"Return of the Beatdown!" is the slogan of the newest addition in the Street Fighter series. As a long-time fan of arcade-style Street Fighter I had to immediately rent this game when it came out and give it a try for myself. I think you will all be very happy to hear that this game does not disappoint. Street Fighter manages to still be a 2D fighter while pumping up the game with beautiful 3D environments and responsive combos that work surprisingly well even with a regular 360 controller. If you want to be hardcore you can pick up one of the limited edition arcade controllers or arcade sticks that released with the game, but I have to say these are becoming extremely scarce as fans are realizing they are worth the 50 bucks you have to fork out to get one. The fight stick DOES make it easier to execute combos, but the 360 controller (or dualshock, if you have PS3) really aren't that hard to adapt to. If need be you can always go into training mode and hone your skills.
Arcade mode, as usual, only has a flimsy story for you to follow, but this series has never really been about in-depth plot so I don't really see this as a loss. There are some cool anime-style cinemas that string you along as you kick butt from country to country. The backgrounds are sooooo shiny! I can't get over how great this game looks. The characters are sort of cell-shaded, and the shadows and lighting that grace them as they move through the environments give them a lot of depth.
Darci and I decided to play the only character we ever play, Chun Li, but I did give some of the other characters a shot as well. Chun Li still has her trademark spinning bird kick and fabulously huge thunder thighs. Ultra-Meter moves are different for every character but if you can work up a combo using your full meter you can completely obliterate your opponent. Characters like El Fuerte are SUPER FAST, and when you face them on higher difficulties in arcade mode they can hand you your butt with their Ultra-Meter combos. Even on normal difficulty this game is quite challenging the first time through, so if you're looking for a fighting game to give you a hard time, crank that difficulty level up and resist the urge to chuck your controller into a wall when you get pwnd.
Oh, and if you don't own two controllers... get a second, or you'll be sad.
If you have XBOX Live you can challenge others (and vice versa) while playing through arcade mode. Hooray multi-player!
So get out there and kick some ass!
Lady Lara Jones