I finally got a chance to check out Street Fighter IV on the Xbox 360 today. More importantly, though, I got to the booth early enough to play a match as both Akuma and Sakura. I've had plenty of time to play Street Fighter IV both in arcades and at shows, but I'm still blown away with the game's seamless blending of 2D and 3D in an aesthetic that polishes the look of characters I've grown so accustomed to.
I'm typically a Ryu or Ken when I play SF, but Akuma is close enough to their move set that I've played around with him over the years as well. This new Akuma maintains the tattered look of previous versions of the character delivering relatively fast, relatively powerful blasts as he hops around the screen. His moves seem to have remain unchanged, which makes him a great middle option for those of us who tend to cycle between Ken and Ryu when they play.
I've never been a fan of Sakura in the past, but that's certainly going to change. Ignoring the pleated-skirt physics built into her character design which seem to be geared toward maximum up-skirts and panty peekaboos, ignoring the fact that Sakura's look has drifted from a very disturbing sexy 16-year-old to a slightly less disturbing, and barely legal, hottie Sakura's a straight-up bad-ass. The budding teen pulls off fireballs (think Street Fighter Alpha) effortlessly, laying out backup attacks as the shimmering globes float lazily across the screen. Her uppercuts remain some of the longest reaching in the game and her spinning leg attack seems to be a cross of the hurricane kick and the spinning bird kick. Another attack in Sakura's arsenal appears to be a head stomp or mid-air grab that I never actually connected with. Its starts with a lunging hop toward the other character, feet first. Her Ultra starts with a split kick, knocks the character in the air and then wraps up with a two-footed stomp into the ground. Add to all of that sizzle and speed a mini-skirt and a suspiciously large category of attacks that get her legs above her head and you've got one of my new favorite characters.