Street Fighter V Review

“You did quite well, but you need more training to defeat me.”

Street Fighter V (2016)

Fighting Game
PS4, PC

*Just a note to start with, my conscious experience with the Street Fighter franchise is fairly limited. I went to an after school club that had a copy of Street Fighter II Turbo which I played a tonne of. After that I hadn’t really played a Street Fighter game until dabbling in Ultra Street Fighter IV towards the end of last year. Basically, I haven’t played a lot of Street Fighter, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.*

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One of publisher CAPCOM’s supposed aims with Street Fighter V was to make it more accessible and bring in new players to their long running staple franchise. While they may have succeeded in this with the actual fighting mechanics of Street Fighter V they’ve spectacularly failed in almost every other regard with a near complete absence of any kind of meaningful content for the casual or solo player. Street Fighter V is an excellent, mechanically sound fighting game, but in it’s current state, is geared almost entirely towards the competitive players who concentrate on the online experience.

Let’s get the big point out there first. Street Fighter V is easily one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played when it comes to the main part of the gameplay, the fighting. Like in previous titles in the series, players control two characters on a 2D plain who well, fight against each other (as the title would suggest) until one characters health bar has been depleted. Players can use a mix of light, medium and heavy strikes, jumps and blocks to attack and maneuver around there opponent as well as execute combos and special moves for greater damage and flare. Critical Arts form the super moves that, when the special EX meter is full, allows characters to deal massive damage should they manage to hit the opponent at the right time.

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The ability to stun and throw enemies also shakes up fights considerably, but its the new features that make Street Fighter V much more interesting and accessible to me as a relatively new player. First of all, the frame limit for executing special moves and combos has been increased from Street Fighter IV, meaning it’s significantly easier to pull of flashy special moves than in previous games, which in turn means the average casual player can have a much easier time jumping into the game and not having to worry about spending hours developing muscle memory just to pull off a single combo. Street Fighter hasn’t been this easy to get into in over a decade.

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The new V system also introduces alternate skills to each character, replacing the focus attacks of Street Fighter IV. Each character has several unique skills, reversals and triggers to give them an edge in battle. For example, when activated, Ryu’s V-Trigger covers his fists in lightning, increasing damage and allowing certain attacks to break an opponents guard. Nash’s V-Trigger on the other hand allows him to zip behind an opponent, opening up new possibilities for victory. The system is very easy to understand, yet doesn’t limit the fighting’s potential depth, especially when in the hands of a skilled player. Fighting online against other players, many of which are likely much more skilled than you, now feels like a rewarding experience thanks to the system’s accessibility. I no longer feel I’m bashing my head against a wall when playing online, as I feel I’m naturally getting better at the game. After just a few hours of play, even though I’m still pretty terrible and might only win one match in every ten, I feel like I’m improving considerably as a player, learning the ins and outs of my favourite character’s move sets and how best to utilise them.

The presentation of Street Fighter V also deserves special mention. Though the music will get you pumped up a bit, I’ve not yet heard any memorable tracks and the voice-acting, both for the Japanese and English versions is nothing to write home about. However, the graphics themselves, especially on the character models and animations are top-notch, flashy and gorgeous to behold (except for Birdie – he’s disgusting).

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Unfortunately, the majority of the praise stops here. Despite making an excellent, polished fighting system with 16 unique and interesting playable characters, CAPCOM seemed to forget most of the other features that have been franchise and genre staples for two decades now. There is no meaningful tutorial, no ability to fight against the computer in Versus mode in a regular three round match, no challenge mode, no spectating other player’s fights in multiplayer and worst of all, no fulfilling story or arcade mode. This blatant lack of modes for the casual or solo player is baffling and quite frankly, unacceptable from the average consumer perspective, especially in comparison to Street Fighter‘s competitors like Mortal Combat X or Smash Bros. which offer all this content and more for the same price. CAPCOM has stated that challenge mode and story content will be patched into the game for free at a later date, but at the current time (24th February 2016) Street Fighter V simply does not have enough content for the casual or solo player.

“Story mode”as it is now, if you could call it that, boils to 3-4 single round fights for each character separated by brief, poorly drawn stills with narration. It can be completed in it’s entirety in under 2 hours with little difficulty, even by new players. It barely constitutes a mode, and none of the character narratives are given enough time for the player to be invested in their stories, with players not knowledgeable in  Street Fighter lore being almost completely lost. The game does offer a ‘Survival’ mode in the player continuously fights rounds of increasingly difficult opponents in an attempt to gain a high score, but it’s practically half baked and offer’s little satisfaction to the player. Even the online experience, seemingly the only real reason to pick up Street Fighter V at the moment, is currently suffering from connectivity issues and lag in many matches. When multiplayer works, it works incredibly well, offering exciting, mostly balanced match ups against players of similar skill level, but it’s still very spotty at the moment and suffers from broken stat tracking that plain doesn’t function.

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I can’t really speak about the roster of playable character’s in comparison to the other games, but there are some unfortunate misses in classic characters like Sagat, Blanka, Guile and Honda being left out. Though newcomers Laura, Rashid, F.A.N.G and Necalli are certainly fresh, they still don’t quite make up for those that are missing. I suppose that encapsulates the majority of what I think about Street Fighter V. What content is available in the game at launch is fantastic, but there’s simply not enough of it. Though CAPCOM have stated that all future characters added via DLC will be earnable using the game’s in-built currency ‘FIGHT MONEY’, it would supposedly take 2000 online victories (not matches – victories) to earn enough to buy one new character at the current rate of money gain. This is absolutely outrageous, especially considering the game is lacking in essential modes and characters to begin with.

To conclude, if you’re a gamer wanting to sink your teeth into a deep, competitive fighting experience to test your skills against other players, Street Fighter V is definitely worth your time. For everyone else however, I could only recommended purchasing the game at full price 6 months down the line when more modes and play options have been patched in and when the price will have dropped anyway. It simply lacks enough genre staple modes and characters to warrant the casual or solo orientated gamer investing time or money into it at the moment. Despite presenting the most accessible and fun fighting system to date, Street Fighter V‘s lack of game types likely won’t be able to enrapture anyone but the most dedicated of fighting game fans.

Verdict:

Price: £44.99 (PC – Steam) – Money wasted

Time: 2 hours+ – Depends on the kind of gamer you are.

Casual/Solo Gamer = Time Wasted

Competitive Gamer = Time Well Spent

 

 

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