August 27, 2009


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


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