XBA Review: Ultra Street Fighter IV
Written Tuesday, June 03, 2014 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Let's see. What more is there to tell you about Ultra Street Fighter IV that you don't already know? It's an add-on for Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, but you already know that. It has five new characters, but you probably already know that too. There's a bunch of new balancing tweaks and adjustments that most are unlikely to notice, and a smattering of new features. We're betting that you know all of this and also already know whether you're going to buy it or not.
So, we'll get to the bottom of whether or not Ultra Street Fighter IV is actually worth buying, sort of like a review. Or exactly like a review. Oh, wait! This is a review! Convenient. For your money, you're actually getting a fair bit out of Ultra Street Fighter IV. Every single fighter has been lavished due attention with an exhaustive list of changes, and you're able to choose from any of the multiple versions of them via a new pre-fight option in the character select screen. That's already a big tick in the list of positives for Ultra Street Fighter IV, but it's the new challengers that obviously prove the biggest draw.
Hugo, Poison, Rolento and Elena make the jump from Street Fighter X Tekken, adapted to slot in seamlessly with the rest of the Street Fighter IV posse. They look and feel like they belong, and after a while you'll be glad that they're present in the roster, occupying the right-hand side of the character select screen. Decapre is the game's fifth, all-new fighter, who is more than just a Cammy re-skin. Granted her basic moves and overall look are close to that of Cammy, but she's a charge character with markedly different specials and finishers to her non-evil counterpart.
It's Poison who emerges as an early favourite, however. As we noted in our recent preview, she's by far the easiest character to get to grips with, offering some devastating overhead options and a vertical dragon punch-like corkscrew kick that effectively counters jumping opponents. Her pink projectile summoned by a flash of her whip might fizzle out quickly, but her speed and versatility make her a fantastic all-rounder, and a character that's rewarding to fight as.
Conversely, her Final Fight Mad Gear stablemate Hugo is a man mountain, and plays as such. He's the slowest and most lumbering character by some margin, but what he lacks in speed he more than makes up for in crushing grapple moves and huge, sweeping, almost inescapable punches and dropkicks. His combo potential is severely lacking, making him a character that proves incredibly hard to master. Perseverance will no doubt unlock his devastating power in time, but whether you can be bothered putting in the hours when there are so many better and more immediate fighters on offer is another question altogether.
Elena is every bit as fast and lethal as she was in Street Fighter III, offering high and low mix ups and some kicks with incredible reach, as well as great overheads that can lead into some badass combos. Then there's Rolento, whose acrobatics, staff twirling and knife throwing antics make him a dangerous opponent in the right hands. His off-the-wall kick move is especially hard to combat, but great for opening up combos.
As a new charge character, Decapre offers something a little different, with an aerial teleporting kick that can be timed to land at just the right moment, while hammering a punch button breaks out her flailing arm blades, chipping down an opponent's vitality with a flurry of rapid strikes. She's also a fighter with a lot of options, boasting a variety of dash and cancel moves to bait opponents and two pretty damn effective Ultras to choose from.
That said, you no longer have to choose an Ultra to take into a fight if you'd rather not. Ultra Street Fighter IV now enables players to use both at once during a fight, at the expense of their efficacy in dealing damage. Use both during a Ranked Match, and you'll even unlock an achievement for 50G. Yes.
Other major additions to SF IV's core game mechanics include the new ability to delay standing up for up to 11 frames longer than usual, giving you additional time in rising after being knocked down; and Red Focus. This allows you to absorb any number of hits using two cells in your Super meter, charging your Ultra gauge twice as fast. EX Red Focus and Red Focus deal 1.5x the usual damage, presenting even more options for veteran players who thought they'd mastered everything that Street Fighter IV has thrown at them thus far.
New backdrops lifted from Street Fighter X Tekken also make the cut for Ultra Street Fighter IV, and very pretty they are too, giving you more vistas to ogle as fights play out. There's a revised Team Battle mode and a new Online Training Mode too that allows you to train against another human player with no health bar restrictions, but the rest of the various changes and balancing tweaks enter the realm of frame numbers, hitboxes, animations and adjustments to damage and health. It's an indication as to what kind of an audience Ultra Street Fighter IV is aimed at. The devoted hardcore, first and foremost. The community of players who stream fights, voraciously watch replays and tune into EVO religiously. It's those players who will get the most out of USF IV.
As far as achievements are concerned, Ultra doesn't really add much beyond tasking players with beating the Arcade mode with each of the five new characters on medium difficulty or above without using a continue, winning one Ranked Match as a new fighter and using both Ultra Combos in one fight. That's about the long and short of it. It's an easy list. No fuss, no muss. Other rewards come for those with Street Fighter X Tekken save data. You'll get an alternate costume for each of the five new challengers, which is a nice bonus.
Where Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition offered new characters and a few new features, Ultra Street Fighter IV offers a slew of new content, making it feel like the most comprehensive expansion for the game yet. If you're still playing Super Street Fighter IV to this day, then a purchase is an absolute no-brainer. If on the other hand you've yet to delve into the best fighting game money can buy, then you might do well to wait for the physical retail release this August. Otherwise, there really is no reason not to snap up Ultra Street Fighter IV, the definitive and presumably final iteration of Capcom's world-beating fighter.