Street Fighter IV: Volt

Whilst small errors here and there detract from the overall fluid fighting experience, Street Fighter IV: Volt has a lot of great features going for it that more than justify its rather hefty price tag.

I remember owning a Street Fighter title on the Gameboy Advance when I was younger – and one thing I immediately appreciated about this title is how it seems to have remained faithful to its gaming heritage. A snazzy animated introduction featuring fan-favorite Ryu perfectly sets the scene… It’s just you, 18 playable characters and a whole load of button-bashing (or in this case, screen-tapping) to do!

At its core – Volt is very much a pricey “upgrade” to last March’s installment, Street Fighter IV. Whilst the core gameplay appears to be the same, there are a few enticing features bundled into this package that will definitely make it appealing to hardcore fans of the franchise or new-comers looking for a substantial fighting game. There are three new characters: Vega (who uses Wolverine-like hand blades), Cody (who whoops me every single time I’m up against him) and Balrog (not quite Lord of the Rings) … Oh wait! Make that four if you include the unlockable character Akuma!

More importantly, however, is Capcom’s addition of online multiplayer (via Wi-Fi only) and the all-new “Battle Network” mode allowing you to team up with your mates. I was skeptical about it all at first; the concept of team-play and drop-in/drop-out battles (when “Fight Request” is switched on) being ideas that usually work well on paper, but when executed on gadgets such as a mobile phone quite often fall flat on their faces. Boy was I wrong! Within seconds I was being match-made to all sorts of opponents from all around the globe, getting my bottom handed to me by strangers I have never met and would never want to meet again. This is all neatly tied together with win/loss records, leader board rankings and a “challenge yourself” type bingo-card which recommends you win games in certain ways to earn more points for your customizable Street Fighter avatar.

I know I’m nowhere near good enough to head online (which warrants my criticism of maintaining an insanely steep learning curve), but I must say this is in no way helped by a slightly dodgy “controls” translation from games console to iPhone. Joysticks are all well and good, but I often find moving left and right using the small icon in the bottom left hand corner of the screen provided extremely counter-productive. This isn’t the first game I’ve encountered that uses this touch-screen joystick mechanism to control your characters, both and Rayman 2 use the exact same idea and again I feel there must be some other way. Perhaps it takes some getting used to? I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of though is that unlike GTA and Rayman, Street Fighter IV is a 90-second fast-paced action spectacle where correct timing is vital – and accidentally swiping your finger off the radius of the control so that you’re left standing still isn’t exactly helpful.

All in all though, controls are just a minor niggle that rarely detract from the level of detail and quality that is evident in this game. Whilst it didn’t keep me playing for too long, the time I did spend with the title was very enjoyable – and I’m sure fans of arcade fighting games (or indeed of the Street Fighter franchise) will enjoy endless hours of hardcore fighting fun with this game (provided you have a Wi-Fi or home internet connection).