REVIEW: STREET FIGHTER V

So three open betas, various network stress tests later, I finally have my own copy of Street Fighter V. After years and years of seeing the same character models in Street Fighter IV and its various iterations, I’m ready to throw down in a new game. Have Capcom made a game that will go down as a great time for all, or have they dropped that game winning combo?

This is a game that switches things up from previous Street Fighter games in an effort to make it easier to get into for newcomers to fighting games. For example, gone are combos that require strict 1/60th of a second (one frame) button press, now you have a three frame buffer window on all button combos. It doesn’t sound like much, an extra fraction of a second, but it makes a huge difference when you’re playing the game. There’s a roster of 16 characters, all different and unique, giving you less to learn about the game when it comes to fighting each of them when compared to the final iteration of the previous game, which had well over 40. It’s also the first fighting game that has full cross platform play between PC and Ps4, allowing for one unified leader board to truly see who’s the best in the world.

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Every new Street Fighter series also brings along with it a new system mechanic. Street Fighter IV gave us focus attacks, a means of absorbing a hit as well as extending combos under the right circumstances. This game gives us the V System, a new bar which is shown in game above your super meter, which is used for three things. Both your medium buttons are your characters V-Skill, a unique skill for each character that gives them more options on attack or defence. For example Ken gets a run for keeping up offensive play, Ryu can parry incoming attacks and Cammy gets an attack which gets her around projectiles with ease.  Using these skills enough, or simply taking hits, give you access to your V-Trigger, a system which allows you to boost your offence or extend combos depending on the character.

But while the game gives, it also takes away. While this game is incredibly rewarding and satisfying to play for people who are learned and understand the genre, it does absolutely nothing to help newcomers. When you first start the game you’re treated to a simple tutorial for playing Ryu, going through some of his options and what his V-System abilities are. But that’s it. What if you don’t want to play Ryu? There are no trials in the game to help you learn a different character (yet), no versus mode against the computer to practice simple things, and a pitiful excuse for a story mode to play, consisting of a maximum of three fights against anaemic AI opponents.  Between a lack of newcomer friendly options and the servers being a complete joke on launch day, taking forever to find an online game and not being able to play with any friends, as well as having to go through survival mode’s cheap AI to unlock colours for characters, Capcom seem like they’re trying to shoot themselves in the foot before the game even launched.

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They aren’t leaving the game in its current form though (*cough cough* NetherRealm MKX PC Port, what happened???), for one they’re continually working on the server problems for online multiplayer. March is when the main menu options are going to unlock, giving you access to the trails mode as well as the shop, where you can spend all the gold you got from doing those 10 minute story modes to unlock some new costumes, as well as the first DLC character being released at the same time, Alex of Street Fighter 3 fame.  More DLC characters have already been confirmed for year one. June will see the release of the game’s proper cinematic story mode, again available to everyone for free, finally adding some much needed single player content to the game. Let’s just hope it’s at least enjoyable.

There is however, some flawed but understandable logic behind all of this lack of content nonsense. You see, the Capcom Pro Tour is going on again this year. A yearlong event where the top Street Fighter players from around the world will compete for entry into a 32 man event with a $500,000 prize pot, mainly thanks to Sony. This being the first year where its being ran with Street Fighter V, and the first event coming up in March, it’s pretty evident they’ve rushed this out to allow professional players the time necessary to practice up for the big events.  Which is great news if you’re one of those competitors; however it doesn’t excuse the sorry state it’s come out in for the rest of the people who want to enjoy the game. However, I’d love to come back to this review in a few months and update on what gets added and whether it adds to the newcomer experience in the ways I hope it does.

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I’ve wanted to play Street Fighter V for a long time, and now it’s out I’m going to be learning and playing locally with friends and maybe even competing a little. I think it’s fantastic. The game goes back to a more basic system like Street Fighter 2, with fights relying more on understanding your opponents and their habits to fight, rather than spending more time understanding game mechanics and how to get around them.

But for people who aren’t as deeply invested as me, the game is going to seem very feature barren with no real way to get into or begin to understand what’s going on. It needs a robust tutorial like Killer Instinct, which truly goes into all sorts of detail about understanding fighting games and their mechanics. (Expect a review on this when it finally drops on PC come next month.)

Rating: 8/10

+ SIMPLISTIC MECHANICS

+ BALANCED AND VARIED ROSTER

+ CROSS PLAY

– LACK OF CONTENT

– VERY LITTLE HELP AND DIRECTION FOR NEWCOMERS TO THE FRANCHISE

TONY DAVIES

 

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