Tag Archives: Downloadable games

The Evergreen Street Fighter II


Speaking as a fan of Street Fighter III, which is a beautiful, deep, competitive game that didn’t receive nearly the attention that it deserves, it really has nothing on its predecessor. A rough calculation tells me that I’ve already bought Street Fighter II three times this decade, and playing the new HD Remix has really reminded me of just how brilliant this game is.

Besides its better, more iconic characters that have gone on to become archetypes in themselves, Street Fighter II is a game that just never seems to age at all, no matter how many times I play it, and that amazes me every time I return. The lick of paint for the latest release obviously helps, but looking beyond graphics it’s as much fun today as it ever was. Everyone must have at least some experience with this game, and you only have to play for a little while to feel at home again, even if you haven’t played since it came out, which is pushing two decades ago. It’s impossible to have ‘just one more game’, especially now that we have a version that works extremely well online.

What’s impressed me more than anything, though, is how playing online has shown just how deep a game it is, even compared to one that is so deliberately tough to master as its sequel. People know every in and out of every character and move, and some of the high-level players you’ll meet online can completely humble you, switching styles as they go and thrashing you, even with characters that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Even after all these years I can’t work out how to effectively play as a ‘charge’ character like Guile, and yet I can go online and be routinely humiliated by one of them. Such is life…

It seems like HD Remix has been timed to hype up a certain other fighting game due in February, and if that was indeed one of its purposes it’s worked with me. The previews are coming out and suggesting that the talk about Street Fighter IV going back to the deep yet accessible roots of Street Fighter II, appealing in the process to both the hardcore and casual fans – that’s ‘casual’ in the old sense, not the ‘plays Imagine Party Babyz’ kind – may actually be true. While that ‘back to basics’ marketing trick has lost its power not to make me suspicious after its repeated use on Sonic games, there just isn’t a better foundation for a fighting game than this.

Because of this, no matter how good SFIV ends up being, it won’t be its immediate predecessor that it’s held up against. Aiming to succeed Street Fighter II is ambitious, given that even the best new fighting games struggle to be played for three years, let alone seventeen, but again, this is the sheet to crib from. I hope it succeeds, and I bought an arcade stick as evidence of my faith – okay, so HD Remix had something to do with it as well – but I have my suspicions as to which Street Fighter I’ll still be buying with each new generation when 2025 rolls around.

WipEout HD

You can’t deny that Sony has been worlds ahead of Microsoft and Nintendo in terms of digitally distributing its games this gen. Not only does PSN let me buy stuff in real money – incidentally, that makes me more likely to make an impulse purchase than one that requires me to work out how much I’m actually paying – it’s also let me download ‘proper’, fully featured games. Warhawk, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, Siren: Blood Curse, Burnout Paradise, and now WipEout HD – all impossible with Microsoft’s backwards size limit for downloadable games and, for many reasons, impossible on the Wii.

© MrTroubleMaker

Mini-rant aside, WipEout HD is just the kind of thing that we should be getting as downloads. It’s relatively slim on content with only a few tracks from the PSP versions, but it’s 60fps at 1080p (almost), tight and addictive to play, and it’s only £11.99. I defended the pricing of Braid when I posted about it, and while I appreciate that WipEout is less of a commercial risk than a self-funded indie project, this does kind of make it look bad.

WipEout’s been something of a fringe series for a while now, having only two PSP games and a poorly received PS2 iteration since the series’ glory days on the PS1, with most fans still considering WipEout 2097 – the American title, WipEout XL, sounds too much like washing powder for me – to be the high point. It’s a shame because it was one of the titles largely credited with being responsible for the establishment of the PlayStation, and, quite remarkably, it’s managed to remain both cool and futuristic over a decade later. The design work on show here was so far ahead of its time that real life hasn’t managed to catch up yet. That’s pretty much this series and Blade Runner that can boast that. Continue reading WipEout HD

Warhawk is the Best Game on the PS3

The above is a little-known fact, kept secret by a cabal of people who prefer to play good but overrated six-hour romps or watch their games more than they play. Some even say Resistance holds that title, but they’re simply letting us on to the ruse by saying something patently absurd.


