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Street Fighter IV Championship Mode Impressions

The Championship Mode Update for SFIV was released yesterday night about 5PM Philippine Time. It was active early on for PSN; while Xbox Live users could get it at the same time as Playstation 3 owners, they could only use the update some time late in the evening. I've played a bit of this new mode and I am impressed by the effort Capcom put into it. I like how it doesn't deduct points when you're starting out and you lose to other players of the same rank. I do know that point deductions occur some time later in higher levels of play.

That said, the competition on Championship at this time is quite fierce, perhaps because the players in the lower tiers are just starting to climb up. That means low tier and high tier players are mixed all in level 3-E. So if you're planning to play the new mode, be ready to lose a lot....I sure did.

I do like how they give the matches a 'tournament' feel. Essentially this is just a different way of implementing ranked matches---a better way. Every time you win and lose, you also get stats on who you beat and who beat you, by checking the Player Records submenu. You can also watch replays via the leaderboards. It seems replays are only allowed for players who make it to the final round of a championship tournament. I thought this was unfortunate, considering occasionally I play on Player Match and sometimes I get a memorable match or two in that mode. There's no way to save replays in modes outside of Championship....and you can only save a replay if you win a tournament. That's just too bad. What if you had a good match locally/offline with a bunch of friends over? The ability to save replays would be quite useful. It's unfortunate that you can't save your own replays.

That said, one benefit from the replay system is that you get to watch high definition, high quality replays from great players around the world. I learned a lot just downloading replays off the leaderboard. It's far more useful than just reading a wiki guide online on how to play SF, or perusing the forums of Shoryuken.com. And seeing very skilled players is really entertaining. SFIV isn't in arcades here, so the ability to playback replays from top players is very useful, and educational.

It may not be perfect (particularly with the replay mode implementation) but this update gets a lot of things right. Good job Capcom.

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