Samurai Shodown IV review by Corbie
|Graphics: 9.5||Fun: 9.5||Sound: 9.0||Gameplay: 9.5||Overall: 9.0|
When I first read that SNK had a different development team working on Samurai Shodown 3, I was skeptical to say the least. And I was right to be so. Being a huge fan of Samurai Shodown 1 and 2, I couldn't wait to get my hands on SS3. The only problem was I didn't care for it much at all. It was just too different from the first 2 SS games. It just didn't have that magic the first two games had. So when Samurai Shodown 4 was released, I passed on it. Mainly because all the reviews I was reading so heavily compared it to SS3. But when I'm wrong, I admit it. And this time I was very wrong to dismiss Samurai Shodown 4 without even giving it a fair shot. Because the magic is back folks. In a big way! Samurai Shodown 4 has all the things that made the first 2 games so good, coupled with a new and improved fighting engine that adds great depth to the game. And it also marks the return of a few of our old favorite SS characters, although I was hoping to see Sieger return. Oh well you can't have everything. But what you do get with Samurai Shodown 4 is one extremely solid fighter.
For fans of the first two SS games, you should know that the fighting engine in SS4 is very different from SS1 and SS2. It plays and feels a lot like a combination of The Last Blade and Garou: MOTW. It's got a great combo system, but at the same time it sports a very up-tempo fighting style much like the one found in Garou. You really have to play it to truly appreciate how well it works within the game. Just try to imagine playing SS3, only with the controls much more crisp and responsive. As I said above I was very pleasantly surprised with this game. Basically everything that needed to be fixed in SS3 was. And SS4 turned out to be one of the best playing fighters even coming close to rivaling The Last Blade series, although it's not quite as deep. Overall the gameplay is the best in the series.
To put it simply, the graphics in this game are some of the best I have seen on the Neo Geo. My only real complaint with the first two SS games was that some of the backgrounds just looked a bit too blocky for my tastes. Especially when the camera zoomed out. But all the backgrounds in SS4 look great, whether zoomed in or out, either one. I find it fun to play the original Samurai Shodown and then pop in Samurai Shodown 4 just to see how far the Neo Geo has come in the graphics department over the past few years. SNK just seems to keep squeezing more and more graphic power out of their old 16-bitter as the years move on. And they deserve a lot of credit with SS4. It looks amazing. And it might just be me, but the characters even look more detailed in this game. Overall it's on par with even some of the newer Neo fighters.
The sound and music in SS4 is really good. Even the voice that introduces the fighters and begins the match sounds much better than in previous SS games. One of the things about the background music that I really liked in this game was the fact that they were each very fitting of the scene and weren't so loud that they covered up the background noises and combat sounds. Some of the tunes sound very reminiscent of SS 1 and 2 and others sound completely original and more modern sounding. It's nice to see some real attention to the music and sound fx in a fighting game for a change. Very well done.
The first time I played this game, the first thing that I noticed was how much fun it really was to play. The team that worked on SS3 had the right idea with where they wanted to take the game, they just didn't pull it off too well. But it seems they quickly fixed that problem with SS4 and it shows in just about every aspect of the game. With tons of moves and a much deeper fighting system, this game has replay value written all over it. And for fans of the blood in fighting games, you get a real treat watching the blood of your foe spray all over you when you finish them off. I'm surprised the censors weren't all over this one. But it's just one of the many things that make this game so much fun to play.
I gave this game a 9 instead of a 9.5 simply because while this game is a lot of fun to play, and is the best in the Samurai Shodown series, it's still not quite as good as The Last Blade 2. The team responsible for this game took the SS series to new heights and added a very playable combat system to the mix and should be very proud of this game. If you like The Last Blade series then you should love this game. It's what we've come to expect with newer SNK fighters. However I do warn those of you who are big fans of SS1 and SS2 that this game is very different in look and feel to those previous games and SS4 might rub you the wrong way if you are expecting it to look and play like those first 2 games. But it was the logical progression of the series, and trust me ,this is a great game. So whether you like the SS series or not you should at least give this game a try. I'm certainly glad I finally did. It's nice to have a surprise like this every once in a while.
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