Also On: PC
I have always loved the Street Fighter series. From its humble beginnings as a basic one on one arcade fighter, to the supreme powerhouse it has become today, it has always been a major part of video game history. Now with the release of Street Fighter V for the PS4 and PC, Capcom looks to continue making the best fighting game out there — and while it’s a solid title in most areas, some things that people expect from a new Street Fighter title feel rushed or are completely forgotten.
When you first fire up SFV you are treated to an extremely easy tutorial on how to play. This tutorial was made for those who have never seen a Street Fighter game or quite possibly never picked up a controller, which is strange since this game is not aimed specifically at new players. If you’ve never played a Street Fighter game before, it would seem that this small tutorial would be useful, but it ultimately is pointless, with tasks like “Walk Towards Ken” or “Jump over Ken’s Attack” presented. It almost seems comical that you are forced to play this, but thankfully it doesn’t last long and you will soon be in the game.
The next thing you have to do when starting up the game is sign into to Capcom’s servers and create a profile. In past games, this was used for your online record, but it seems this time it also keeps track of your offline play as well. In an effort to prevent cheating, everything you do is uploaded to the servers and will not be saved if you are not connected, so those looking for quick stat boosts will have to look elsewhere. The bad part of this is, if the servers are down, or they go offline while playing, your record will not be saved, and in some extreme cases can be erased completely. I had a few instances where I could not connect and I did lose a profile once, but since the servers were not officially online at the time, I can forgive these little instances. I sincerely hope that Capcom gets everything in order; otherwise you will have some frustrated people come launch. Largely, it seems Street Fighter V will be an online-only experience at this point, with focus taken away from the single player campaign. In past games, you could play a number of battles leading up to a final boss fight. This time around, the single player campaign is limited to 4 battles per character, with static cut scenes in between.
Fortunately, Capcom has stated that the Story Mode will be expanded upon in a future update, but as it stands right now, it is lackluster and pointless. You can get a feel for the new moves and new characters in this mode, but that’s about it. The only other single player mode is the Survival Mode, which is an endless battle with every character (except boss characters). After every fight, you can use your points you earn to refill your health, super move meters and give you some extra attack power for the next fight.
The new characters Capcom have introduced fit very well with the returning characters, with only a few balance issues between fighters. There doesn’t seem to be one fighter that will dominate over everyone, but you will no doubt run into a few issues with certain match-ups. R. Mika, for example is much slower than her Alpha 3 counterpart, so veteran players will have to re-learn her combos. Other characters like Ryu and Ken are toned down, but still hit pretty hard. Chun-Li seems to have taken a big hit in power, and many of her moves are watered down, while newcomer Laura seems to be a little too fast. None of these balance issues hinder the gameplay in a big way, but it’s definitely noticeable when compared to previous games.
As I stated before, right now Street Fighter V is mostly an online experience, and the online is done well for the most part. In the battles I was able to connect to, the action was smooth and contained only minor lag. There were only a few instances where I had trouble connecting, but as the updates flow out I’m sure these minor issues will be corrected. It seems that a major update is planned for March, with a few things on the main menu like The Shop and some Battle Lounge features not available until then. So we will have to see if this update will fix the minor online issues, and perhaps extend the other modes and iron out the character balance. As it stands right now, everything is good, but it could be a lot better!
The visuals in Street fighter V are a joy to behold. Everything from the backgrounds, to the smallest detail in the fighter’s clothing are rendered beautifully. There is even a bit of cel shading used in the detail, but it’s subtle and not overused. The animation is absolutely stunning and really seems to take advantage of the PS4’s power. The static cut scenes you see in the Story Mode look out of place and I would of preferred these scenes to be animated as they would of looked way better, but it’s not a big deal. Control is tight and responsive even with the standard PS4 controller. For those who prefer a joystick, there are options for the PS4 sticks as well as support for PS3 sticks you may already own. Whichever you prefer, you will not have any issues controlling your fights, so if you lose a lot of your matches, you definitely cannot blame the controller.
Everything you know from Street Fighter, sprinkled with a few new combinations, make the fighting a fun experience. One new feature is the V Trigger meter. This meter fills up as you land moves or take damage. It’s not a super move, but rather a sort of power up that affects all of your regular and special attacks. Using this can quickly turn the tables against an opponent if used correctly and can really ruin your day if used against you. It’s a nice addition to the standard fighting formula, and can make the most one-sided fights a bit more even.
Overall Street Fighter V is a welcome addition to the franchise, but is missing quite a bit that made the previous games in the series so great. Switching focus to an online experience works on many levels but more attention should have been paid to the offline modes as well. In its current state, it doesn’t feel like a complete package that it could have been. Online for the most part is great, while other modes feel rushed and tacked on. I hope that the updates that are coming expand the single player experience as promised and also help with the random connection issues that could be troublesome for some players.
While it’s not bad on any level, SFV definitely feels unfinished and not as polished as previous games in the series. If you’ve never played a Street Fighter game before, this may not be the best title to start with, as it’s clearly aimed at veteran players who know the game inside and out. I have high hopes that all of the minor issues will be fixed in the near future and I might revisit this review when the patch arrives. In its current state, Street Fighter V is still a solid fighter that fans of the series will certainly enjoy.