fighter IV Review
New versions of older games are nothing…uh…new. That being said, it’s hard to say anything against most updated versions, simply because they’re better iterations of an existing game. In most cases, the new version becomes the definitive edition and one all fans should want in their collections. But occasionally, we get a dud. And as robust and enjoyable as Super Street Fighter IV is on PlayStation 4, I think this is an example of one of those duds. Perhaps the problem is that Capcom handed this project to Other Ocean Interactive, because I doubt the internal Capcom teams would’ve delivered a buggy, glitchy product. It wasn’t buggy on PS3; why would it be now?
There are good things, of course. The graphics have been updated to boast a beautiful 1080p and 60 frames per second presentation, which makes USFIV look absolutely fantastic on the new console. The excellent character design comes to the forefront and the environments are more attractive and immersive than ever. Those who appreciate the little things – like improved particle effects and the like – will undoubtedly applaud the brighter, sharper, more impact-ful display. Ripping off a special Focus Attack really allows the updated graphics to shine, and I’ve always liked the pastel-like presentation. The problem is that when the glitches start cropping up, everything becomes compromised.
That great character modeling is tough to appreciate when the characters actually disappear. They’ll sometimes just glitch out for no reason and various special attacks can cause a host of disappointing visual miscues. The lack of technical stability doesn’t just affect the graphics, either; for example, something bad happened to the sound effects when USFIV made the generational transition. When was the last time you heard glitches in fighting game effects? Well, you’ll hear them in spades in this game; many times, the effects will simply repeat over and over when there’s no accompanying visual. Repeating background effects can be extremely annoying, even if it’s not a game-breaking issue. The soundtrack still seems to perform well, though, even if the balancing isn’t quite right.
When it comes to upgraded re-releases, the first question out of everyone’s mouth is always the same: “So, what’s new and better?” The gameplay will likely remain exactly the same and everyone assumes we’ll get better graphics, but what about other fresh content? Well, unfortunately, there aren’t a huge number of fresh features in Ultra Street Fighter IV for PS4. Perhaps the most significant one from a gameplay perspective is the addition of the Red Focus Attack, which operates much like the original Focus Attack, only it uses three bars of your Super Meter. Plus, its Level One charge can still stun opponents, which isn’t the case with the regular Focus Attack. Then there’s the inclusion of all the DLC outfits, so you can dress up your fighters in different costumes. Don’t forget that this launched as premium content, so at least you won’t have to pay anything extra to put your favorite character into a cheery “Vacation” outfit.
Perhaps the only other major new feature is Omega Mode. This is the one that will most likely entice hardcore fighting aficionados to snag the latest version, because it significantly changes the combat. If you’re a Ken fan, you’ll have to adapt to chucking his Hadoken from his feet. Omega Mode is really a chance for the developers to implement some great abilities we’ve seen in previous Street Fighter installments. Okay, so it doesn’t make much sense for Dee Jay to stand there and dance while he’s in the midst of mortal combat, but many characters have very useful moves that remind us of the good ol’ days. The bottom line is that Omega Mode, while not turning the experience on its head, does add to the flavor and diversity.
Of course, the DLC outfits and Omega Mode was previously released for the last-gen versions of the game. So, if you’ve already purchased it all, I’m not sure why you’d pick up the latest iteration. Maybe you really want the upgraded visuals, or maybe you think the Red Focus Attack is a solid enough addition and worthy of your attention. The problem comes when you realize that one of the game’s biggest updates, the visuals, is hampered by the aforementioned technical issues. This makes the product that much more unappealing and in fact, not worthy of the price tag. It also doesn’t help that the game is getting some bad press lately, courtesy of the PS4 version getting dropped from EVO 2015. Obviously, the game has serious problems that need to be fixed, which means one thing: wait.
The other thing that needs to be fixed is the online component. There’s a lot of input lag, which is immensely frustrating in any fighting game. And it doesn’t seem to matter which sort of controller you use; everyone is complaining of input lag, not just those who use the standard DualShock 4 (like me). Now, some will claim that the game suffered from a little input lag before it ever came to new consoles, but I don’t recall it being this prominent. The other problem is that all online modes appear to be compromised in some way, and this only amplifies the existing offline issues. On the plus side, that core gameplay – which has always been excellent – remains solid and extremely rewarding. This is a fantastic fighting mechanic, no doubt about it.
I mean, let’s not forget that this game is really very good. Street Fighter IV was one of the best battlers of the previous generation and the upgrade (currently available for only $14.99) for the PS3/360 versions was welcomed by many. This is one of those fighters that requires your utmost attention and dedication, and rewards those with the requisite patience and skill. The iconic characters remain as powerful and impressive as ever and when the graphical hitches don’t get in the way, the graphical impact is explosive. Playing with others is also loads of fun (when it works), as fighting one-on-one sans AI is always the ultimate challenge. There are plenty of diverse characters and plenty of content, so don’t think the game doesn’t have it where it counts.
But for the time being, there are simply too many problems with Ultra Street Fighter IV on PlayStation 4. The input lag is definitely an issue, the technical hang-ups mar an otherwise astounding-looking game, and there aren’t enough new features or additions for hardcore fans to warrant a purchase. It’s nice to have Omega Mode and all the DLC costumes tossed in for free and the Red Focus Attack does add some flash and strategy. But that’s really about it. Toss in the online issues and you’ve got a game that, once patched, will probably be pretty darn good. But I think I made it plain in my review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Critics can’t be giving such games passes, or these problems will persist. That’s all that needs to be said on the subject.
The Good: Beautiful 1080p and 60fps presentation. Wildly entertaining and diverse set of characters. One of the better combat mechanics out there. Omega Mode adds freshness and variety. Will be “definitive” when everything is fixed.
The Bad: Serious technical issues keep screwing with the visuals and audio. Annoying input lag. Online connectivity issues. Not enough features and improvements for a next-gen re-release.
The Ugly: “Stop making partially broken games. Just stop.”
6/1/2015 Ben Dutka