I've recently been raving a lot about Street Fighter IV and it's problems. Most people I talk to don't understand what annoys me about it, so I've decided to dedicate my first ever blog entry to the issues I have with the game.
Let me first start by saying this rant is based on the XBox 360 version of the game, you know, the one where you can't use the default Xbox controller to play with because it registers so terribly? Spending $30+ for a new controller on top of buying this game should not be mandatory. Somehow I've come CLOSE to my normal playing ability, but I'm still not fully confident I'm playing at Street Fighter Alpha 3 on Playstation accuracy. The 360's D-Pad in no way works to play this game, and the analog stick is decent, as it ends up being somewhat close to playing with a fight stick.
Now, don't first-glance me. I'm not bitching because I suck at the game. I've been playing Street Fighter's incarnations since 1992- Street Fighter II: The World Warrior on SNES and Special Championship Edition on Genesis. No, I didn't start on arcade because where I live, there are virtually no good arcades. Since then I feel I've become a pretty accomplished player, starting out by playing as Ryu, Ken and other Shotoclones, branching out and trying charge characters and attempting to get good with the lesser-used like Dhalsim. I've settled on Cammy, as she's always been a favorite of mine(since Super Street Fighter II, that is) as far as moves and she's not bad to look at, either.
Before I verbally beat the crap out of Street Fighter IV, let me first take you back to it's release and my first impressions. February 2009- my best friend gets ahold of the game and calls me to come over and see it, which I do, and I'm very impressed with what I see and play. The game seems to be almost everything I could ask for in a Street Fighter game minus a few of the old bonuses the old games had. No bonus rounds, special modes(aside from Time Attack, Survival and obligatory Practice modes). I had my blinders on anyways, so I didn't notice this at first. I was however, very impressed with the Trial mode that taught you useful combos and essential moves and timing. I ws happy and wanted the game immediately.
About half a year later, the game was still $45 pre-owned at the local monopolizing 'GameStore.' I check eBay and within a few minutes I found the game for half the price and bid, the game was mine. It arrived and I began to play at my hearts content. Until I bit deeper into the game and hit a bone.
At first I had to unlock some characters, so to Arcade mode I went. The game's AI was pretty good at Medium level, it gave me a bit of a challenge, which surprised me. Finally, the last battle came, a new guy named Seth.
Let me stop here to talk about this guy. Named after Seth Killian, Capcom's Community Manager who is rumoured to be a pretty damn good SF player, the character is storied to be a new body created for M.Bison that absorbs information on fighting styles and incorporates others' special moves into his own. This allows for Seth to have a special move for every situation imaginable. Couple that with super AI that Capcom developed for the game and you've got a pretty tough opponent. A little TOO tough. Something about the AI seems to make it able to read which move you're going to use and pick you apart at every button press. Many of his moves hit waaay more than once to further increase the difficulty, or should I just say, the cheapness. Ridiculously multi-hitting moves abound in SFIV and that's another crack I'll uncover here.
I also noticed that he was a bit overpowered. Like many other characters in the game, some of his normal hits and special attacks drain a lot of life and for no apparent reason. The others I speak of are Sagat, Honda, Blanka, and Zangief. But wait, of course I know a couple of these guys are overpowered to balance how slow or easy to hit they are. This has always been the case with a few of them, including Zangief and Honda. There's no reason for Sagat and Blanka to take this seat as well. I've had about a 4th of my life bar drained by Sagat's regular heavy uppercut(not Tiger Uppercut). Blanka can usually just sit back and charge any of his special moves and be ready to drain your life at the blink of an eye. And like Sagat, he's also coupled with devastating regular attacks like his low heavy punch, and heavy kicks.
Sagat also has a problem with multi-hitting specials. His Ultra combo, Tiger Destruction(guess the name fits..), can tear you apart. Also on this list are Ryu's Ultra Hadouken, Ken's Ultra Shoryuken and of course, Blanka's Ultra. Akuma's Ultra Instant Hell Murder is an honorable mention, but it can be easily avoided so it's not on the list. Sagat, Ken, and Akuma also have dangerous multi-hitting normal attacks as well. These are all somewhat petty annoyances because they can be avoided, but I feel I've lost too many matches just because half of my life bar was drained by a stupid attack that is just way too overpowered and hits too many times. Anything over 17-hits without a normal combo added beforehand is just ridiculous unless we're playing Killer Instinct.
Needless to say, most people who you play against online choose these cheap powerhouses to bait an easy win. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg with online play issues. Why do people online want to win other than supremacy over others? This is still unclear to me aside from the recently added Championship mode, where you can rank up by gradually building points. See, there's also a Ranked online mode which uses these things called BP, Battle Points. How they are awarded and their use is somewhat of a mystery. Seems like I'll win a match and win maybe 5 BP, then I'll lose the next one and 100 BP will go with it. Why? Nobody knows but Capcom.
The easiest way of connecting to play someone online is supposed to be the Quick Match option. I'm not sure why but this is always hit-and-miss. It gives you a list of three different players to choose from each time you enter or refresh, and beside the name it shows they connection speed in the form of a colored bar. The best being green, then yellow, orange, and finally red. Well, you'd think green would be the best to connect to, so you try them when you see them. Sometimes they just won't work! From connection, it's then broken down into language preference. My default language is English, so I'm supposed to be able to connect to English speakers more readily than other languages. Again, somehow this doesn't work right. I'll be allowed to play Hiro in Japan with a red bar, but not Johnny in California who has a yellow bar. Why, Capcom, why?! I usually end up just making my own room and letting only certain people with a high enough bar play. Kinda shitty that I have to do that, but that's how it works best.
I'll talk briefly about the 'Special Modes,' but there's not much to say. There's Time Attack and Survival mode, if you fully beat them you unlock taunts or costume colors. You'd think it would be semi-easy, as most people like to have these features from the start. No, no. Capcom didn't bar any holds here, either. Going through these modes is ridiculous as anything else in this game. They sometimes make you play through most of the characters in the game before ending a SECTION of the trial. I think there are 5 or so sections of each mode, and to unlock anything, you have to beat them all. The easy mode for each is decently paced and difficult, but the hard mode, which counts for the most bonuses is crazy. The first match or two you have to beat anywhere from 14-22 characters to even finish the section. It just makes everything annoying to say the least. There is no reason for this. I can understand that maybe some of the tournament players(the best SF players of all) would appreciate the challenge, but everyone else who is an average player like me just gets pissed and disappointed. I'm not willing to become a tournament player just to unlock some stupid alternate costume colors. I don't have THAT much time to waste.
Or do I? I am sitting here, after all...
Citations, just to prove I'm not just blowing steam:
Capcom admits overpowered characters: http://www.joystiq.com/2009/07/13/capcom-admits-to-overpowered-seth-and-sagat-in-street-fighter-iv/
Capcom says Seth will be even cheaper in SSFIV: http://kotaku.com/5385868/capcom-seth-will-be-cheaper-in-super-street-fighter-iv