07/05/2020

๐Ÿคœ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿค› Streets Of Rage 4 | PS4 | Review | "So, Lizardcube…Landstalker next?" ๐Ÿคœ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿค› @lizardcube #SOR4 #IndieGames #GameDev

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Sega’s iconic brawler series Streets Of Rage, which has been dormant for over a quarter of a century has finally hit the digital shelves and everything you’ve read is true, this is one of, if not THE best example of this much-loved genre.

Like many of you, I played the Streets of Rage series whilst growing up, mostly the second in the series but I do have fond memories of the first game…and I do own the third. Sega’s answer to Capcom’s Final Fight (and various other titles in the genre) was only released on home consoles and immediately players around the globe fell in love. Known as Bare Knuckle in Japan, the series was known for soundtracks that hit as hard as the gameplay. Whoever was your character of choice, you’d soon be smashing your way through foes to take down the dastardly Mr X through the rage-filled streets of the city.

With such love for the series previous iterations – even the third, in some cases – how would Lizardcube’s fourth instalment hold up? The answer is, astonishingly well. 
This game pushes the series forwards not by reinventing or re-imagining but by amplifying the best aspects of the original, adding new twists and removing the more subtly, irritating moments that lasted through the series (I look at YOU enemies wandering off-screen!) and I applaud every design decision that they have made in this game which results in it being a far deeper, playable and re-playable experience than the originals could have ever hoped to have been considering, the limitations of the hardware at the time.
Visually, the game is a far brighter and more atmospheric beast than in prior releases, an unbelievably smooth 60fps rolls across all systems and there is an in-game menu for those that really want to capture the nostalgic vibes with various filters and pixelation options available as well as the ability to alter in-game bloom and the like. Truthfully though, the game looks so good that I drank in the crispness of the visuals and didn’t feel the need to adjust them in any way.
The gameplay is so solid here. With a cast of playable characters, enemies and cameos that will make fans of the original series feel right at home without being so locked in its own (admittedly light) lore that newcomers would be baffled. Every connected punch and throw teems with a sense of righteous connection. 
The new combo-juggling system and ability to catch thrown weapons is a nice touch and so well-implemented that you can’t help but smile as you do it, again and again, …ah yes…again and again, the question of repetition that the genre admittedly has suffered from. 
The wonderful Streets of Red: Devil Deluxe (by Secret Base) got around this by utilising rogue-lite gameplay but how does Streets of Rage 4 address it? By being a game that rewards you for getting better. 

There are various unlockables, difficulty modes and secrets scattered throughout the game but the real weapon here is the co-operative modes and sheer playability. With local play allowing up to four characters and online play capped at two, it opens itself up to be played over and over purely for the delight of playing it. I personally have a group of friends who are already on their third playthroughs and are already planning post-lockdown sessions for four of us to head through the game on mania difficulty yet again.
The music, as you’d expect, is phenomenal and drives your energy levels up as you make your way through Wood Oak City (there’s also the neat ability to switch back to the retro soundtracks, instantly making yet another playthrough worthwhile) and the game caters for a lot of skill levels, with extra lives being made available or a division of your score to even things out, very cool for newcomers to this sleeping giant of a genre.
Up until Streets of Rage 4, my favourite modern brawler was Mother Russia Bleeds (an amazingly visceral game that I have also played through multiple times) but the quality on show here from Lizardcube goes beyond my expectations for what this could have been. 
I’ve seen some people expressing dissatisfaction that this wasn’t a fully 3D remake using ultra-modern filmic technology to bring flashy lifelike, visuals to the fore, adding an extra dimension to the series….but we’ve all played Fighting Force haven’t we?*

Lizardcube have given us arguably the best side-scrolling brawler of all time and even better, it carries on the baton of a well-loved franchise, tweaking and perfecting the formula with a clear reverence for its roots. 
Unless this genre just isn’t for you, there really is no reason to not be playing this right now.
So, Lizardcube…Landstalker next?

*I did, a few months ago and an already mediocre game has aged like bruised fruit.
❄️ RATING: ICE ICE COOL ❄️

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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