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Streets of Rage 4 (PC) Review

 
streets of rage 4 header image
streets of rage 4 header image
streets of rage 4 header image

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One & Switch
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer: ,
 
Final Score
8.5
8.5/ 10


User Rating
2 total ratings

 

We liked?


  • Beautiful visuals and soundtrack to match with bonus retro SoR 1 & 2 tunes too!
  • Faithful reproduction of the original titles look and feel
  • Some incredible highs when you chain moves and slap fools
  • Good selection of options to choose from ad longevity and replayability especially in co-op play

Not so much?


  • Frustrations held over from the old games / genre at times
  • Gameplay is repetitive and offers up nothing truly groundbreaking over other games in the genre
  • Do we still need nubile leather-clad, high heeled, whip-wielding dominatrixes, in our 2020 videogames?


Final Fiendish Findings?

A revitalised love letter to the genre and a cracking entry into the beloved franchise. A few niggles aside this looks, sounds and plays amazing.

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Posted April 29, 2020 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 
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here was a time when I craved that sweet hit of adrenaline that only an arcade side-scrolling beat-em-up could give you. Countless foes slapped, kicked, punched or thwacked on my relentless quest to ‘go right’ or sometimes ‘go left’. Endless classics long since gathering dust like Crude Dudes, TMNT, Kung-Fu Master (which I’ve just purchased a mint copy of for the NES!), Ninja Warriors, Captain Commando, Bad Dudes Vs Dragon Ninja, Renegade and the king, Final Fight….. Or maybe Cadillacs and Dinosaurs…. hmmm…

When these classics made the jump to the home console/computer I just ate them up… even the slightly dodgy ones like Red Heat on the Spectrum! One series I missed out on, due to my staunch ‘consoles are for babies’ level of misguided youthful immaturity, was Streets of Rage… An oversight I rectified in recent years as my (now possibly obsessive) retro game collection increased.

streets of rage 4 freddy mercury

WOW! Freddie Mercury got BUILT!

So, a genre that’s all but dead, aside from a few attempts to resurrect or co-opt it in some form or another (Mother Russia Bleeds, Dead Pixels 2, Castle Crashers, Double Dragon IV/Neon etc). A series that perhaps many outside of the old fans and general beat-em-up/retro gaming aficionados might not instantly recognise. Who on earth could and would take this on you say? Perhaps if I say Lizardcube, the team that also took on the impressive Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remaster back in 2017 with widely acclaimed success. Any initial backlash was short-lived once fans of the series heard this studio would be helming the project (just don’t mention the music is all!).

So a beloved franchise, an under-loved genre and a reviewer who is eager for some new side-scrolling action… this is gonna be fun!

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Straight off the thing that grabs you has to be the visual style used by LizardCube here. It’s bold, cartoony and looks rich. The phrase ‘stepped off the pages of a comic book’ is used often and, usually, incorrectly. Here though it looks exactly so. The framing of the stages, the pallets used all lend themselves to richly saturated comic book style. Animation is smooth, crisply defined and, thankfully, not too precious to interfere with the action on the screen. Lizardcube have taken great care to represent characters from the series in pixel-perfect updates. They’ve also managed to carry the overall tone of the earlier cames through to this new revised art style. The game offered up a mostly solid 60fps even in 4K on my PC (i5-9600k stock clocks, 32GB RAM & RTX2070) never really putting much strain on the system as it went about its business.

Building on the work done by Guard Crush Games (fight engine developers of Streets of Rage 4) for their 2015 PC release Streets of Fury EX, the fight system is instantly familiar to long term players of this style of game. Simple 8-direction movement, a punch, jump and special button are all in place and that’s all you’ll need to worry about if you choose the Legacy control option – but you’d really be missing out on some fun stuff! The default control scheme for SoR 4 offers up the three standard action but adds in a grab/throw button a rear-hit button to help with those pesky blighters that sneak up on you mid-combo. It also allows you to define the Star Move button – a massive damage dealing special attack you can unleash using up collectable stars placed sparingly around the stages.

