Editor’s note: There’s another new writer in town and shizzle’s just got rizzle. This’ll be called an in-depth review due to its length (for which the writer apologises), and he’ll have a section on the about page soon.
Hey, I’m David. I might be reviewing things for this site now if the grand dictators allow me to. Yep.
If you know me, you’d know that I absolutely adore fighting games. So you can imagine my excitement when Street Fighter V was announced. While I’m personally more of a Tekken guy myself, I remember being quite fond of Street Fighter IV. And hey, even if you’re a die-hard fan of Mortal Kombat, Soulcalibur, Smash Bros. or any other fighting game series, who the hell doesn’t like Street Fighter?
So you can also imagine my disappointment when my initial impressions were that it had an extremely similar art style to IV, a small character roster, dumbed down characters, seemed pretty unfinished AND had numerous online issues on launch. As you can probably tell by how this review is around two months after the game released, I decided to withhold from buying it until recently. I got my hands on the game just in time for a fairly major update, with the addition of a trials mode, release of the in-game shop and a DLC character returning from Street Fighter 3, Alex.
Let’s start off with the thing that everyone slammed the game on: its lackluster single player content. And yes, unfortunately it is very lackluster. There’s a very basic Story mode which generally consists of two to three battles for all 16 characters (and future DLC characters) with some very shoddily drawn visual novel style ‘cut scenes’. It took me less than 2 hours to clear every character’s story. The AI was way too easy. So easy in fact that a 6-month old baby managed to beat Birdie’s story. I’m not even kidding, look it up. And there’s no incentive to go back and play them again either.
There’s a standard Versus mode for playing locally with friends which allows you to customize basic stuff like how many rounds there are, the match timer and so on. But for some reason I can’t even comprehend Capcom didn’t think it would be a good idea to add an option to play a normal match against an AI opponent. I can personally put up with some features not being in the game at the moment, as they did say it would be in this state before launch and more will be on its way as the year goes on, but not putting in something so standard as that is honestly unacceptable.
Moving on from that mini-rant, there is also a Survival mode. You fight multiple opponents in a row, and damage taken is persistent between fights. After each fight you gain points based on how well you preformed in that fight. You can spend these points to gain back some health, get a damage or defense boost for the next round, or to double down. Doubling down will multiply the amount of points you gain next round by giving you a disadvantage. These can be as minor as your critical gauge (Street Fighter V’s version of a super meter) not filling up for a 2x multiplier, to extremes where your health is reduced to almost nothing for a massive 10x multiplier on score. It strikes a great balance for risk and reward and ultimately makes this mode much more fun than it should have any right being. Whether you’re in it for the biggest score possible or in need of more points to gain more health back, it’s a great system.
My only real complaint with the mode is how they handled the difficulty in the later stages. In survival there are 4 difficulties: Easy, which is 10 matches in a row, Normal, which is 30 in a row, Hard which is 50 and Extreme which is a ridiculous 100 consecutive matches. Easy and Normal are fair enough with good difficulty curves as you get to the later stages, but Hard and Extreme late stages are, simply put, unfair. The AI will block and punish most-to-everything you do and punish with a high damage combo to go along with your frustration. You have no choice but to do safe pokes until the AI decides it’s going to not block your attack so you can do a combo or whatever. It’s just not fun. At all.
Next up is Trials, which is a new mode added in the March update. Simply put, this mode is fantastic for newcomers. There are 10 trials for each character which teach you basic combos to start off with, but end with tricky, high damage combos which utilize every mechanic you’ll come across in the game. Whilst if you’re a veteran they’ll be an absolute cakewalk, for newbies it’s a great tool to help them learn some combos so that they can break free from the button mashing shackles that hold them down from getting better at the game.
Last up for single player is Training mode. It’s your run of the mill training mode that you expect in any fighting game. They give you a vast array of tools to help you set up gameplay scenarios. No complaints here.
You can really tell Capcom put most of their focus into the game’s online — and it really does show. While the game did have a horrific online launch with constant disconnections from the servers, wins not being registered and lots and lots of rage quitting with no punishment, it has thankfully improved dramatically. While I had the odd match where the opponent would warp around the screen and dragon punch me 10 times within the span of a couple of seconds, or where I dominated some poor soul and they felt the need to eject their game over points in a video game, it’s mainly been a very smooth experience. The netcode is good and there’s hardly ever instances where it lags so badly it’s unplayable. There’s a small, but passable selection of modes for online as well.
