The last two weeks of February had an unusual number of high quality game releases. It was the kind of games barrage that you only see during the holiday months, so to be flooded during what is normally a dry period was odd. Very welcome, but still odd. Unfortunately for me, various work commitments, including a return to the nine to five routine and the one hour commutes have left me with little time for any of it. Well, apart from Street Fighter IV.
What I had been looking forward to the most was the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion The Lost and the Damned. I purchased and downloaded it on the day of release, and then never touched it. There was a rationale for this. Lost and the Damned was story driven, full of long missions, treks across the city, and lots of exposition, and thus required a proper time investment. On the other hand, Street Fighter IV was all about of instant gratification. Sign in, have few bouts and move on. It allows for very piecemeal gaming which, with my schedule over the last few weeks, was essential for me.
So it’s kind of funny to see “time played” well in excess of forty hours. And that’s despite barely touching the game in a week! Forty. In that time, I probably could have finished Lost and the Damned twice. It seemed like a logical rationalization at the time.
I like Street Fighter IV a lot but I feel as though I’m already reaching my limits with the game. It might persist as an occasional pick-up-and-play title for years (Street Fighter II always had such history with me), but I can’t see involved competitive play, multiplayer and otherwise, lasting. The reasons are many, from a really unbalanced difficulty curve (for single player), to serious control issues, to the complete clusterfuck that is ranked play. The latter has the greatest chance for a proper fix, but the other issues — and I might get into them later — are inherent to the game design. It’s a shame. I really love the core of Street Fighter IV, but a lot of these are intractable and really off-putting.
Sirlin covers a lot of these better than I could, along with a bunch of extra high-level gripes (but a dedicated run and block button? I don’t know if I can get behind that, even if I own runbutton.com)
SFIV has brought me the closest to physically destroying a controller since, maybe, F-Zero GX. The kind of profanities this game gets out of me are obscene. So no matter how much I might love it, the frustration it elicits is just too much to handle. I should get out while I’m ahead (and holding on to a thousand battle points;) this game stresses me out more than work deadlines.