If you're a fan of the series that's synonymous with the term 'beat-'em-up', you'll have been warming up you fireball-shooting thumbs since Capcom confirmed another run. And boy was it worth the wait.
For those of you that never left the scene, it's finally time to put down Street Fighter III: Third Strike and say goodbye to 2D sprites. Capcom believes this is the best Street Fighter game it's ever made and we're inclined to agree.
From the moment you turn the game on and sit through the arty CGI intro, to the moment you chuck your first punch and see the game's incredible visuals, you can feel the amount love poured into making this game.
Brightly lit with vivid colours, the environments look amazing, while the character models are as expressive as they are detailed. Faces express all the anger behind every punch thrown as well as being on the receiving end. Lips curl and eyes pop out as giant balls of plasma and killer uppercuts shatter bones.
This is traditional Street Fighter. It may have incredible looks, but under that hides Capcom's core gameplay.
A lot of games are criticised for being too similar to their predecessors, but in Street Fighter IV's case its retro style is exactly what you want.
Core gameplay has been streamlined back to how it used to be in SFII. It does away with the layers of extra guff that had been added through the years, meaning no parries, jugglers or any of that madness.
This isn't just a throwback to the old days, but part of an effort to open up Street Fighter to a broader audience. It has, after all, been made so increasingly complex that only seasoned players could actually get to grips the more recent editions.
So this is easy for all to play, right? Not entirely. Those of us who've pulled off Shoryukens and understand what 'quarter-circle-forwards-light-punch' mean needn't worry.
If, on the other hand, you've spent your years absorbed in more modern-age 3D fighters like Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur or Tekken, even the "simplicities" of SFIV can, these days, be comparatively daunting and complicated for total beginners.
Even if you are reasonably proficient at doing a fireball with Ryu, the game's so-called Normal mode is nails. You'll want to get better, which calls for some training.
Trouble is the Training mode doesn't explain things very well. A Trial mode is the nearest you get to in-game help, asking you to perform a series of moves with the button combinations shown on screen.
But as it moves from single-button moves to performing quick, complex, combo's, the game only gives you the buttons required to pull it off, with no explanation or demonstration as to the technique or timing needed.
Take that as you will - a criticism if you're new to the series (because you're going to struggle) or a compliment if you're a big fan because, to you, this is the ultimate skill-based fighter and you don't need help.
The requirement of multi-button sequences and precise, split-second timing makes it tough for total newbies to get anything out of SF IV. Not like DOA or Soul Calibur, in which double-tapping a direction and hammering some kick-punch combos can garner immediately satisfying (if a little fluky) results.
Still, SFIV has more than it's share of hidden complexities that the more hardcore of you will spend the next six months and beyond trying to master.
Focus Attacks are one of the most significant additions. Hit both medium punch and kick buttons at the same time and your character enters a defensive stance (the longer you hold the buttons the longer the stance is held). In this stance your character can absorb a single blow without taking any damage.