The impressions post was getting way too long, so I've put my SSFIV complaints here.
I still think the lack of a real tutorial is
absolutely criminal in a game of this nature. These games are hard to learn even the basics on, and there is nothing in this game even telling you what the basics really are. Trials, just like last time, go directly to hard combos after about ten minutes with no explanation whatsoever. New players are still
being flung into the pool, and the pool is way too deep. Rather than go with simple strategy, they teach you combos that you won't be able to land because you don't know how to get in for the hit in the first place. "Buy the
strategy guide" or "go online" shouldn't be step one to learning the
Trial mode doesn't let you watch the combo you're supposed to perform before you do it, either. You're just supposed to figure it out yourself, and for some of these combos there's a major prerequisite or obscure, advanced technique that you're just not told about. It's kind of baffling that they didn't fix this, and it's also baffling that they didn't fix the controller config screen to the sensible model that every other fighting game uses.
It's great that SF4 is built with so much direct input from the hardcore community, but Capcom really should throw a little attention to the 99% who haven't been playing at high levels against other people for years. I'm not one of these people, mind you, I'm just saying what I see. This is still a gamer game, but even most gamers are often perplexed by or are oblivious to the inner workings of these games. Just like the last one, SSF4 doesn't reach for these people at all. How is the flowchart Ken supposed to know he should do anything other than Hard Punch Shoryukens all day? I think for all the talk about expanding the community for fighting games, the lack of any teaching whatsoever in the game itself is a tremendous missed opportunity.
Link combos are still ridiculously strict: when world-class champions like Wong and Daigo are still regularly flubbing their bread-and-butter combos in tourney situations-- when an effective defensive technique is to do Shoryuken motions while getting hit during a combo, in the likely case the other guy will screw up-- that means the system needs fixing. The system has not been fixed. This is unfortunate.
Everybody has a new ultra combo, and you have to choose one or the other before the fight. In a lot of cases, one of the Ultras is completely inferior: Ryu's Metsu Shoryuken has a spectacular animation but I don't think anybody's going to take it over the infinitely more useful Metsu Hadoken. Ultimately, the problem from SF3 rears its head and the other ultra combos are just never going to be used. Just sayin'!