By Andres Hernandez
The Street Fighter franchise needs no introduction, as any self-respecting gamer has surely played one iteration or another. Street Fighter II basically defined the fighting game genre in the early 90’s and Capcom continues to keep the tradition alive twenty years later. Today we will find out if this title is a worthy successor in the series, and how well it holds up in stereoscopic 3D.
This latest version in the series, Super Street Fighter IV (SSFIV) Arcade Edition builds upon the successful mechanics of the original SFIV while adding ten additional characters, new super moves, new gameplay modes, and some balancing tweaks to the game. While still basically the same title as its non-super predecessor, Capcom has managed to add enough new content to the game to make it feel fresh and give fans a reason to come back.
In total there are 35 characters, the 25 from the original and 10 new ones. However, now all the characters are unlocked from the beginning, so players are provided with a much greater choice from the start. All 12 of the original SFII cast remain, in addition to a mix of characters from other Street Fighter releases and a few new-comers as well. With the range of characters provided, there really is something for everyone. From classic favorites like Ryu and Chun-Li to fresh faces like Abel, a mixed martial artist, or Rufus, an overweight Kung Fu fighter, it can really take weeks just to get acclimated with each character’s style.
The basic premise is simple: you pick a character and enter the fighting tournament. Included are a variety of play modes, such as arcade and versus, and you can even play online with friends or random opponents. When starting arcade mode, you are treated to a brief Japanese anime style intro, and whisked away to different locations around the world to fight. The difficulty and various options for the fights can be set at the beginning, but at default the best out of three rounds wins. At that point the two players duke it out to see who is the best fighter. The game is played with an 8-way directional control and six attack buttons (3 kick, 3 punch). Although you can play with the keyboard, I did not find this to be very useful or fun. Fortunately, you can plug in a fully supported Xbox360 controller into your PC.
If you have played previous Street Fighter games, then you should know what to expect. This is a solid arcade-style fighting game, and great to play with friends or online. I guess the best part is that it’s an easy “pick up and play” type of game. After a long day at work, you can wind down and beat some people up from the comfort of your computer chair. You can also play for two minutes or two hours – unlike some single-player games that require more of a committed time investment. If you are looking for a good fighting game, there are very few choices on the PC, so this is your ticket – and it’s a good one at that.
Intel Core2Duo E8400 3.6GHz
Windows 7 64-bit
NVIDIA 3D Vision / ASUS VG236H
NVIDIA 280.26 Stereo Driver
Nvidia rates this game as “3D Vision Ready” and that is accurate for the most part. Upon initially starting the game, the intro movie and menu screens are in straight 2D as you would expect, and the game doesn’t begin to show any stereoscopic effects until gameplay begins. Once the fighting starts, however, the 3D effect is pretty nice.
The HUD elements, such as the life pair and super meter, are in 2D at screen depth. The characters themselves are set back a bit from that, and the backgrounds go a little further into the screen. While actually fighting, I did not notice any out-of-screen effects, but during the brief cut-scenes (for example before a fight or when you lose) there were some instances. Overall, I thought the 3D experience was comfortable, and while it wasn’t as breathtaking as some other titles I’ve played, it worked and definitely enhanced the gameplay.
One of the things I really liked is that while being a “3D Vision Ready” game, the developers did not lock the convergence controls like many other recent titles. This is great news, and I am sure the 3D gaming community will be happy Capcom decided to give users the freedom to customize the settings to their taste. At the same time, though, the game displays a number of anomalies that make me question the “3D Vision Ready” label. While the main action of the characters and all the GUI elements look great, I did notice a few issues with the backgrounds. For example, reflections on the water that are seen in at least three stages are oddly doubled between the eyes. This is not so bad as to make the game uncomfortable, but it’s a minor annoyance. There is also one stage with a blur effect on a plane engine, which is almost completely broken in 3D. I also noticed a few small things, mostly with special effects, but they weren’t huge problems.
I don’t think these issues break the game, but they do mar what would otherwise be a flawless execution. So in total, I think Capcom has delivered a capable 3D experience and gamers using the Nvidia solution will be happy to pick this title up.
Intel Core2Duo E8400 3.6GHz
Windows 7 64-bit
Zalman Trimon 22” Monitor
iZ3D 1.13 Release Candidate
The experience using the iZ3D driver is actually similar to Nvidia’s in a lot of ways, at least in terms of the 3D effect itself. GUI elements were naturally at screen depth, with the 3D characters just a bit behind them. Then the background would continue even further into the screen. In general, there was a nice look to the game and a decent range of depth. In fact, I think the range of depth was even greater than Nvidia’s, leading to an overall deeper 3D experience. I did not notice any out-of-screen effects
Most of the problems seen with Nvidia were not seen here. The water was rendered correctly and some of the special effects (like on the plane engine) looked fine. iZ3D was not without its share on issues, however.
