‘Street Fighter IV’ thigh high

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By Phillip Levin

By Phillip Levin

When Capcom announced that it was developing “Street Fighter IV,” fans reacted with a fitting combination of excitement and caution. Capcom’s classic series has had its ups and downs. Would “Street Fighter IV” be an up or a down? The gaming community was abuzz, wondering what to expect — hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. But while plenty were concerned about the actual quality of the game, many were equally worried about stranger things. You know, like Chun-Li’s thighs.

Capcom nailed it, resurrecting one of the industry’s most beloved series. There’s no doubt fans will love the game, more than they enjoy Chun-Li’s abnormal thighs.

Over the years, the character’s chunky thighs have become somewhat important to “Street Fighter” devotees, apparently. Fans typed on message boards comments like, Capcom better not ruin this game, and it better not thin down Chun-Li’s thighs. Turns out, Capcom didn’t do either of these things. Her thighs are larger than ever. Strangely enough, just the way fans like her.

It’s hard not to be drawn to the anticipated sequel. Not only is this the first numbered installment in the series in 10 years, it features an eye-catching art direction that is markedly different from its predecessors.

In motion, it doesn’t look as much like a game as it does a super stylized cartoon. The only downside is that Capcom didn’t use the awesome game engine for cut-scenes. Instead, it uses anime-style cut-scenes that just look ordinary. But nobody on earth plays “Street Fighter” for the cut-scenes. The attraction is the actual game play, and thankfully, that’s where its strength lies. Despite the 3D graphics, the game sticks with the tried, true and cherished 2D game play that made the series a hit to begin with.

The game plays and feels like an upgraded version of “Street Fighter II,” which is something fans of the game are sure to be thankful for. Once you pick up the controller, it’s hard to put it down.

Fans of “Street Fighter II” will be happy to learn that Capcom has ditched the annoying, game-ruining counter system from “Street Fighter III.” Taking its place is the Ultra Combo system. As you’re attacked, you fill your combo meter until it reaches Ultra status, at which point you can pull off a tremendously powerful move.

The idea is to give players who have become the victim of relentless combos a chance to get back in the game.

The Ultra Combo system works well enough and definitely makes the game more accessible to people who have never played before. If you’re new to the series, you’ll appreciate it. If you’re a hardcore “Street Fighter” fan who has been playing the series every day for the last 10 years, you may respond less warmly.

You may also observe that “Street Fighter IV” is more forgiving when it comes to timing your button presses than previous iterations.

All around, the game is certainly friendlier to newcomers than past installments.

Despite the similarities to “Street Fighter II,” this is a full sequel and it has the content to prove it. Capcom has brought back many familiar faces, such as Ryu, Chun-Li and Guile, but it also introduces many new characters, including the obese Rufus and end-game boss Seth.

The developer has even given some new moves to returning characters, which is a nice touch.

There’s one glaring problem, though. If you want to unlock extra characters, you have to play the arcade mode. You can’t unlock anything from playing multiplayer.

Considering many players will spend most of their time in the multiplayer mode, it makes no sense that you can’t unlock new characters playing it. And the cheap artificial intelligence in the single-player mode makes the task of unlocking new characters frustrating.

Another thing Capcom should do is demand a refund from whoever was in charge of voice acting the game. The voices, especially the announcer, are as annoying as they come.

In addition to the single-player and offline multiplayer, Capcom has included an online mode.

Fighting games often don’t fare well when it comes to online play. The game’s only been available for a couple of weeks, but so far, it seems “Street Fighter IV” is one of the better online fighters in this regard.

“Street Fighter IV” almost didn’t happen; Capcom nearly didn’t make it.

It could easily be one of the best fighters of this generation. But only time will tell if it will be.

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