Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fireballs and Uppercuts: Street Fighter IV Part 3

I promised a character breakdown, but I think if I were to go through every character, well, not only would we be here for a while, but I also cannot claim to know the ins and outs of every single character (especially since the game is so new), and thus my assessment would not be worth much. Instead, I'll group the characters and discuss each group, with highlights for the characters I know need a bit of work.

The Glass Cannon (Akuma, C.Viper, Seth) A personal favorite of mine, these characters are low health, high damage output characters. They're also usually very mobile to make sure you have the tools to avoid being hit. The Glass Cannon gets the biggest benefit, percentage-wise, from the health increase we mentioned back in the first session. Overall this type works well in SF4, as each of these characters has the tools they need to close or create space as needed (teleport, super jump, teleport, respectively). A couple quick notes, however:
  • Akuma has a Raging Demon Super, AND a Raging Demon Ultra. For his ultimate move it certainly does seem to have its variations. Unfortunately this really creates an unnecessary predictability, especially considering the nature of the Raging Demon (easy to escape if you're watching for it). Instead, let's give him a Fireball Super - which can also be done in the air a la 3rd Strike - and replace his Ultra with his Super, which does less damage but grabs the opponent faster.
  • Viper is a little too twitchy, and though she has a ridiculous amount of combo and cross-up options, she has to work REALLY hard for a win. I would up her damage on normals very slightly, and I think that would really make her an amazing character.
The Charger (Guile, Vega, Bison, E.Honda, Blanka, Balrog) There isn't too much to say about this group in general. In a game that lends itself a little more heavily towards defensive play, a character that has you holding down-back to do all your moves is going to be powerful, and most of these characters are. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the fact that, though they have their differences, they play somewhat similarly, and the differences more or less end up with some characters being left behind. Let's do a little breakdown:
  • Guile, despite the previous statement, plays unlike any of the other characters. Unfortunately he's been weakened a lot in his current incarnation. An easy drastic improvement is to make his Super and Ultra moves a double quarter circle forward motion. This not only makes them easier to perform in general, but also allows him to land them after a Dash Cancel. Also his Ultra needs to be beefed up a bit. It should be doing as much as it does now, under the new revamped rules back in the first SF4 post.
  • Vega also needs a shortcut for his Super and Ultra (if you can't tell, I am not a fan of that ridiculous motion). He should also either not lose his claw at all, or gain a minor boost of speed without it. The fact that he loses it after taking only half of his health is ludicrous. Also, his roll should start up much faster than it does now. In its current incarnation it's utterly useless.
  • E.Honda is in pretty bad shape. He has a lot of damage output, but is a charge character who has a lot of trouble making it to his opponent. His EX headbutt should be able to absorb one hit - as Balrog's EX punches do. In addition his standing fierce punch should do a little less damage in exchange for being at least a decent anti-air attack.
The Grappler (Abel, El Fuerte, Zangief)
Characters whose soul purpose is to get in your face and grab you. They are generally high damage, high health, slow speed (we'll get to this in a second), and the challenge in playing them is in closing the distance and being able to set up the grabs. Grabs in SFIV are pretty beefed up so, in general, these characters are easier to play than in previous games. There is, however, one exception:
  • El Fuerte. A completely different kind of grappler, high speed, low health, low damage. His game revolves around his run and the moves he can perform during it. Unfortunately this is also one of his greatest shortcomings - he can only do two moves without performing a run first, and while he can cancel out of the run at any point, it makes moves that should be straightforward require extra inputs and it just makes him a pain. In addition to that he simply doesn't have a lot of options to make up for his incredibly low health and damage.

    So, let's fix him up a bit shall we? First things first, let's up his damage output by about 10% across the board. This should make him a little more competitive and make his grabs actually worth performing. Let's also give him the ability to do all of his throw options from a standing position with a standard DP motion (F, D, DF). Last but not least, let's change his Quesadilla Bomb from charging a kick button, to charging B, F+kick, to ensure that holding it down doesn't remove any options (EXing it means you can't use two kick buttons until you let go) and will remove the aggravation in letting it go at the wrong time and getting nothing.
  • Zangief is almost fine as he is. More powerful than he's ever been really. But his lariats need fixing. They hit too often and have too much invincibility. If Honda does his Ultra, it will push AGAINST Zangief's lariat until it's over, and then the lariat will hit Honda on recovery. You should be able to punish this move if it's thrown out for no reason.
The Rushdown Master (a lot)
A lot of characters fit into this category - characters made to pressure your opponent. In general, it's hard to catch someone who doesn't want to be caught in SFIV, and rushing is tricky. Sure we could change the game around, but the better choice is to give characters more options. You don't want to make defensive play worthless, but you want the rushers to not feel like they're fighting an uphill battle. It's all about the tools.
  • Chun Li is almost entirely fine as she is. She has charge moves, which seem out of place for a rushing character, but placing them properly really gives her a lot of options at any point in the match. The ONLY issue here really, is that a charge Super/Ultra has no place on a character like this. Change her motion to a double QCF.
  • Fei Long is almost there, his Flying Kick/Chicken Wing is very useful for closing distances, and can even crossup a ducking opponent occasionally. If done at the right distance it's incredibly difficult to punish as well. The motion is silly though, so let's go ahead and change that to a DP motion. (Side note, let's do this for Cammy's Hooligan throw as well.)

    Also, his Tenshin needs to be way more useful than it is. The timing is ridiculous, and the options off of it aren't what they should be. The stun effect from it needs to last longer than it does. In addition, the EX needs to come out faster and have a higher priority than it does now.
Extra Notes
The one type of character I haven't touched on is your standard, well-rounded average character. I feel most of these are fine as is, and will be balanced by a lot of the changes previously mentioned. A few final notes:
  • Sagat needs his damage toned down by about 10% across the board. He already has a lot of really useful options, powerful moves, and a good deal of health, and his damage should reflect how well he does at everything else.
  • Gen could really use his chains from his previous incarnations. He's lacking a bit in his current form.
  • Rose should be able to combo in a Soul Throw from a juggle.

That's it for the time being. I lied about this being the last installment though, I'll probably do one more dealing with, well, everything else. THAT will be the last one though. Honest.

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