Walking the warrior’s path in Street Fighter V

Street Fighter V is a spectacle of art and fighting, but lacks in the single player department

I’ve never been fantastic at fighting games. This is not for lack of trying – I can always get a few combos off and sometimes throw a Hadouken, but there’s always been more fighting game savvy friends around all too happy to wipe the floor with me. None of this stopped me having a lot of fun with Capcom’s latest title, Street Fighter V, providing a varied and well designed roster of characters that’s only set to expand as time goes on.

Street Fighter V serves as somewhat of a reinvigoration of the brand, and with it already set to be a huge title at Evo 2016 it seems fans and Capcom alike have placed a lot of trust in the game. It’s definitely not unwarranted, with several betas running over 2015 allowing veterans and newcomers to ultimately help shape the game’s release version.

All of this has culminated into quite a polished package on the surface. After fighting your way through the iconic Ryu vs Ken training stage, you’re introduced to the game’s hub and its style, with half a dozen options open to you (and some not – more on that later).

I quickly jumped into the story mode to get to grips with how the new game plays. This mode consists of short, three to five battle long segments that switch between flashbacks of the character’s past and their current adventures. It’s a pretty great way to introduce the personalities and motivations of new characters like Rashid and Laura, while reinforcing and reminding for more well known characters like Ryu and Cammy.

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While the bulk of these missions are one on one fights like the rest of the game, the most interesting aspect was the manga-styled cutscenes that bridge the punching matches. Drawn stylistically with a really gorgeous brush stroke finish, Bengus have done a fantastic job of finding an engaging way to further the simple narratives at play. I happily sat through corny dialogue and mundane details that are fairly easily skippable just for the art alone.

Unfortunately, the battles aren’t quite as engaging in story mode. While all sixteen characters have their own mini stories, opponent AI is fairly easy and not overly aggressive, meaning fights are over fast. I found these fights especially easy to win, whether I was button mashing or trying to learn and pull off combos.

This does the player no favors for the rest of the game, I didn’t come out of these missions feeling like I’d learnt more about the core aspects of Street Fighter – I’d merely overcome three or four mini bosses and moved onto the next chunk. I couldn’t find any options to turn up the difficulty either, and after nabbing in game credits (currently useless) and character XP, there’s little to no reason to jump back in.

Over the course of around two hours I’d completed almost every character’s arc – a disappointing length for the game’s central solo play component. It does however introduce you to the vast character variety on offer here, which is one of the major highlights in the game. Each character’s move set and new V Meter and Critical Art attacks reflect their personality and style, with wrestling combos, tornado blasts, and poison orb moves executed in cinematic glory. The game is an absolute blast to watch and play as you trade these powered up blows, especially as health bars dwindle.Street-Fighter-V-R.-Mika-11_nadeshiko_elbow_drop-CopyThe game’s controls match the sleek look, with triggers and button presses translating to the screen quite fast. It feels like you’d want a fighting game to feel – responsive and tense, with streamlined controls on the PS4’s DualShock 4. This is always good to have in the other single player mode currently available, Survival (a fairly basic, fight until you can’t anymore mode that’s a bit of fun), but even more important in the game’s online modes.

At the time of testing, Street Fighter V’s servers were up and down a lot for pre-release maintenance, and I could only find a few actual online matches to test out the game’s core. Capcom have built Street Fighter V as a platform for their future esports and planned DLC, so this seems to be the reason for a smaller amount of solo options. For now, I can only speak a little as to the online aspects, so this review will be updated when more people are online and playing to adequately test it out.

My brief experiences with Street Fighter V’s casual online match were a little spotty to say the least. While the two or three fights I managed to play went well enough, the connection wasn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be, but this has to be taken with a grain of salt. After all the betas run I’m sure Capcom is hard at work to ensure the online launch gets off to the best that it can.

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My last gripe with Street Fighter V is the content locked behind “coming march” and “coming in future updates”. While Capcom have a fairly rigorous road-map planned out for the year ahead, having currency I couldn’t spend on skins with the shop out of action till a free March update was a little annoying. At the end of the day, in its current form Street Fighter V is a very solid base for the series that die hard fans should enjoy right away, but those looking for plenty of options aside from competitive multiplayer may want to hold off until free patches down the line add characters and modes.

Overall

Street Fighter V is a smooth, fun, and gorgeous fighting game. It’s got a lot of character and the controls feel smooth even on a gamepad, but its highest points are let down by some online issues and even more so the lack of content available for solo play. All that being said, I did quite enjoy what Street Fighter V had to offer and look forward to the additions Capcom brings to the title in the future.

Reviewer notes: Review and score may change depending on online stability and multiplayer post-release, as at the time of writing an insufficient number of matches could be found to thoroughly test this component.

Developer: Capcom, Dimps
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC

A digital review code was provided by the publisher.

Loves Overwatch. Covers DOTA2, League of Legends and basically any Blizzard game in existence.

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