Fourth hit in the combo.
By now you likely have an opinion on Capcom's continual updates of Street Fighter IV since its console launch in February 2009 through a Super version, then a Super Arcade Edition, and now an Ultra version. This new suffix seems to signify that it will be the last major patch for the SFIV series, but you never know... the words "Hyper," "Turbo," "Anniversary," and "Plus" might sneak in there eventually. Whatever the future holds, Ultra Street Fighter IV carries over a bulk of content that already exists from Street Fighter X Tekken as well as plenty of new mechanics and substance of its own.
The most noticeable addition is the five new characters, Poison, Hugo, Elena, and Rolento from Street Fighter X Tekken as well as Decapre, who looks like the evil Shadaloo twin sister of Cammy in a similar vein to Juri and Juli, two Shadaloo "Dolls" from Street Fighter Alpha 3. Most fighting fans will recognize the first quartet of characters, with Hugo and Elena from Street Fighter III, Rolento from Street Fighter Alpha 2, and as mentioned earlier, Poison making her debut in Street Fighter X Tekken. (But both Rolento and Poison are from Final Fight if we want to be extra-accurate.)
Apart from Decapre, the characters play as you expect they would. Rolento has long range with his leaps, green rod which makes his jabs that much more effective, and grenades (kinda unfair in a fight, really), Elena uses her limber legs and dancing ability, Hugo smashes foes with his gargantuan size, and the gender-bending Poison has good range with her whip and has no qualms kicking opponents in the crotch. Decapre, despite her looks, plays very little like Cammy with charge moves, an in-air spiral arrow that's perfect out of a turtle position, and a combination of light hits for close combat.
Street Fighter veterans will also need to contend with multiple gameplay changes that will deeply impact tournament play. The selection of Ultra Combo Double will allow any character to pull out either Ultra Combo during play, but reduces the power of the typical ditch-effort maneuver. Despite the damage cost, though, this should widen strategies for pros by not letting your opponent figure out which Ultra Combo you'll use in a match.
Equally as pivotal is an enhancement to the standard Focus Attack, which has a one-hit armor shield and can deal a stunning blow. By sacrificing two bars of the Super Combo Gauge, this Red Focus Attack has an armor shield that can withstand continuous attacks, making the move less risky and even more irritating against players who are boxed in a corner. The EX Red Focus move costs three bars, an extremely high cost but allows combo strings from being interrupted if you absolutely need it. Last but not least, you can also Delay Stand, getting off the ground a bit longer than usual to confuse your opponent's ground mix-up game.
Though none of the existing character's storylines have been changed from Super SFIV, with only added cut-scenes for the five new characters, the Ultra edition comes with six environments from Street Fighter X Tekken and two special multiplayer modes. Team Battle allows for up to 8 players divided in two teams, and Elimination is designed for King of the Ring-style play. Online Training has expanded so that you can not only record maneuvers for practice play against specific setups, but you can join an online training session with a friend.
I must also mention that Seth as the final boss isn't an ass-douche anymore as his difficulty level is on par with whatever setting you decide. The game also gives options on which installment version (Regular, Super, Arcade, or Ultra) of a character you want at the selection screen. Trial mode wasn't compatible with the five new characters in the build I was sent, so hopefully, that's fixed by launch.
Cosmetically, Ultra Street Fighter IV is highly customizable by providing all of the costume and color DLCs for the existing roster of characters at no additional cost (so long as you purchase the retail or full download version). Of course, you can expect costume and color packs for the five newcomers to the roster. Some of the music has been replaced by passable rock music, though there's still no way to reduce the BGM volume to zero and still no way to select or deselect which tracks play during battle. Capcom, if you're reading this, please implement both of these changes and I promise I won't drop the grade on the review by a half-star. (There, I said my piece.)
Releasing for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, Ultra Street Fighter IV can be purchased as a packaged retail edition in August 2014 or as a digital upgrade for Xbox 360 and PS3 in June 2014. The digital upgrade for SSFIV and SSFIV: AE owners will be $14.99, the Full Digital Bundle on PC will be $29.99, and the full retail disc/digital bundle for Xbox 360 and PS3 will be $39.99.