There are a lot of advantages of using an existing franchise, but one of the biggest disadvantages is high expectations. With Street of Rage being one of the most notable beat ‘em up games to ever exist, Streets of Rage 4 has particularly big shoes to fill at a time when the genre has been rather stagnating. Still, with some hope to bring new things to the table, a fresh coat of paint, and modern features, will it do the franchise justice or get crushed under the legacy? Here’s our Streets of Rage 4 Review.
Streets of Rage 4 takes place 10 years after defeating and ultimately killing Mr. X in Streets of Rage 3. This time his twins, Mr. and Ms. Y, are trying to take things over by playing music take can take control of someone’s mind. Given these high stakes, it falls on the established team to take to the streets and defeat this new threat.
Needless to say, Streets of Rage 4 might have a story that progresses and there is a bit more focus on it this time but this is a franchise that is completely dominated by experience. This is also something Streets of Rage 4 handles extremely well.
There are two things fans should notice right off the bat. There are a lot of familiar elements and it’s surprisingly difficult. Whether you’re a big fan of the series or not, you can tell a lot of love went into this experience. Almost every notable enemy from the franchisee appears in some capacity and acts in a way reminiscent of their original counterpart. So much so that returning fans will know some of the tricks but don’t think this means Streets of Rage 4 is a shameless nostalgia grab.
Despite a lot of returning enemies and mechanics, the AI is smarter than you might think and combat is deeper than you’d expect for a beat ‘em up game. More often than not, even on normal, the AI attempts to bait you into making mistakes. That isn’t to say there aren’t cheap mechanics, trust me, there are, but the AI will wait for you to make a mistake or attempt to get around you and punish you. It’s so prevalent that you might not lose but don’t expect high marks on your first attempt.
What really stands out isn’t the AI or attention to detail, as much as the surprising depth for a game that has like 12 attacks per character. Above all your goal isn’t to beat enemies as much as maintain your combos or be smart about your attacks. For instance, among the returning weapons is a pipe, which can be thrown at enemies. However, if you’re close enough to the target, you can actually grab the pipe in mid-air and then continue your attacks. This is a great tactic if you want to keep enemies back or finish off one enemy before attacking another or simply add some style to your moves. Also, depending on your timing and position, a simple four-hit combo can easily become seven or even nine if you actually plan your attacks correctly.
This will likely take some practice, both to learn enemy patterns and your moves but once you get it down its not just fun to play, it’s actually enjoyable to watch. Depending on your skill, it also makes some of the more overwhelming difficulties and experiences a lot more manageable. Assuming you can plan multiple moves ahead and don’t mind a frightening number of enemies to deal with.
Despite Streets of Rage 4 doing a lot of things right, it isn’t particularly long. The 12 levels can be beaten in about two hours, less if you rush forward and maybe three if you aren’t the most skilled player around, leaving higher difficulties, additional characters, online leaderboards and rush modes to fill your time. Thankfully, characters are diverse enough to make the experience different but it’s important to understand this is a more traditional arcade experience where most of your runs will be more about the score than alternate paths and new challenges.
Streets of Rage 4 Review – Verdict
Not only does Streets of Rage 4 live up to the franchise’s legacy, but it also manages to be different enough to stand out in this genre. This is one game where you won’t get far simply mashing punch and you need to make bold plays and smart combos if you want to succeed. Thankfully, the reward is high and there is a fair number of ways to try to be the best warrior you can be, even if most of the experience will be score runs. So, if you’re looking for a good modern beat ‘em up game, there really isn’t many things better than Streets of Rage 4.
[Editor’s Note: Streets of Rage 4 were reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]