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Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Had you asked me at any point past 1991 what the best fighter game out there was, my answer would have been Street Fighter 2. I played Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct and plenty of the other clones, but Street Fighter 2 created the genre, and it remained the best game in the genre. It's both sad and impressive that in the almost twenty years since the first fighter game came out, no one has been able to surpass it. The only things Street Fighter 2 ever really had going against it was the fact that it was a bit old and thus the graphics were dated, and that the death of the arcade meant that the only people you could play against were your friends.

The release of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the PS3 and XBox corrects both problems, making SF2 once again the greatest fighter ever, no contest. The graphics are clear and crisp 2D rendered in 1920 x 1080 resolution, the soundtrack has been updated (by fans, apparently), game balance has been fine tuned with the help of the hardcore that have been playing SF2 for nearly twenty years, and there's both friendly and ranked online play. This is awesome.

Unfortunately, though, it's not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I have the PS3 version, so I can only comment on that, and not the XBox 360 version. My initial impression of the PS3 was that it was a very slick machine, elegantly engineered. More and more I am getting the feeling that it is a very slick piece of crap. The interface shines, but between the problems I've had with Bionic Commando and Street Fighter 2 HD, I'm very much inclined to start buying multiplatform games - particularly the downloadable ones - on the XBox 360. I would, in fact, except for the fact that the 360 doesn't have wifi, and the adapter is stupid expensive.

But on to the actual problems. Network play - which is what I play 75% of the time, and which is all I play outside of in-person multiplayer - is shit. I would estimate that I spend as much time trying to get the game to play as I do actually playing it. I probably have as many failed attempts to create a match as I do actual matches. I hit Quick Match, and the game returns an unintelligible error. I get into a match lobby, and then the game returns an error. I get into the character selection screen, pick my characters, get shown the versus screen, and then get an error. The game also has a habit of working itself into a completely inoperable state: if you get two errors at the same place in a row (particularly the versus screen) you can be sure that the game will continue to crash out at that point every single time. The only option is to quit the game and restart it.

Even if you get into a match, the network play is not perfect. I've had a few matches that were reduced to about three frames a second. The game carries on at full speed, but it's impossible to know what's going on, as if you jump, you'll see one frame of yourself in the air. Other matches provide slow downs at extremely inopportune times for me and extremely opportune times for my opponent. My attack is rendered in slow motion, giving my opponent time to leisurely counter it. It's also not all that rare that I see my attack hit, my opponent's life bar go down, and then I find myself hit with an attack instead, and my opponent's life bar is back up at full again. I feel cheated in about half the losses I take.

All of this makes it tricky to recommend the HD remake of Street Fighter II Turbo. Offline it's beautiful and wonderful and I love it. Online, it's an exercise in veering wildly from wonderful enjoyment to controller-smashing frustration - both from the game's terrible network play and the way some people will beat your ass mercilessly. Sometimes I play it for an hour and love it, sometimes I play it for five minutes and quit lest I break my sixty dollar Sixaxis against the wall. I'm not entirely sure what to tell you.


 
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