How I've avoided to avoid touching Street Fighter IV for this long is a mystery to me, but today marks the very first time I've gotten to play the next chapter in Capcom's venerable fighting franchise. The company had an early Xbox 360 build available in their press room, which they were using to highlight focus attacks, a new feature in SFIV that gives players a rather powerful new way to beat their foes into submission. It has been a long time since I had actually gotten to play Street Fighter in any incarnation, but it's like riding a bike - you never completely forget. Once Ryu was in my control I immediately jump kicked, foot swept and fireballed. Ah yes, it's all coming back to me.
So what are Focus Attacks? Every character has access to these powerful moves, which are as simple as holding down the mid punch and kick buttons. A quick tap equals a simple attack. Charging the attack leads to a powerful attack that knocks down and stuns your opponent, opening him up to all sorts of juggle combos. Fully charging the attack makes the knock down and stun move completely unblockable, so once you hear the telltale charging sound you'd best either try to interrupt or get the hell out of the way.
Each character has their own Focus Attack with varying power and range - Ryu's is a powerful punch, Ken unleashes a spinning kick, Blanka swipes animalistically and masked wrestler El Fuerte is sure to annoy opponents with the longest range focus attack of them all.
Despite the early build, gameplay was fast and fluid on the Xbox 360, with each Focus Attack accompanied by a nifty ink-swath effect, as if the move were being drawn on screen. Very impressive.
I mainly played as Ryu, but towards the end of the session I decided to see what sort of moves the bulbous Rufus had up his sleeves. I don't remember exactly what his move was, however, transfixed by his undulating flab and the shock of golden hair spiking up from the crotch of his outfit.
"It's just his treasure trail," explained the Capcom rep, after the horrified look on my face was noticed. Gathering up my things I shook my head. "There's no treasure to be found there. Not for us."