Review: Street Fighter IV Championship Mode
Late last month, Capcom released a new “Championship Mode” for Street Fighter IV, making the expansion pack available as free downloadable content (DLC). We had already been enjoying the awesome new fighting game for a couple of months, so I guess it was time to give the brawler a bit of an update.
Since the expansion pack was absolutely free, I was quick to download the new Street Fighter IV Championship Mode expansion pack. While it includes the ability to record replays of your matches and track your moves, the real draw is the new championship mode for peer-to-peer online battles. The old Player Match was a casual way to play some Street Fighter IV with buddies on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Ranked Match let you earn battle points based on your wins and losses. The problem with both of these scenarios is that you were oftentimes matched with someone who had a very different skill level than you. Championship Mode alleviates that.
You are given a ranking based on how you perform within Championship Mode and then you are matched up accordingly with people who have a similar rank. Everyone starts out in the “G3″ section of the tournaments, representing the lowest tier of players. Within this tier, there are a series of grades, ranging for E to A. You start out as a G3-E player and, after you accumulate enough grade points, you can upgrade to G3-D, G3-C, and so on. After you conquer G3, you can move on to the G2 tier.
The interesting thing is that this is not on a match-to-match basis. With Street Fighter IV’s Championship Mode, points are distributed through a series of mini-tournaments. Each tourney starts out with eight players in a single-elimination configuration. In this way, you must win three consecutive matches to win the tournament. You earn championship points (CP) based on how well you win your matches and then you are given a certain number of grade points (GP) at the end of the tourney, based on the number of CP you earned. It sounds more complicated than it really is.
G3 players will only get matched up against other G3 players, and they will usually be paired up based on their grade as well. You may have the occasional G3-E vs G3-A, but those are surprisingly rare.
The other major feature added in Street Fighter IV Championship Mode is the “blind” character selection screen. You cannot see the character that your opponent is selecting or vice versa. This fixes the problem of players who wait it out and always select “counters” in their matches.
Overall, I’m very pleased with what Championship Mode brings to the Street Fighter IV table and, really, you can’t beat the price of free.