There’s your standard casual matches for if you want a stress free, quick and easy online match. You can also set up rooms with different rule sets of your choosing for up to 8 players. In the end, it’s fair to say the real meat of the online modes is Ranked mode. For this game, they decided to opt for skilled-based matchmaking with ranks, similar to games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. You gain points if you win, and lose points if you lose. If you surpass a certain amount of points you’ll rank up a league. If you lose a certain amount of points you’ll de-rank. Simple system, but it makes matches all the more intense when you’re on the verge of ranking up or ranking down.
You’re probably screaming at your screen, “Oi, you bloody muppet! You haven’t even told us what the gameplay is like yet you absolute dingus (Milo’s terminology there but hey, I’m new here)!” Well, I’ll keep you waiting no more! Street Fighter V feels absolutely magnificent to play. It’s most similar to Street Fighter 3, but with a modern touch. The controls are tight and decisive, combos feel great to pull off, and it’ll make you keep on playing until the early hours of the morning like it did me. It’s pure fighting game bliss.
A big part of the gameplay would be the characters. Shocker! So, what’s the roster like? It’s small, but I think that’s okay. This game was built from the ground up to be a competitive game, so the smaller roster clears the tier gap to a point where pretty much every character in V is viable to play at a high level. The DLC characters won’t affect the balance too much either, as they are being trickled in every couple of months and I’m sure they’re probably getting fine-tuned to not be stupidly overpowered. You can never trust Capcom not to screw up but we’ll see. Anyway let’s talk more about those DLC characters, eh? Five more characters are planned to be released in 2016: Guile, Balrog, Ibuki, Juri and Urien. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, “ARE YOU SERIOUS!? THEY’RE SELLING GUILE AS DLC!? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS LUNACY!?” I’m sure people have been screaming that for a while, my dear readers. While it is pretty sucky that they’re selling a staple character like Guile as DLC, it isn’t as bad as you think. Capcom are allowing you to buy the DLC characters with in-game currency called Fight Money, and they’re going 100,000 a pop. While that sounds like it would take forever to get, it’s actually pretty obtainable. After playing the game for a week or two, I’ve gathered around over 200k by simply playing the game. It’s a fantastic system and better than most; if not all DLC modules at the moment. And it’s even more surprising that it’s coming from Capcom of all companies. Alternatively you can buy each character for around £5, which is a fair price in my eyes.
I should probably wrap this needlessly long review up by talking about the new characters, huh? Well, there are four of them. There’s Necalli, an angry looking Aztec warlord dude with some pretty crazy dreadlocks. His move set is a mix-match from a lot a different types of characters. He’s fairly easy to play and very fun to use.
Then there’s FANG, who looks like a cheesy villain out of a Sunday morning cartoon. His design is unorthodox and unfitting with the rest of the cast, and that’s why I love him. He’s a charge character with specials that cause poison, and he has strange multi hits along with odd animations. He’s pretty much the Voldo of Street Fighter V.
Third, there is Rashid! He’s a cool as hell Arab dude with a scouter from Dragonball Z. He’s by far the most mobile character in the game with good speed, the ability to wall jump to escape corners and specials designed specifically to move around your opponent.
Lastly is Laura, an upbeat lady from Brazil with electrical powers similar to Blanka… who looks like she would fit better into a Dead or Alive game. Despite the distracting design, she has a very fun move set with good spacing tools, anti-air and combos.
I personally love the new characters, design wise and of course gameplay wise. I can see that a lot of love and care were put into designing these characters to be unique compared to the existing roster whereas we would see characters that were almost identical to each other in previous installments. Kudos to Capcom!
To summarise: Street Fighter V is another great installment in the franchise with the exquisite master-class gameplay you’d expect from it. Whilst it lacks in strong single player content, it is exceptional for anyone looking for an online experience which will draw you back over and over again. To someone who’s more of a casual player and wants to play against AI only, I would give this game a miss; at least until an arcade mode is finally added later on this year. But for me, someone who just wanted a great online experience and local versus mode to play with friends, it was well worth my purchase.