5 Time's a Charm
Written by Jessie Seilhan
It’s been eight years and millions of fireballs since we had a new Street Fighter game. Capcom has taken their sweet time, iterating on Street Fighter IV’s gameplay and roster to ensure tournament-level quality was available to everyone. But times change and so do games, so a proper numbered sequel was in order for this new gaming generation. Sony picked up part of the tab to ensure console exclusivity and after a few betas, Street Fighter V is among us. With it comes a return to simpler gameplay systems and mechanics, as well as four brand new characters and plenty of returning favorites. But does the game offer enough modern modes and trappings worthy of its $60 price tag?
Booting up the game should give you a little bit of a pause. The only modes available at launch are online battles (of the ranked and casual variety), a survival mode, training room, and a two-to-three fight “story” mode. That’s it. A fleshed-out cinematic campaign is being promised for June, but no details have been revealed as far as the quality or length of said campaign. The store is closed until further notice, so new characters or costumes are not on display as of yet. Same for the Challenges mode, a great way for learning the ins and outs of different characters. As a whole, unless you love playing online or have a buddy to beat up on the couch next to you, the package is fairly barren. A quality internet connection is also important, as the credits you earn to purchase all the DLC only gets accrued if you’re connected to the web. Sadly, offline gamers need not apply.
Lucky for Capcom, once you actually get into a match, the game is fantastic. The back and forth action of a well-paced fighting game is at its best in this version of SF, with new mechanics that are both easy to learn and deep enough to master. The new characters feel right at home, with Necalli standing out as the early favorite among the rabid fanbase. Classics like Ken and Ryu haven’t been tinkered with too much, so anyone that remembers how to throw a Hadouken or Dragon Punch from 1991 will feel right at home. The V system is by far the newest wrinkle, as every player gets three unique moves, two of which that cost a bit of meter to perform. V-skills cost nothing and they are activated by pressing both medium buttons together, giving players like Chun-Li a horizontal jump or Zangief some extra armor. V-reversals help you get out of tight spots and act similarly to Killer Instinct combo breakers, turning the tide of battle during a close fight. And V-triggers are the cream of the crop, as they are often flashy moves that either turn into damaging combos or unblockable throws. Super finishing moves are back, this time dubbed Critical Arts, and continue to deliver round-ending destruction when pulled off correctly.
Mileage always varies for fighting game franchises, as you need a healthy amount of competitive spirit to pick one up. But SFV does something better than ever in helping to foster this feeling: replays and leaderboards. While waiting for your next match, you can browse the leaderboards for the entire world, and do a deep dive into individual fighter profiles. You can see their record and actually watch any match they’ve played online. You can store these matches for future viewing and replay your own battles for training purposes.
It feels like Capcom really wanted to help people get better at the game, and while a challenge mode and better netcode would have gone a long way toward accomplishing that goal, having this replay system is a good start. Ultimately, you know if Street Fighter is your “type” of fighting game or not. But if you’re nervous how a new entry works in 2016, fear not, as there is plenty of fun to be had with this cast of world warriors. It is hard to recommend in it’s current form, given the absence of so many key features and modes so adopting a wait-and-see approach until further notice might be the best course of action.
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