log

August 27, 2009

Updates

I love it! Earlier today I downloaded and installed the Visio Viewer 2007 from Microsoft, at a size of 7MB. An hour later I get an Automatic Update prompt for Visio Viewer 2007 Service Pack 2, weighing in at 6.6MB. There’s value there somewhere.

Also, why is it an Internet Explorer plugin, when the Powerpoint Viewer is a real program?

posted by Andrew

August 13, 2009

SF4

So I’ve been playing Street Fighter IV on and off for the last month. I’m a long-term SF player, around since SF2 World Warrior hit the arcade, keeping up with the mainstream titles all through the absurd suffix era, Third Strike, the Alpha games, el spammo versus and CVS. SF4 is the clunkiest, most sluggish, ill-designed SF game of the lot.

I’d love to blame it on my reflexes getting dodgier as I age, a lack of sleep or even my Australian bush internet connection. No, I don’t think so.

Focus is the same crappy unblockable system that I hated from Soul Calibur, with the addition that it can’t be broken by single hits. It’s the ultimate anti-air in a game with no air blocking. Was it introduced to train us away from jumping in? Well done.

Ultras connect in the most absurd situations, almost requiring bad timing to connect. The most glaringly broken is Rose, whose ground-based ribbon throw bullshit connected with Vega mid-Barcelona Attack, somehow setting him on his feet on the ground. It doesn’t even make sense. Others come to mind in no particular order: Seth (almost full-screen ultra, connecting with an opponent in the air), Balrog (juggles from practically any position), Ryu (juggles from a simple anti-air dragon even though no other fireballs do), Rufus (ultra will juggle anyone from almost any position, including air, and is unescapable), Honda (ground-based but catches people jumping in, even though it makes no sense whatsoever, even visually), Sagat (ultra resets the opponent’s velocity and position, no matter what they were doing), and Dhalsim (slow-moving fireball that when combined with an instant teleport + fierce punch is practically impossible to escape).

The timing of ultras in general make no sense, and I’d go so far as to say that triggering them too early is actually required. Several times I triggered Guile’s ultra with what I thought was perfect timing and was blocked, yet computer and online opponents trigger much too early to visually connect and they’ll hit. As with Sagat mentioned above when an ultra connects it puts you in the equivalent of a custom state, removing all your previous velocity and acceleration so you’ll stay locked into the cinematic. That’s shitty. Previous games in the SF series that didn’t feature cinematic wankathon ultras happily respected those attributes and required skill to catch someone in a super properly. Ryu’s SF3 Shin Shoryuken was bad enough, but imagine if Ken’s dragon super locked you in place to ensure every hit connected, or Chunli’s lightning kick super clipped you once in the air and reset you to standing so you’d get hit by it all. Fugly.

Ultras that allow excessive juggling are programmed to force the player into position to continue the juggle. Balrog.

Overall I consider Ultras a totally broken concept from the beginning. The cinematics are the equivalent of geek porn. They’re not interesting after the first time, they’re statically shot, and they require no continued skill to execute past the initial flailing of directionals. Sit back and watch someone’s health reduce for five seconds.

Input buffer time in this game is inexplicably long. You can execute a dragon when you block someone’s attack and it’ll come out a full second later. This makes the game feel sluggish, almost turn based. It’s especially hideous when you realise you executed a special too early and expect it to fail, line up a different special for the exact time of block release, and then suddenly the dragon comes out of nowhere. Cognitive dissonance ahoy!

The animations vary between very nice and attrocious. So much of Ryu’s animation set is just horrible. I’ll leave the discussion of the game’s art style for another time, but I’ll take a parting shot: Ryu looks like he’s been repeatedly backed over by a truck followed by a tissue-rejected face transpant from someone with the rage. What pot/crack/ego trip were the art team on when they decided on hilarious scary and hurt faces for the characters? If you’re taking this much creative license with the source material’s history then it’s clear you’re only using the Street Fighter name for brand recognition and sales.

Everything with exception of crouching strong takes two minutes to come out. Crouching strong on the shotokan characters has a hit priority higher than God. I wish I could turn hitboxes on to see what the deal is with certain moves. Smooth animation DOES NOT WORK FOR STREET FIGHTER. Leave it for something like Soul Calibur that has a suitable collision system. When you kick a foot out, when does that foot switch from bounding-box to hit-box? (For those comfortable with Mugen terminology, when does it go from just CLSN2 to CLSN1?) There’s no telling at 60 fps. I can’t make timing decisions in this situation. Maybe that’s why they willingly b0rked the timing so much; just throw things out early, and hope you don’t cross collision boxes and trade damage.

Since when you can combo two crouching strongs? What the fuck? Next we’ll be connecting two standing fierces in a row as long as you can get the milisecond timing exact. Why be so exact with timing in this case and screw it up everywhere else?

There’s more innovation and system depth in one of P.O.T.S’ characters than in this entire game. It’s a sluggish wankathon of technically accomplished yet painfully ugly VFX with a bizarrely lopsided subset of previous SF game system features and I wish the review industry had correctly trashed it instead of bowing to the almighty series comeback marketing machine.

posted by Andrew