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Published: Thursday, 5/13/2010

Game review: Street Fighter IV is 'roads' of fun

BY CHRIS CAMPBELL
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

The pizza joint a few blocks from my high school is long gone, but my memories of spending hours there after school playing Street Fighter II linger, and it's these fond memories of E. Honda and Dhalsim that will always draw me to any new Street Fighter release.

Super Street Fighter IV goes a long way down the road from the SF2 action we enjoyed in the early 1990s. Back then, we were thrilled to have eight characters to choose from and hone our skills with. Now the game features more than 30 playable characters, a nice mix of new and old characters. This diversity may be welcome to some, but with this many fighters it doesn't allow time to focus on a few and master their techniques.

Because knowing every strength and weakness of a fighter is key to winning - especially at the pace that SSF4 rocks - not being able to master all the characters matters. With Ultra Combos at your disposal, fights are fast and furious, so you should spend time in the training dojo perfecting the moves of a given character if you hope to succeed.

The best aspect of this game is its online fighting. Loads of online warriors are ready to give you their best, and it's here where the action truly shines. Not that the game's artificial intelligence is easy to beat (far from it), but there is nothing like the wild uncertainty a human opponent brings to the party.

Visually, the anime-styled backstories of the fighters are nice, but I'd like to see them more fully animated and with greater depth. The new release offers several interesting new fighting arenas while the updated graphics make the fighters look appropriately intimidating and punishing.

The Street Fighter gamer I am today would certainly whip the dainty kid I was in high school who pumped thousands of quarters into that pizza joint's video machine. And it's my history with the series that makes Super Street Fighter IV so enjoyable now.

Summer blockbusters typically sizzle in movie theaters but fizzle when they hit the small screen as video games. After a futile first effort, the Iron Man franchise sputters once again, leaving you wondering what developers were - or were not - thinking when they created this game.

You can't help but hang your head wondering what Iron Man Tony Stark himself would think about this release. Stark is the most tech-savvy superhero ever, yet this video game lacks technology on so many levels that it's just sad.

Most of the action takes place up close and personal. Sure, you can use repulse rays and some missiles and such, but you are so often overwhelmed by enemies that you end up fighting with your fists. It's just not very Iron Man-like, and it's certainly not much fun. Even if you choose to play as War Machine, things don't get much better. You can spend time upgrading your armaments, but even they don't have a noticeable impact.

As for the visuals, the facial reconstructions of the film's actors are so bad that even Madame Tussauds would reject them.

I'd like to recommend Iron Man 2 as a weekend rental, but, really, you'd be better off just buying a ticket to see the movie a second (or third, or fourth) time.



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