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What’s new with Ultra Street Fighter 4?
Once again Capcom has decided they want our money, and once more we throw said money at our screens as we scream for more like the masochistic fools we are as we come back for more and more. This time, it’s Ultra Street Fighter 4, the latest Capcom update, that has us opening up their wallets. So what’s different then about Ultra Street Fighter IV that sets it apart from the previous 2012 Arcade Edition? Some new characters, a couple of new stages, balance changes and some new mechanics surprisingly. Quite a lot actually for the upgrade price.
I’m not bitter about the $15 price tag this time. Actually, maybe its because I’m getting used to getting jerked around by Capcom, but five characters alone is enough for a lot of people (especially fans of fighting games who’ll pay more than $15 for less). I’m actually not that bitter about throwing my money at Capcom this time, since they are breathing some new life into the Street Fighter scene, which is good since AE 2012 had gone a bit stale. New characters are the selling point once again in Ultra, similar to how Evil Ryu. Oni, and the Twins (Yun and Yang) brought people back to the previous incarnation.
Several mechanics changes have been added to the game. The first mechanic gives players the option to use both of their ultra moves when they pick their character. This is awesome. For those who are unaware, ultras in street fighter are a kind of hyper move (not to be confused with super moves, which have a separate meter) that uses its own special meter bar. As you are beat on, your bar fills up, giving your character a chance to turn the tables on your opponent for some real damage. Now I can Final Atomic Buster people as Zangief or I can careen through the air and Siberian Blizzard them at get them in a spinning headlock because they dared to jump at me. The downside to being able to choosing both Ultras is that it reduces the damage you deal by a percentage. Some characters will scoff at this and still choose both specials, but with other characters it feels like they would rather keep the damage since the other ultra they would get just doesn’t offer enough to make it worth the damage nerf.
Red Focus Attacks have been added to the game now too. Focus attacks were a feature added in Street Fighter 4, where players could perform attacks that would allow them to be able to absorb one attack from an opponent and if the focus attack was charged long enough and connects on the opponent then it would cause them to slowly fall to the ground, setting themselves up for a combo from the opponent. This became a major facet of higher-end Street Fighter, and now we have this new red focus attack which allows players to absorb multiple attacks instead, but what sets it apart is that this mechanic appears to be more of a combo tool as opposed to regular focus attacks. Unlike normal focus attacks, red focus attacks when used in a combo cause the same crumple status that focus causes when it charges up. So what stops it from being horribly unbalanced and your opponent just continuously strings combos together with these? Damage scaling evens it out thankfully, and red focus attacks seem to be following the same pattern as using both ultra attacks; some characters will benefit from the added utility, and others will be happy keeping things the way they are.
The last mechanic is the one which I was most excited about. Now that you can delay standing up on your character whenever you are knocked down. Big deal right? “Oh boy I can delay myself getting up off the ground by a second! Such a huge difference!” It actually is thankfully. This is going to change how the game plays at the higher levels of play in Street Fighter, but newer people won’t really ever notice it, which is a good thing in the scheme of things. Before, a lot of characters were defined by the pressure they could put on an opponent while the opponent was getting up. They would often do this with attacks with hitboxes that could ambiguously crossup their opponent (meaning the opponent doesn’t know which way the attack will block so they are unsure which way to block which makes it a 50/50 at best for the defender and sometimes worse) and this will make the doom vortex that players sometimes find themselves in a bit more manageable. Since a lot of this pressure requires very specific timing to execute, it becomes a bit riskier for players and the game won’t continue to be about the oppressive pressure that does so well at turning people off from trying to get good at Street Fighter (as if the one frame combos didn’t drive enough folk already).
Five new characters have graced us with their presence and hopefully will add more variety for the Street Fighter community. Elena, Rolento, and Hugo return to the roster as well as Poison and Decapre being new characters too. You have Elena, who specializes in kicking (and only kicking) with her Capoeira, Hugo, the Andre the Giant expy, who crushes opponents with his massive bulk and grabs, and Rolento, who has no problem beating people within an inch of their life with his beating sticks and any other weapon he happens to be carrying around. Then there’s Poison, who just enjoys whipping people (although her fireball was nerfed from SFxT), and finally we have Decapre, a character from the Street Fighter comics who visually shares similarities to Cammy, but plays a lot closer to M. Bison. I won’t lie, I only have put time into Elena out of the new characters and so far from what I’ve played she was fun so hopefully the rest of the characters will make the cut as well.
The content patch is something Street Fighter has needed for a while now: a breath of fresh air. I realize in the real world new content can’t continuously be pumped out at a reasonable pace, but Street Fighter had gotten more stale than a lot of other fighting games (despite what some fans will say), so this content patch was much needed. It breathes some fresh air back into the series which is good, but it doesn’t try and break the mold trying to be different. It’s still Street Fighter IV with a fresh coat of paint, but man is that fresh coat of paint looking good right now. If you’ve got the Street Fighter itch that needs scratching or just want to give Capcom more money, the full non upgrade version is available in stores on August 5 and releases on August 8 for PC.