So you want to buy a fighting game, huh?

With the year winding down, less and less fighting game titles are hitting the market.  After Tatsunoko vs Capcom rolls out onto the Wii, there won't be any new games coming out for some time (at least, not to my knowledge).  Unless of course, someone decides to make an announcement…but that's not too likely, since the average turn around time for fighters runs about 2 years or more (it took 10 years for Street Fighter 4 to come out).

So what games are popular on the tournament scene?  What games are people playing?  Which game holds the most bang for your buck?

Three heavy hitters have already made their way onto the scene: Street Fighter IV, BlazBlue, and King of Fighters XII.  Lets take an in-depth look at what each game offers — the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Street Fighter IV

Perhaps the game with the most hype of all time, Street Fighter has already made huge waves with the tourney scene drawing in never-before-seen numbers than ever before.  At Evolution 2009, Street Fighter IV alone drew in over 1,000 contenders, solidifying it's place as the most popular fighting game.  The online play isn't the greatest, but its an excellent starting point for competition if you don't have a whole lot of friends.

There's alot of support out there if you're interested in improving your game.  Forums, podcasts, and tons upon tons of videos are just a handful of things you can do to make the most out of the Street Fighter experience.  Not to mention it's also the most popular game on the tournament scene, guaranteeing it's place in future events.

The game itself also offers a load of modes and options, however it should be noted that while you don't get access to the DLC at the start (nor access to the entire cast), you'll be spending quite a bit of time unlocking content.  It's a bit time consuming, compared to BlazBlue and King of Fighters XII.

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

While the Guilty Gear series might not be around anymore, ArcSys had the nifty idea to revive the series by getting rid of the old one…entirely.  And while BlazBlue is an excellent starting point, it lacks one of the few things most fighters have plenty of: characters.  Sitting at just 12 characters, BlazBlue has the smallest roster of any fighting game — which is odd for a game in this age.  Perhaps because of that, the balance in that game is skewed; the three top characters pretty much wipe the floor with the rest of the cast.

However, the game really does shine when it comes to the multiple modes it offers.  The story is astonishingly deep…I've heard stories about how the arcade mode's plot pales in comparison to what the story mode offers.  There's enough material to write a decade's worth of fanfics.

BlazBlue is fast on the heels of Street Fighter IV in the tournament scene.  Even if you can't make it out to one, the online play is the best around, falling only behind Street Fighter II: HD Remix.  Ironically.

King of Fighters XII

Past incarnations of KoF have always sported recycled sprites and a humongous roster — not anymore.  While KoF looks gorgeous to behold, it also lacks alot of things the old school spirit had.  If you're looking for a bare bones fighter with no story and even less content, this is your game.  Oh and, if you like playing alone, this game is also for you. 

The online mode absolutely sucks.

The majority of connections will always be yellow…or red.  A yellow connection is playable, but the lag interferes so much, it's almost unplayable.  And if you find that lucky blue signal, count your blessings because you'll never get the chance to play them.  There's a bug at the load screen which doesn't allow you to play them.  Don't worry though, Ignition has put forward a list of complaints toward SNK Playmore, but it's anyone's guess how much or how quick they'll fix all the problems the community has put forth.

I mentioned that BlazBlue had a tiny roster — KoF has more, but compared to KoF 2002 Ultimate Match, it's only a fraction of the size.  The gameplay is truly great; no longer does it have the feel of a 90's game with clunky moves.  The fighting is fast, furious, and fun.  It's a great fighter, but it's a horrible game.

So there you have it — a quick, blow-by-blow run through of the three hottest fighters out there right now.  Until Tekken 6, these will be the main attractions at tournaments around the country.  Old school games will always have a place, but for the moment these are the games you want to get into, if you're serious about fighters.

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August 2009
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