I don’t know what it is that got me playing Warhawk so much – and I started playing long before the recent 1.5 patch added trophies, before you suggest that I’m interested in anything other than the gameplay – but it really is fantastic. It reminds me of Battlefield 1942 at its peak, even, unfortunately, down to the hit-and-miss infantry combat. But even if running around on foot with most of the weapons is generally as effective as hitting a tank with a damp flannel, when you’re in said tank or flying around the map in one of the titular aircraft it’s hard to find fault.

It’s now been out for over a year and is still getting significant content and balance patches to add everything from new skins to whole new modes, as well as three ‘booster packs’. People pretend not to notice that the boosters are £3.99 for one map and vehicle, but it’s only because the underlying game is so strong that they daren’t speak out, lest the free stuff go away. Continue reading Warhawk is the Best Game on the PS3

Rez HD

In case you didn’t know, Rez HD is out on Xbox Live Arcade now for 800 points. It’s basically the same game as the Dreamcast and PS2 versions, but with HD graphics, 5.1 sound and all the expected online leaderboards gubbins. Buy it if you haven’t already.

Yesterday’s download was the first time I’ve played the game in a couple of years – pretty much since I bought a bargain copy in Japan in 2005 – and it’s even more of a trippy assault on the senses than it was then. If you have an HDTV and a 5.1 system I consider it to be a must-buy, in a similar way to how Geometry Wars became an unlikely early poster child for HD gaming. I’m so glad that stuff like this is getting a new lease of life in downloadable form, without the limited print runs that marred its retail performance on release.

Ignoring the inexplicable oversight to make the game default to stereo sound (go into the settings and set it to 5.1 if you haven’t), essentially turning off one of the game’s main selling points, I spent a couple of hours playing the first couple of stages. It’s the ultimate chillout game – even against similar ideas like flOw or Electroplankton – that you can just sit back with and only worry about a stick and a couple of buttons while it plays some great music for you. I love it, and consequently was listening to the Rez soundtrack at work for most of the day today.

Given that Rez HD also supports using controllers as up to three trance vibrators, much to the presumable delight of Jane Pinckard, unless you’re desperate to have the game on your shelf as part of the collection there’s no reason to bother with the disc-based editions. This one costs £6.80 – that’s SIX POUNDS EIGHTY PENCE, or roughly 1/7th of the recent going price for a Dreamcast copy on eBay – and even has the original 4:3 standard definition version in there for the luddites. Just try to make an excuse not to buy it.


These are unusual times. I’ve found a PS3 game to play and we’ve got a proper game that’s being digitally distributed. ‘Proper’ meaning not a touched up classic and not a £5 twin-stick shooter. It’s something new to console gaming and I really like it – Sony’s taken what could easily have been the next Shadowrun and done it right, making what’s probably my favourite PS3 game yet.

The Warhawk concept has been reinvented as a multiplayer-only Battlefield clone which, to be fair, is the game you want to copy if you’re making a multiplayer war game. And like Battlefield, it suffers from fairly average infantry and ground combat mechanics that are entirely forgiveable in light of some superlative aerial combat. While limiting yourself to the dogfight servers means missing out on certain dimensions of the gameplay, it’s the best way to guarantee a good game without the risk of being left behind without even a wheeled vehicle to carry you into the fray.

I inevitably gravitated towards flying the titular aircraft with sticks (I make no secret of my dislike of the ‘waggle’ fad), a setup which gives one stick to traditional flight and the other to the necessary aerobatics that make dodging and weaving between rock formations quick and intuitive. It never fails to be exciting when you have 16 wingmen flying with you towards the inevitable chaos of missiles and flak that await in the middle.

Warhawk isn’t particularly fully-featured and seems to have constant issues with connections and stats which should really be ironed out by now, but Sony has gone about it in the right way by making it £20 (or £40 on disc with a Bluetooth headset). To make the Shadowrun comparison again, that was also light on content but sold at retail for £50, and look how that turned out.

If this is a way to sidestep crippling development costs while still giving us proper next-gen games, I’m all for it. Of course I still want my big budget BioShocks and blockbusting Halos, but we can’t afford to spend £50 on every game that comes along.