It's no secret that I'm a fairly large fan of fighting games, and of the surrounding community. I tend to dip into almost every new title I can get my hands on. I owe much of this genre attachment to a number of influential franchises; Street Fighter is most certainly one of those. It's a series that has been around for 29 years, and continues to dominate the fighting game community in various tournaments. It's a series that exists on a multitude of platforms and generations, and continues to have a deep fighting system that can be inviting for newcomers, challenging for all, and rewarding for the veterans who put the necessary time into pulling off the nicely choreographed combos. Sony and Capcom shocked the world by the announcement that Street Fighter V would arrive as a "console exclusive" for the Playstation 4. It's also out on PC, but to seal an exclusive contract for the home console scene is big; and it's very enticing for consumers still on the fence about integrating into the 8th generation of consoles. Similar to just about every other Street Fighter instalment in the franchise, Street Fighter V comes as a rather plain introduction, with promises of future entries to add more meat to the experience.
There is a sort of story mode in Street Fighter V. Characters each have either 3-4 levels that try and tell a story about what they're doing and how/why they encounter one another. Those that were hoping they would take pages from Netherrealm and their recent trend of a pure storyline as seen in the recent Mortal Kombat games may be a tad disappointed at how basic the story mode is here. That being said, it's a decent tutorial to get players familiar with each character, and their personality. There are 16 characters in Street Fighter V, which seems like a small amount. Capcom has also announced the first wave of DLC characters, including Balrog, Guile and fan-favourite Alex from Street Fighter III. It's nice to see plans of continued support for the game, but it's honestly really odd why staples in the series like Guile and Balrog, are left out for DLC. They were omitted from the core game to most likely make room for the new and returning characters. Fans of the Alpha series will be pleased to know that Karin makes her 3D debut, along with Rainbow Mika. Birdie makes his long-awaited return, and sporting a large beer belly this time around. Charlie Nash returns once again under the name Nash; his story seems to be that of a soldier who was presumed dead, now brought back to life in search of those that betrayed him. New entries to the series are a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter named Laura, an Aztec fighting god named Necalli, Rashid is a tech-savvy man of the Middle East, and F.A.N.G is an assassin who uses poison in his attacks. All have very distinct playstyles and feel right at home in the Street Fighter Universe. One odd omission from the main single player gamestate is the lack of a traditional Arcade mode. I'm fairly certain it is going to be patched in later, but considering the simplicity of the story mode that could be finished in its entirety in less than an hour, it's odd to not something like an arcade mode, especially considering this is an arcade game.
While much of the gameplay is largely the same as a six-button fighter, there are lots of new tweaks and additions to the core gameplay. The first new noteworthy mechanic is called the "V-Skill". This seems to have replaced the classic focus attacks. By pressing M-Kick and M-Punch together at the right time, it produces a unique attack or reversal for each character. Ryu's V-skill seems to work as more of a counter and parry "“ similar to Street Fighter III. Chun-Li's is more of a lateral jump, allowing her to travel a bit farther across the screen, and can be used for some great overhead combos. Nash's V-Skill is known as a bullet grab, and seems to be one of the few characters that can build his V-Gauge by using his unique V-Skill. So there are loads of different styles per character, and different strategies for you to work with. V-Trigger is another new feature that is unleashed when you press H-Punch and H-Kick together. Your V-Gauge normally increases by taking damage. Once again, V-Triggers work different for every character. Ken's V-Trigger gives him a quick boost towards the other player. Ryu's unlocks his Denjin state, giving him access to the Denjin Hadoken. Nash does a great teleportation that can work in three different directional inputs. Rainbow Mika incorporates her wrestling partner for some tag-team action. V-Reversal is the final technique that allows players to nullify damage by pressing LMH-Punch or Kick. It's essentially the Alpha Counter from the Alpha Series. Another nice thing to note is that Capcom plans to gradually add to the game's core gameplay, rather than incorporating them into new expansions, like with Street Fighter IV.
