Streets of Rage 4 – A classic back in full force

Streets of Rage 4

The iconic series Streets of Rage has got its iconic characters, Axel, Blaze, Adam, and other veterans, reunited to clean up the streets. With some brand-new moves and kick-ass tracks to take a listen, our heroes are ready to dish out beatdowns to a fledgling group of ill-advised criminals in full force.

No warriors left behind

In the past years, we’ve seen a resurgence of beat-em-up games through totally new IPs, ports of classic games, and even fully-fledged sequels in the likes of River City Girls. Streets of Rage is not the exception and a new entry in the legendary series is brought by the hands of Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games.

Classic characters like Axel and Blaze join new characters like Cherry in a game where past and future are met in the heat of battle.

Does the game mark a future for the series or is it too stuck on that past? Let’s find out.

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Unrivaled aesthetic

Right off the bat the art style makes the game shine among the crowd, the beautifully animated sprites with an art style that combines western comic look with a neon punk aesthetic makes the game a colorful trip that feels taken out of a 2000’s comic. Every punch, kick, and movement has an impact accompanied by a visual flair that doesn’t lose its charm even on long playing sessions.

A big surprise was how backgrounds and stages got better and more detailed the more you advance through that stages and how each stage is truly separated visually from each other while still maintaining a cohesive look and makes the world feel real and interesting.

The soundtrack features techno and rock tunes that fit the game’s atmosphere perfectly and could very well be considered absolute bangers, but that’s not the end of the story. If you so desire, the game allows using multiple retro style soundtracks that call back to the original games and its 20-year history, making up for a package that doesn’t disappoint no matter which style you prefer.

The graphics are definitely one of this game’s stronger features and show homage to the previous titles while standing on its own.

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As always, the gameplay is king

Despite the beat-em-up formula being old as video games themselves, Streets of Rage 4 doesn’t shy away from improving its mechanics. Punches, kicks, and grabs can lead to crazy and satisfying combos just as they did in the past games, but it takes a step further by differentiating each character from the rest very palpably. Different characters are built to be played differently and interact with each other in many creative ways more than in other games.

Each moveset feels different from the rest and with a roster of 17 characters, you’re given a flurry of fighters at your disposal that all feel unique and invites you to use them all. Make sure to unlock them; they’re really worth to get.

Other welcome additions are the toggling of friendly hits while playing Co-Op and how friendly damage can be healed through hitting enemies shortly after getting hit. Even with friendly hits on, it made the experience way better and makes for a good spin on the “trolling” side of playing Co-Op.

Local play allows up to 4 players and online play allows 2 players to play any stage they want, it even has a lobby system where you can look for other players that have your same progress on the story. Online play works smoothly and makes for a great experience, especially if you wanna play with friends.

There’s a huge enemy variety that is spread amongst the stages, and are balanced to put you in trouble; even on Normal difficulty, bosses feel challenging and different, and make for great ends on each stage.

The game features an 11 stage story, arcade mode, boss rush, and a battle mode so there’s plenty to do even after unlocking all characters and playing the story.

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Nothing comes without shortcomings

Streets of Rage 4 reaches near the point of perfection but is barred by some problems that come from its inspiration of past games in the series.

The biggest one is its level design: despite having great and varied enemies, the levels themselves lack any sort of exploration or intrigue in them. The art on them is great, but it’s just hallway after hallway of enemies without any semblance of diverging paths or varied stage structure that breaks the monotony of some of the levels.

The game lacks any sort of checkpoint system that allows the player to continue a level in any sort of way after losing all lives; other games have implemented checkpoints or being able to buy your way back into the battle by punishing your score or ranking. The length of each stage is perfect, but the lack of being able to come back after a bad streak makes starting over more annoying than encouraging.

Despite having great characters and an interesting story, the cutscenes between each stage feel empty and stale and break any semblance of immersion any may have in the story. The lack of voice acting in these scenes is the biggest reason why.

 

Streets of Rage 4 grabs an already successful formula and solidifies it to take a spot among the best games of the genre. It’s both unique while paying homage to the long story of the series, and makes for a fun and challenging game to play alone or with friends.

The few issues it has come more from the rest game evolving the formula and the other aspects being left behind like their past entries. They don’t make the game any less of a masterpiece but could’ve taken the game even further if fleshed out.

Highly Recommended

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Reviewed by ChitoWarlock on PS4. Game provided by DotEmu.

 

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