In many ways, Capcom were the progenitors of the loose concept of DLC. Even before we arrived at the modern sense of the term, Capcom made an art out of the practice of making numerous iterations of the same game with a few changes and additions. Street Fighter 2 appeared in no less than seven forms over the years – across sixteen platforms – and people continued to lap it up, parting with their money in shops and arcades around the world.
Street Fighter IV has taken a very similar approach, with the addition of the modern concept of digital DLC opening new revenue streams for Capcom. Whether you agree with the various DLC business models or not, it must clearly be working as publishers continue to dish it out, in new and exciting piecemeal ways, and we keep lapping it up.
Either way, we arrive at Ultra Street Fighter IV, and with its port to the PS4, what should be the definitive edition of a title that’s been built up, balanced, and re-balanced numerous times over the past seven years. Except, crucially, it’s not. The port to PS4, as is the case with any number of such transitions between platforms, was handled by an external team at Other Ocean Interactive rather than in-house at Capcom or Dimps, and it’s plain that they didn’t lavish the same kind of care and attention it potentially needed.
There have been a host of other reported problems, the most dire of which include changes to character’s move-sets and increased input-lag, which essentially renders the title utterly broken for anyone who plays the game seriously. Each of the previous versions had different levels of input-lag, with the 360 version holding sway over the arcade, PC and PS3 versions. The fact that the more powerful PS4 can’t match the experience available on a nearly decade-old platform is appalling.
Let’s be clear though, none of the problems, from those in the menu systems to the in-game action, make the game unplayable. Ultra Street Fighter IV on PS4 plays an adequate game of Street Fighter, which may be damning it with faint praise, but there is still that same core experience in place. From this point Capcom can no doubt step in and help patch the title, but as with many recent releases, this will mean that early adopters will have to hold out for the finished article. Let’s face it, this is a terrifying trend within the games industry at the moment, but at the very least there are now ways back from here that troubled titles in the past never had.
On the positives the visuals are crisp and clear, though players of the last-gen versions of the game may be surprised by the lack of anti-aliasing on PS4, giving it a slightly more ragged appearance compared to the Xbox 360 version. It’s different enough to distract at first, but you do quickly become accustomed to it.
Of course, the release of Ultra Street Fighter IV on PS4 was supposed to prepare players for next year’s exclusive Street Fighter 5. The idea presumably being to draw the serious Street Fighter IV players from the 360 across to what will be the sequel’s only platform. Some might argue that with this less-than-stellar port the brand will have been damaged, and that trust will have to be regained.
Anyone that takes Street Fighter seriously will probably have faith in the fact that Capcom are capable of crafting a worthy successor and that it will not be another party at the helm. In fairness to the team handling the port, we don’t know the budget, or time-frame they were expected to work within, but we do know that Capcom and/or Sony approved the release, despite its issues.
There is a definitive version of Ultra Street Fighter IV available now, but it’s on the Xbox 360. The fact that this version is the one being used at the Evo tournament speaks volumes to its performance and reliability. The likelihood is that if you’re serious about the game you’ll own this version, you’ll have Xbox 360 fight-sticks, and you won’t be hugely interested in playing it on PS4. It’ll be the sequel that interests you.
The culture of remastering and porting for the current generation is an interesting one. There are those like the recent Final Fantasy X/X-2 on the PS4 that take the extra power on offer and turn in the definitive version of a popular game. On the other hand, you have releases like The Borderlands Collection that ship with serious performance issues, with players having to wait for patches to arrive to achieve the finished article. Ultra Street Fighter IV on PS4 sadly falls into the second category, and while casual players will still find plenty of fun to be had, with the added value of all of the previously released costumes included, those serious about the brand are best waiting. Chances are they’ll be too busy playing on 360 to notice.