Since launch, the online has been hit or miss, with loads of server disconnections that take me back to its notorious beta days. When it works, it's very smooth and the gameplay maintains a solid framerate. But it's a shame to see so many prevalent issues that were reported in spades during the beta-testing still remain in the final product. One great inclusion is the ability to play cross-platform with PC players, offering a holistic community rather than segregated communities. Since most dedicated fighting games are typically played with a fight stick or pad, it maintains an even playing field as opposed to cross compatibility for a first-person shooter, where a keyboard and mouse may offer a considerable advantage. There also seems to be a considerable amount of long loading times for the game, which hopefully will be addressed.
Street Fighter IV, for all of its positives, still received negative backlash as a consumer item, in that it was largely ridiculed for having multiple sequels that built on top of the core game, but were priced at or near full retail value. Of course there was always the option of purchasing the expansions digitally for a slightly cheaper cost, but the negativity surrounding the philosophy of paying more for a "full" version of a game people already paid for remained a consistent opinion vocalized "“ to the point where some jokingly say they will simply wait for an "Ultra Street Fighter V HD Turbo Remix" to show up. Thankfully, it seems that Capcom and DIMPS have listened to the criticism and have taken into much consideration with the development of Street Fighter V. There is of course a season's pass that will cost players $30 to unlock the upcoming characters set to release to beef up the roster. However, those who would rather save the money have another viable method of unlocking the characters: playing the game. Capcom has incorporated two styles of currency "“ Fight Money and Zenny. Zenny are simply coins you can purchase via micro-transactions, while Fight Money is accumulated by simply playing the game. They can then be used to spend on the upcoming content for free. This is an excellent business model for fans, as it encourages and rewards players for playing the game by having them save up enough to unlock characters, and it also allows those who may not have the time or patience to simply buy their content. I sincerely hope this model is maintained, as it could potentially stop the need for "Super, Hyper, Ultra" instalments if they could all be purchased and upgraded using in-game currency with just the core game. One slight drawback to this is that the actual store isn't even up yet. So it's a little confusing why Capcom decided to release the game without some of the main menu features accessible to players.
Street Fighter V is possibly the nicest looking fighting game on the market. It utilizes the Unreal Engine 4, and it definitely shows. Character models are highly stylized and nicely detailed. Animations for each frame look stupendous, and the levels have a great look and feel. Classic characters have had incredible redesigns to them. Dhalsim looks like this wised Yogi with turban and long beard. Ken has ditched his classic red onesie in favour of what looks to be a black compression shirt with red pants. As mentioned before, Birdie probably saw the most change over the course of his lifetime in Street Fighter. Beginning as a tall, light-skinned British Punk rocker in the original Street Fighter game, he quickly changed into a hulking darker skinned figure with dyed blond hair. In Street Fighter V, he seems to have put on much more weight, resembling a cross between Birdie and Rufus. The framerate for each main maintains consistency, albeit the more than frequent matchmaking and connectivity issues online.
Overall Street Fighter V is a good debut for the current generation. It offers many interesting tweaks to the gameplay that seem to resonate most with the Alpha series, includes many new characters along with the 3D debut of other classics, and promises 6 more within the coming months post-launch. It has a new economy built around earning in-game currency to spend on unlocking costumes and characters, which is fantastic for those tired of buying instalment after instalment. It's not without its drawbacks, though. The story mode is lacking, arcade mode is missing, has features in the main menu that are locked out for some weird reason and it continues to suffer from performance and online stability issues that were present during the beta. It's the unfortunate setbacks like these that prevent Street Fighter V from being where it ought to be. As a game, Street Fighter V is a great entry to the franchise, but until some of the issues are tended to, it's not highly recommended as a product. For fighting game fans, I would still encourage you to play, as the mechanics really are well done. I look forward to seeing the fighting game giants display some awesome tech during the Pro Tour and EVO.
|The V-system offers great individuality for each character, and awesome strategies to tinker with.|
|The game looks gorgeous, and is running on the Unreal Engine 4.|
|The new business model allows players to earn in-game currency organically, and spend it on downloadable characters rather than having to buy a new version of the game.|
|Online connectivity issues are prevalent.|
|Lack of a traditional arcade mode is baffling.|
|Loading times can be fairly long.|