The review for this title is to be considered a DLC review as it will cover the updated content only. Readers not familiar with Super Street Fighter IV are advised to search up some reviews of the full game first.
Released June 7, and available as standalone purchase for Xbox 360 and PS3 June 24th in America, and June 28th in Europe, with a PC release in sometimes in July, Super Street Figher IV Arcade Edition is the most recent, and according to Capcom the last update to the Street Fighter IV series.
Before I get started, I'll need to stress this once more, this review is for Arcade Edition only, not Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition as shortly available in stores. I will only cover updates from SSFIV to SSFIV:AE as updated by the online upgrades available on 360 and PS3.
Starting off with what everyone will care about and of course the main selling point of AE, the characters. There are four new combatants, but Arcade Edition has also thrown in a huge list of minor and major balance change to existing characters
Introducing the new characters:
What if Ryu shook Akuma's hand and embraced the fullest potential of his dark energies? He gets a much improved zoning game (as if it was bad before !?) with fireballs on almost instant recovery, some of Akuma's combo options, his Demon Super, and a couple new tricks of his own, is what happens. The only things that prevent E Ryu from being a straight upgrade to Ryu 2.0 is his lower stamina and stun resistance in line with Akuma, and slightly weaker pokes. Evil Ryu can also teleport like Akuma, but it is slightly weaker and more prone to punishment lowering its utility use.
Oni is a new character created for AE, a demon of pure evil. His fighting style resembles that of Akuma, but he also brings a few tricks of his own that make him a very offensive fighter. Most noteworthy are his air specials, with his air dashes that with some skill lets him control zoning, a demon super that can be used both on ground and in air making for some potentially nasty surprises, and finally his ultra fireball attack which is the only fireball ultra that can be executed in air. Add to the mix very damaging and fairly easily executed melee combos, a ground based special that can cross up (and be comboed into both ultras with the EX version), and you have Oni. To balance him, Oni has slightly lower stamina and stun than average, a surprisingly weak fireball game and a pretty poor focus attack.
Returning from the Street Fighter III alongside his twin brother Yang, Yun is an extremely offensive fighter. Yun is all about speed, offense and juggles. He has a number of mostly safe specials to use for building meter quickly, and his super further enhances his offensive play, letting him perform seemingly endless juggles. In line with his offensive nature Yun has very good normals, with strong pokes and useful target combos. His weakness is when he gets countered, Yun does not handle defence well on wakeup and when pressured. He also has fairly low stamina and stun resistance.
Yun's twin, Yang paces himself a bit more in combat and as such has better reversals and defense, and while he puts on pressure when given the breathing space, his main strength is his agility coupled with crossups, resets and mindgames with the opponent. His mantis slash move which behaves like Fei Long's Rekka allows him to close on the opponent safely, and he uses a crossup throw and easy combos into either ultras to deliver damage. Yang is not perfect either however and has a poor dash, below average stamina and stun and a bad focus attack with limited range.
I was initially sceptical to all four new characters, I have to admit and I still believe there were some much better options for new characters to bring into SFIV than the ones we got. That said, the ones we did get do bring some varied combat styles to the roster and they are despite what many would cry, well balanced. No, Yun&Yang are not horribly overpowered, they have glaring weaknesses that give them a lot of trouble, but just like in SSFIV there are matchup differences where certain characters will have an advantage over certain others, this is nothing new. And this comes from someone who has NOT changed mains to Yun! ;)
Other than the new characters there is nothing too impressive going on. There are a few multiplayer and replay updates that are very minor and do not in anyway justify a price tag, such as the ability to put a room name on your endless lobby (only endless, not ranked/tournament etc) These are basic functions that should have just been patched in, in fact I'm annoyed thinking about how Capcom has held this back probably for a very long time just to make Arcade Edition look beefier.
With the release of AE there are now two sets of ranks, one for SSFIV and one for the Arcade Edition. Swapping from AE to regular takes but a second, but much like you would expect from DLC's and expansions by now, you can not with AE play with someone without it without swapping back, so players without AE will not be able to combat any of the new characters.
One thing I was downright disappointed in is that nothing at all was done to improve network and online play. NAT 1 and 2 users will still experience problems hosting and sometimes joining online games, sadly.
Arcade Edition's four new characters are all fairly interesting and for the most part play well with the rest of the SSFIV roster. This alone makes the upgrade worthwhile for its fairly reasonable pricing, although the rest of the Arcade edition features should have been included as patches (long ago I might add).
One thing that deserves special mention is that the release of Arcade Edition marks the introduction of SSFIV to PC, finally! I personally can't wait to see if the game becomes as competitive on PC as it currently is and has been for some time on the consoles.
Final verdict for the Arcade Edition DLC:
+ 4 new characters
+ (not included in the score) Now on PC!
-Not compatible backwards with SSFIV without switching versions, current players are almost forced to buy AE to continue competing.
-Other than the new characters, the other selling points for Arcade Edition just look like a ripoff to make you pay for a patch.
- Yun and Yang are good additions, but I can't help but feel there were better choices for new or imported characters than Evil Ryu and Oni
- While new characters have intro and ending cinematics, none of the new characters have any dialogue in their rival battles, very half assed.
Edit: I feel the need to point out, my rating does not reflect my view on the complete product "SSFIV:AE", merely the extra content delivered through the DLC, which leaves a lot to be desired. SSFIV:AE as a product is despite some problems still one of the best fighter game options on the market currently.