Streets of Rage 4 Stage Map

Streets of Rage 4 Stage Map

This new control scheme really allows you to chain some impressive moves together to try and maintain the hit-combo. Lay into a bunch of punks, grab one, throw him into a cluster of suit-wearing toughs knocking them off their feet whilst you grab a police baton from the floor, turn, throw it at an approaching high kicking tough-girl knocker her down, catch the baton mid-air as it rebounds from her and then use it to batter an unsuspecting bald chap in sunnies! It’s a real ‘hell yeah video games a good!’ moment and it happens over and over again. This is a real videogamy video game and it’s not sorry about that!

The game offers varying difficulty settings from Easy right up to the insanely punishing Mania. Normal would suffice for most allowing you to make steady progress through the games 12 stages without too much trouble until some of the later stages. It has to be said that a few of the enemy types and bosses do use a few cheap tricks to try and take you down, but that’s not out of character for the genre.

Catch!

Catch!

With each stage taking roughly 8 – 12 minutes depending on your skills, a few hidden items (stars and money) you’re likely to make it through the entire game in roughly 2’ish hours which is in keeping with the genre and the previous titles in the series. There are multiple characters to unlock and progress with though and each offers a slightly different fight style and move set – although it’s much-of-a-muchness when it comes down to it. Playing through with a friend (either physically, online, or using the Steam remote coach co-op option) adds to the fun and it’s a great title to just chill out with and chat – not a bad thing in these current circumstances! There’s also online play allowing you to take each of the games modes (Arcade, Stage Select, Story, Boss Rush) online too. Each of these really adds to the longevity of the game, increasing the replayability greatly.  Add to this the beloved Battle Mode returns and you can have some serious brawling fun.

And finally to the soundtrack – I’m not going to get bogged down in the minutia of the internet poop-slinging contest over long time series composer Yuzo Koshiro not initially being onboard for the project. Rest assured that he was involved, producing new tunes, and the soundtrack from SoR and SoR 2 are represented in the game via a ‘Retro’ toggle in the sound menu allowing you to change from the new tracks made by Olivier Deriviere to the ones from the old games. All the music is fabulous with Deriviere riffing from the originals and making some glorious tracks of his own. With Boss encounters rocking new compositions from other guest composers too Streets of Rage 4 is a feast for the eyes and ears no matter how you approach it.

streets of rage 4 bridge leather punch

There are, inevitably, a few niggles here and there and most are levelled at the genre and the troupes it abides by. I’ve previously mentioned the game being a little unfair at times (cheap attack or large splash damage areas) or stacking the deck a little for Boss encounters – again not unheard of in these titles and rooted in their arcade DNA. Some of the character depictions are a little uncomfortable and stereotypical, but again these are troupes of the genre… doesn’t mean I have to enjoy/approve of hitting leather whip carrying ladies though does it? These are minor quibbles, levelled at the genre and the era it was born from more than a direct criticism of Streets of Rage 4 – it’s just using the material that went before it.

streets of rage 4 shit kicker

Trying to get the loo door open these days is an art form!

Final Thoughts

So I started this review reminiscing and saying this should be fun… And fun is exactly how I would go about describing Streets of Rage 4. It’s just such great fun. It’s not going to resurrect a genre. It’s not doing anything incredibly new or daring, but it IS delivering exactly what you wanted from this type of game. It looks incredible, sounds fantastic, plays smoothly and is, for the most part, fair and fun to play.

As a relatively new convert to the series (it is 29 years old after all!), I’m pleased. As a lover of this genre, I am pleased. I can’t really offer any greater praise than 26 years after Streets of Rage 3, this title fits perfectly into the series knocking SoR 1 and 3 down my personal preference order (SoR 2, SoR 4, SoR 1, SoR 3 if you’re interested).

Grab it today, scroll right, slap stuff and enjoy yourself!

 

The product under review was provided by the creator, manufacturer, publisher or their PR representative free of charge and without caveat. Please see our site review policy for more information.

Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.