Initially, there were a number anomalies that basically made the game unplayable. After tweaking some settings and creating a custom profile, the most serious offenders were put to bed. Probably the worst issue was that the shadows were oddly couple and clipped between each eye. This was very jarring and uncomfortable to watch. By going in the iZ3D settings and checking “Render shadows in mono” it solved the problem.
The issue was the results screen after a match was in a different angle and position in each eye. By using a custom profile this issue was also fixed. Motion blur also needed to be turned off in the game settings to avoid strange blurring on the cut-scenes.
Beyond that, there were some other effects I was not able to fix. For example, smoke effects would have a cut out silhouette of where the character used to be, which was very strange. Thankfully, only a few stages used these types of smoke effects, so it wasn’t a show-stopper. More noticeable were the cut-scenes before and after a match which were uncomfortable to watch and did not have a good effect at all. There are ways to tweak the settings to get the cut-scenes to look nice, but they made the game look bad. Using iZ3D’s hotkey features, it’s possible to have a few different settings and switch between them on-the-fly, but the game is too fast paced to make that practical. This was probably the most annoying issue since it happened on every stage, but it didn’t affect the actual gameplay. All-in-all, I still thought the game had decent support with iZ3D, and was still a much better viewing experience in stereoscopic 3D mode.
Intel Core2Duo E8400 3.6GHz
Windows 7 64-bit
Zalman Trimon 22” Monitor
TriDef Ignition 3.2.32
The TriDef Ignition drivers have a profile for the original SFIV game, but it works perfectly fine with the newer Super SFIV: Arcade Edition. After setting the correct profile and launching the game, I was surprised at the quality of the 3D. In fact, let me cut to the chase… the DDD driver had the best implementation hands-down. There were almost none of the anomalies seen with other drivers, and the 3D effect itself just seemed more impressive.
About the only thing I did notice was that the score card at the end of each match was oddly doubled (similar to the iZ3D driver before adding a custom profile). However this did not affect the gameplay at all, and was only a minor annoyance. Beyond this, I also noticed that some effects had been removed, specifically the water reflections on some levels. The game was otherwise problem free and looked great.
In most games, we recommend turning this off. However, with Super Street Fighter, the auto-focus during the cut-scenes and super moves worked well. This made those segments much easier to view without having to adjust any settings. While DDD was not a flawless implementation, it was still top notch and my favorite out of the three.
What sets the TriDef driver apart was the quality of the 3D effect itself. The background just seemed deeper, and the objects within it appeared more tangible somehow. Because of this, the experience was more immersive and realistic. It was almost to the point where I was expecting to reach into the monitor and pull objects out of the background. Well maybe not that last part, but it did look good.
Unfortunately, there were very few out-of-screen moments – probably because the auto-focus made sure to keep objects within the screen. This was fine because it only really impacted the cut-scenes and super moves anyway. All-in-all, a very impressive experience is provided by DDD with only a few minor issues.
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is a fine game to add to your stereoscopic collection. All three vendors were able to provide a decent level of support, with some better than others. Aside from a couple of anomalies, the 3D effect itself was very impressive, especially with the TriDef solution.
To make a ballpark comparison, I’d say that the DDD driver provided about twice the depth of Nvidia, while iZ3D was somewhere in-between. Of course, it is possible to adjust the stereo settings for better or worse effect, but this is what I found with what I consider the optimal settings for each driver. With that said, all drivers did provide an enjoyable experience and the game looks great in 3D anyway you slice it. Highly recommended.
One final remark about scoring: while my opinions about 3D performance between the drivers are subjective, the 3D scoring shown here is based on MTBS’ 3D Game Analyzer (M3GA). The analyzer takes a fixed and measured approach to stereoscopic 3D game compatibility and visual flexibility. It helps ensure that all games and drivers are tested fairly and with a common ground in visual expectation.
In the case of DDD, M3GA requires that auto-convergence is turned off, and acknowledges that certain graphics features are stripped away to make the game playable in 3D. This is why M3GA’s scoring is is somewhat different from how I would personally rank the driver results.
How Memorable Is This Game
Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
Stereoscopic Effectiveness DDD
Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
NVIDIA Overall Rating
DDD Overall Rating
iZ3D Overall Rating