Street Fighter IV is arguably the most important fighting game since Street Fighter II. It’s original release reinvigorated the fighting game genre and brought it back into mainstream consciousness. Ultra Street Fighter IV’s PS4 release is nothing new, and that’s a great thing.
Fighting games tend to enjoy much longer lives than their contemporaries from other genres. Typically, however, that means having to lug an old console around well beyond its golden years. Having a comprehensive SF4 title jump to a current-gen console is a great convenience for fight fans that want a little less complication in their lives. Of course it helps that it’s a stellar game on any platform.
There’s nothing new about Ultra Street Fighter IV’s PS4 release. I said that, and it’s true. The pairing of the PS4’s sharing features with USF4’s gameplay makes for a great addition to the game. Fighting games have benefitted greatly from streaming and sharing clips across the internet. If you wanted to stream or share your clips from the original, last-gen Street Fighter IV releases, you’d have to buy additional hardware. Lowering that wall of entry to allow more players to share their game with others is always a great thing.
Hardcore fighting game fans aren’t going to play on a Dualshock 4, or any stock controller for that matter. Most own an arcade stick or other specialized pad, some of which can cost into the hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, those with PS3-compatible sticks can breathe a sigh of relief—of the sticks and pads I tested, all worked with USF4.
Sony last week announced USF4’s PS4 release would include drivers developed by Skullgirls developer Lab Zero. It looks like they made good on that, so if you have an old stick kicking around, now might be the time to dust it off.
The one caveat to that, is that you won’t be able to use those last-gen controllers from the PS4’s system menu, so don’t go tossing out that Dualshock 4 just yet. Same deal for sharing video, as those old controllers don’t have a share button.
Ultra Street Fighter IV is billed as the definitive version of the Street Fighter IV experience, and boy are they telling the truth. The PS4 re-release includes every single last bit of DLC for the SF4 series to date, including the purposely imbalanced Omega mode and all the alternate costumes for each of the game’s 44 characters.
The roster itself is perhaps the most diverse in Street Fighter history, borrowing from the original, the Alpha/Zero series, SF3 and of course Street Fighter II. Of course, Ultra Street Fighter IV also has its fair share of newcomers, several characters were imported from Final Fight over the course of SF4’s many releases, like Cody and Guy as well as Poison. For a fighting game, USF4 gives you a ton of content, especially considering the whole package will only set you back around 25 bucks.
Ultra Street Fighter IV is a master class in how to simplify games to broaden your audience. Street Fighter III, though a great game in its own right, was a tad complex for the casual fight fan, which in turn put some people off. Fortunately, the SF4 series took Capcom’s venerable brawler back to its roots, with systems that harkened back to the ‘90s arcade champion.
USF4 is a game full of mechanics that are simple to use, but difficult to master. All the familiar motions and moves are there, but they’re subtly different. Timing is more forgiving than SFIII, but a bit stricter than the SFII arcade-goers might remember. The result is a game that feels comfortable, but still presents a fresh challenge for those wanting to engage in high-level play. Once you get comfortable with basic moves and combos, you can branch out into intermediate techniques, like utilizing SF4’s new system, the focus attack, to extend combos instead of just absorbing a hit, or even into more advanced stuff like kara throwing if that’s your thing. Those strategies are the greatest thing about Street Fighter games. Every time you think you’ve reached the height of your potential, you discover a new trick to up your game.
When the last-gen versions of Street Fighter IV released, Xbox Live had something of an advantage over the then-fledgling PSN. Now, however, the experience on PS4 is every bit as good as Xbox Live, for fighting games, that’s an especially big deal.
I played several matches on the pre-release copy Sony provided me for the purpose of review and only felt standard amounts of lag, the same as you would in any of the best online fighters out there. All the standard modes are present, ranked matches, endless battle, tournaments, you name it.
All things considered, Ultra Street Fighter IV is the gold standard for online fighters, especially on PS4. It plays well, offers plenty of modes and lets you queue up for online matches even when you’re playing an offline mode. It’s what other fighters should aspire to.
Well, this is just weird. When you’re in a match, USF4 runs absolutely perfectly. When you’re looking through menus on the other hand, things are considerably worse. In certain modes pushing a button has a noticeable delay, character tiles rushing onto the screen are slower than they were on last-gen, too. Certain assets seem to be much lower resolution than the rest of the game, too.
It’s not a big deal, because you’re not buying this game for the menus, but it’s an odd distraction that I hope gets fixed. It’s the only part about USF4 that isn’t as good as the last-gen offerings.
Ultra Street Fighter IV is the best version of one of the best fighting games available on any console. It’s lost nothing in its transition from the last-gen consoles, but it hasn’t gained anything either. Don’t let that diminish your opinion of it though, USF4 is an awesome game and worth your time. Even as a five-year-old game, Ultra Street Fighter IV is the best fighting game available on current-gen consoles.
Update: In light of the bugs recently discovered by players post-release, we have updated our score of Ultra Street Fighter IV. We will re-assess the score after a patch is issued.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in.