Ultra Street Fighter IV
Since the 2009 release of Street Fighter IV, this rock-'em, sock-'em fighting game has gotten quite a bit of critical praise and any number of remixes and expansions. Versions have come and gone in a flurry of fists with words like Super and Arcade attached to the title. So many have been released, in fact, that with the advent of Ultra edition, I thought it was high time to check in on the franchise and write a review update.
The story side of things hasn't changed a bit. The weapons-manufacturing S.I.N. corporation is still out to create an ultimate fighting weapon (or maybe now it's a super-ultra-ultimate fighting weapon) and is using a wide variety of gifted battle tournament champions to test-drive its experiments. That tourney conspiracy weaves its way through all of the short cutscenes and fighter backstories. But, at best, it's really nothing more than an unresolved skeletal scenario used to justify having muscular brawlers bash their way through colorful streets and exotic locales.
So what is new in this pumped-up imprint? Well, frankly, most of it is the kind of stuff only seasoned Street Fighter fans will instantly recognize or appreciate. But there are also six new stages and five new fighters added since the last remix.
The riding crop-wielding Poison, the grenade-chucking soldier Rolento, the massive wrestler Hugo and the flexible Kenyan battler Elena are all also part of the crossover game Street Fighter X Tekken. So the only truly fresh face here is Decapre, a psychotic Russian (female) clone who comes packing an impressive array of wrist-blade attacks.
Altogether now, the fighting cast includes 44 colossal and quirky combatants (up from the original game's 18). Each one has his or her own brand of kicking, punching and somersault-flipping moves, not to mention their various attack actions.
... And Updated ...
Timing, precision, prediction and reaction are all part of the game in a brawling title like this. And Ultra adds a feature called "Edition Select" to help with those necessaries. It allows players to select different versions of characters based on their properties in past Street Fighter IV iterations. It also packs in some brand-new game mechanics, such as Ultra Double, Red Focus attacks and Delayed Wake-Up, to give seasoned players a whole new layer of strategy to work with.
...But Not Necessarily Improved
All of that actually makes this version of the title a little more difficult for newbies or even casual veterans to simply pick up and button-mash your way through. It's not just about fighting anymore, clearly. It's about knowing and habitually practicing a desired fighter's specific skill set and move list.
It's also worth reiterating some of the negatives I laid out in my original Street Fighter IV review, because they're still very much present here. Touches of Eastern mysticism swirl around some of the characters and their martial arts moves. Occasional uses of "h---" and "d--n" can pop out in the disappointed exclamations of a few washed-out warriors. And while there's no blood splashing during the fiercely frenetic and bone-crushing battles, slashing blades and other thumping weapons add an "artistic" tinge of red to the percussive flash of impact.
Heavily muscled guys are regularly shirtless just for the show of it all. And the gals don't always keep their bulging bodies all covered up either. The newly added Poison, for instance, fights in a ridiculous getup consisting of teeny short shorts, a barely there falling-off-one-shoulder crop top ... and stiletto heels. And the undulating exotic battler Elena wears little more than thin strips of linen.
So it's all "just" another Ultra dose of macho mash, bash, crash and slash with some titillation fighting for attention too.