It's been over five years since the release of Street Fighter IV, Capcom's definitive sequel in the ongoing fighting game series. A lot of players, both professional and casual, logged countless hours enjoying the action, which only improved over time.

Capcom expanded upon the world of Street Fighter IV with a number of releases, including Super Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. Some might see this as a cash grab, but these additions extended the life of the core game with a number of new faces and tweaks.

Now we come to the final update of the Street Fighter IV saga, Ultra, which releases in retail form this week and is already available via digital upgrade for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Fans are sure to be thrilled with this edition of the series, as it has a lot to offer.

On that note, we came up with a list of five cool features that may convince you to make this Ultra upgrade.

Five new characters to master

Five new characters joined the battle with Ultra Street Fighter IV. First up is Rolento, a veteran from Street Fighter Alpha 2 who brings a quick, weapon-based finesse to his game. Next is Hugo from Street Fighter III and Final Fight, who's a little slow but definitely powerful once his opponent is in range. Elena from Street Fighter III is up next, with impressive quickness and fast moves to knock out her opponent. Poison, from Final Fight, brings her no-nonsense street style to Ultra with plenty of combo moves to go with her good looks. Finally, Decapre offers a variation of the Cammy style, but with new moves that make her unpredictable.

Along with the other fighters and their respective downloadable costumes available in the full version, this is easily one of the biggest rosters you'll find in a Street Fighter game.

Edition Select champions older versions of popular characters

We've heard a few discussions where fighting fans jumped into Street Fighter match-ups, only to say stuff like, “The Ken from Street Fighter III is the best,” or something along those lines. Sometimes a variation of a character from the past is better than the current version. With this in mind, Capcom fixed this by including Edition Select for certain legacy characters.

All you need to do is select your character, and you'll be able to see which versions are available. Note: this may take some of the power moves from later editions out of the equation, but it'll leave you with the style you've come to expect from the classic version. It never hurts to experiment. Who knows? Maybe Super Street Fighter II Sagat will grow on you more than Super Street Fighter IV Sagat. Tiger uppercut!

Team Battle Mode will put your skills to the test

 

If you really want to see how good a fighting fanatic you are, give Team Battle Mode a try. In this mode, you'll go up against opponents in a three-versus-three fashion, trying to stay alive as long as you can as you face new opponents. It works along the same lines as the King of Fighters games, only your health bar carries over from the previous match, without any sort of recharge.

For gamers looking for a fresh new angle, this is a fantastic addition, and you can upload your best brawls to YouTube as well, through a sharing feature that's been a big hit in certain Capcom games these past couple of years.

Oh, and if you need a refresher, be sure to check out the online training mode as well. It lets you spar with a buddy with ease – even if it means getting your butt kicked.

Use more than one Ultra Combo at a time

One great aspect to the newer Marvel vs. Capcom games is being able to team up ultra combos together into one devastating attack, which results in wiping out an opponent if you connect. Now that feature comes to Ultra Street Fighter IV, as you can select the option to use both Ultra Combos over the course of a match, in case you want to put the exclamation point on it.

Of course, there's a catch. By doing this, you'll dish out reduced damage against opponents. That makes it quite a challenge for veterans who want to test their elite fighting skills, then finish off their adversaries with the ultimate final blow. 

The best balancing in the series to date

Finally, you've heard about how Capcom's fighting team put an enormous amount of time into tweaking Ultra Street Fighter IV matches, so they're the most balanced in the series. That's based upon direct fan feedback across all of the 39 characters originally included, as well as the five new ones.

As a result, the core system mechanics were balanced, but not to the point where it feels like a completely different game. As a result, no character overpowers the next, even with Zangief's grab moves and some fighters' juggling capabilities. Here, you'll stand a better chance – though you still need every ounce of fighting skill you can muster.

Ultra Street Fighter IV's digital upgrade is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The full retail version will arrive on August 8th for both systems, and later in the month for PC.