by Sorin Annuar
reviewed on PC
A fighting staple
Street Fighter is synonymous with the fighting genre as it exists today. Over the years, Capcom’s flagship franchise has always had a presence in the industry. Thanks to various updates and re-releases as well as a hardcore fan base it also has become a more or less permanent fixture at fighting game tournaments. Since Street Fighter IV had completed its run, it was high time that a true sequel was released.
Capcom have been vocal about what features would and would not be present at the launch of Street Fighter V, such as the online store and challenge mode. Even with this caveat in mind the package feels a bit stark at the time of writing, especially if you are a solo player. Arcade mode is gone, the brief story modes for each of the characters only cover 3-4 fights and AI opponents have to do without adjustable difficulty which means they barely put up a fight - defeating them can be done without any real effort. The lack of a real arcade mode also means it is not really clear if Capcom has stepped away from the concept of having a final boss although some sources have stated that F.A.N.G. is Bison’s new right-hand man, replacing Sagat as a sub-boss. This, however, is not conveyed in any of the currently available modes. In some ways, Street Fighter V veers dangerously close to King of Fighters XII which did away with a final boss fight, resulting in an empty experience.
The core of the Street Fighter experience has always revolved around fighting against a human opponent. And at its purest, with two players sat in front of the same machine, the latest iteration is unadulterated Street Fighter. The new V-skill and V-trigger actions provide another layer of tactical choice per character on top of the EX moves similar to the previous entry in the series. The V-gauge replaces the Revenge meter from IV, filling when the player is hit, and once activated yields a different result per character. Ryu, for example, is able to charge his Hadoken, as well as his Shinku Hadoken Critical Art (the new name for Supers), changing it to an electrically-charged Denjin Hadoken. For many characters this new system effectively works as a stance change, altering even the most basic of moves.
Long-time series stalwarts Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Cammy, Dhalsim, M. Bison, Vega and Zangief are joined by returning Alpha characters R. Mika, Charlie Nash, Birdie and Karin. Making their series debut are Middle Eastern fighter Rashid; Laura, a Brazilian electricity-based grappler and sister of Sean from Street Fighter III; F.A.N.G., a Chinese fighter who utilises poison-based attacks and finally Necalli, an ancient feral warrior reminiscent of Ogre from Tekken. As is always the case with new characters, the jump in character design ethos takes a little while to get used to, but then this is a series that featured bizarre characters from Blanka to Necro and Oro, and it won’t be long before they feel like a natural part of the roster.
Whilst going from the 44-strong roster of Ultra Street Fighter IV to V’s 16 characters does feel like a step backwards, it is worth remembering that IV launched with 17 characters, and Capcom have already announced the next batch of characters, who will eventually be unlockable through normal gameplay. Capcom have also decided to do away with the retitled-style updates such as ‘Super’ and ‘Ultra’, deciding instead to have just one game and provide all updates through the same game.
Street Fighter V then, is a hard creature to score at this point in time; at its lowest it feels like a demo for an upcoming game, but the publisher had been honest from the start and at the request of the fans released it earlier than planned; this however resulted in negative feedback anyway, proving that you can’t please everybody all the time. At its best, and bearing in mind the potential and promise that the game offers – unlockable characters through normal gameplay, an expanded roster, etc. – the game is a very good Street Fighter entry. Only time will tell if it will have the staying power of the last two numbered entries in the series.
There is the potential here for a game that could score 9.0. As it stands, it scores significantly lower. So should you buy Street Fighter V? It depends how invested you are in the series; if you’re a rabid fan, by all means get this now and master the characters while waiting for the updates. If not, or if you’re a casual player, wait until after March for the additional features to be implemented.
Mechanically great, returning characters feel fresh yet familiar, fun for players on the same couch.
Current build lacks features, rocky online matching, story mode too short.