After playing through many updated versions of Street Fighter IV, fans were delighted to hear that the fighting game would be taking its next step forward with Street Fighter V. With fighting games offering more than ever before and even niche titles being released in the West to certain levels of success, many saw Street Fighter V as the best way to take advantage of the popularity spawned of IV and bring the game to new heights. So now that the title has been released, it is evident that that has turned out true, unfortunately the complete bare bones nature of the game at launch is going to be a detriment for most common players.
Currently Street Fighter V offers a story mode that barely qualifies as one, as even the most basic of arcade modes (which this game is currently lacking) offer more information and details about the characters than this does. While a full cinematic experience is planned for release in June, future promises cannot make up for the initial offering that presents players with extremely short (less than five minutes usually) story segments for each of the sixteen characters.
With no difficulty adjustment available in this mode, players will often be placed into three or, for the shorter stories, two one-round matches against incredibly easy opponents that only barely tie together any semblance of a story. Most character stories feature fighters simply running into one another and then fighting it out before a quick unsatisfying epilogue to close out the story and generally leave players with no actual idea on what the core story will offer when the update is released.
This means that while players may get the smallest glimpse at what the future update may hold and provides a few hints about the brand new characters, once you finish the entire story mode in about an hour and a half then you’ll be left wanting more. While many fighting game fans simply breeze past a story mode, the amount of effort that other titles in the genre have begun putting into this mode makes Street Fighter V’s initial offering something of a shock.
Generally the bulk of a fighting game’s modes come in the form of single player content with the multiplayer component being there for those who wish to test their skills against others around the world. Street Fighter V is the exact opposite of that. Not only does it not offer the aforementioned arcade mode, it also lacks a versus mode against computer opponents, and even a proper tutorial system.
There will be a challenge mode that is currently grayed out and will be updated in March, as well as the most basic of practice modes, and finally a survival mode that allows players to take on the same set of opponents in a row depending on difficulty with various supplements that can be taken between one round battles to provide your fighter with more health or boost their meters for the next fight.
This means that those looking for some single player fun will find Street Fighter V incredibly lacking at the moment, meaning most of the fun comes from playing online at the moment but even this mode is lacking in a few ways. Currently players can only create a “Battle Lounge” that will allow one other opponent to fight in a room at a moment with the rooms being expanded to eight players in the coming months. Plus while seeking battles outside of Battle Lounge players will automatically have their character chosen for them from their pre-selected favorite fighter, meaning that the ability to choose a fighter that may be better against your opponent’s selection is null here.
Outside of this standard battle lounge, which at the moment cannot even be used to spectate fights, there are your predictable Ranked and Casual Matches that players can either select and wait around to be paired up with an opponent or set to seek fighters in the background while practicing or taking part in survival mode, with fights against online opponents being entered when available and keeping players from simply waiting around. Every fight that I entered into, even with opponents that were shown as being from overseas, was presented with no apparent lag which is perfect for a game that can be as technical as Street Fighter. This allows online combat to be as fluid as offline fights against your friend sitting on the couch as the title is not plagued by any kind of input lag even on some of the tougher combos.
Taking part in the limited single player content and winning fights against opponents online provides the player with “Fight Money” that will eventually can be used to purchase new costumes as well as upcoming DLC characters through the currently grayed out Shop. This is a nice touch that serves as a nice incentive to keep players active and playing the game, especially since 100,000 Fight Money can be used for a DLC character and the single player content providing nearly FM to purchase two fighters if you don’t bother with story costumes. That being said, with “Premium” costumes requiring players to use the paid currency of Zenny and any attempts at earning Fight Money while offline being impossible, it will be interesting to see just how well received this method will be once DLC begins to roll out.
Now while I have been railing about Street Fighter V’s dearth of available modes at launch, I cannot say that this is in any means a bad game because the actual combat and gameplay revisions to the fighting system in Street Fighter V present an incredibly enjoyable fighting game that is quite an overhaul from the previous title as well as a title that, despite the only real way to train being against a heavily modified practice dummy or grinding away at online fights, is far more forgiving for newcomers.
The ability to pull off combos as well as special moves has been increased by making timing on these moves less rigid than before and the removal of Chip damage, which is the small amount of health lost while blocking, can no longer end a round if your health is low except for being hit with a Critical Art (new name for Ex) attack. The other new system comes in the form of the V-System that introduces a V-Meter and three new moves for each fighter.
A V-Skill that can be used at any time with a simple press of medium punch and medium kick at the same time, a V-Reversal which is activated when blocking and pressing all punch buttons at a time at the cost of one portion of the V-Meter, and a special V-Trigger that requires a full meter to pull off but offers either a boost to your fighter’s strength, added special elements to their attacks, or simply unleashes an attack. Each of the characters in the game has a unique set of special V abilities that players will either need to test out and learn themselves or turn to an online source to learn more.
As for the actual fighters, Street Fighter V is offering a fairly respectable sixteen fighters available at launch with the aforementioned planned DLC characters on the way. In games as technical as Street Fighter can be, creating a solid character and balanced character base is essential to delivering a remarkable and long lasting experience and just like the tightened up combat systems, the fighters in Street Fighter V are the best they’ve ever been though some fan favorites may be missing.
The depth and diversity of the available roster is stronger than ever before with new characters Necalli and F.A.N.G. fitting in perfectly as fresh faces designed for close-up aggressive battling and for zoning attacks that are a bit trickier. Every character in the game is different from one another in at least a few ways with most of the new cast and returning fights offering a little something for everyone with even Ryu and Ken being a bit different this time around thanks to the V system. This means that players will want to spend plenty of time practicing either by running through survival or simply messing around in training mode in order to learn what character is best for their playstyle and how to handle their various special moves.
Visuals & Audio
Not only has the fighting in Street Fighter V undergone a renovation the graphics of the title are quite different from what fans of the series are familiar with. The characters are detailed to an impressive level and the special maneuvers they pull off have never looked better. Even the stages that players battle on, despite being rather low in number, are outstanding looking with plenty of action and guest appearances occurring while the players fight in the forefront. It is worth noting that some long time fighters have undergone something of a style change which may be a bit upsetting for a few fans and at the moment the only costume changes come in the form of different color palettes, though costumes will be available when the shop launches.
As for the soundtrack, Street Fighter V features an impressive track list giving players plenty of intense music to fit the action packed fights. The voice work, which can be individually customized between English and Japanese for each character, is quite impressive though you won’t be hearing too much unique dialogue here at the moment.
Street Fighter V is something of a strange title in the way that, despite the barebones single player content and continuing server issues affecting online, still proves that Capcom has taken a real step forward with this game by offering an outstanding fighting game that has refined its combat mechanics in a manner that makes it a bit easier for newcomers to learn while providing plenty of complexity for veterans. Unfortunately thanks to the lack of pretty much any mode that fans of fighting games have expected for the past decade, Street Fighter V’s potential greatness is hidden away and likely won’t arrive for a few more months.
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