Street Fighter V marks a strange chapter in the franchise’s long-running history. It’s the first time that a numbered instalment has been created without an arcade version, but also be a console exclusive. Much hype has surrounded this title from the fighting game community thanks to the multiple beta periods, and with good reason. Street Fighter V has already demonstrated how good it is.
It’s from those windows into the game that many fans will already have made their decision on whether to invest in Street Fighter V. However, one thing to be aware of is taht Street Fighter V isn’t feature complete at launch. Challenge mode is currently locked off, while other modes such as the Battle Lounge for online meetings only support 1v1 at this time. Some of these are coming very soon after launch, but Capcom are treating this as a long term platform to build on, rather than a game.
As such, this review approaches Street Fighter V from how the game plays in its pre-launch state. So far we have 16 characters to choose from, including series mainstays and returning cast members from the Street Fighter Alpha games, plus brand new fighters that round off a diverse roster. Certain characters have been shaken up a little bit, such as Dhalsim’s move pool being drastically unlike previous iterations, breathing new life into underused characters.
Big changes to the classic formula come in the form of the V-Skill and V-Triggers. These are commands that are unique to each character, but are universally are activated using the Medium Punch & Medium Kick, and Heavy Punch & Heavy Kick buttons respectively. V-Reversals can also be initiated for a chunk of this bar by blocking and then pressing forward alongside either of the three punch/three kick buttons.
Some characters benefit greatly from these skills, such as Ryu’s V-Skill that parries attacks and Birdie’s chilli V-Trigger that makes him hit like a truck, and it makes it fun to experiment with each character. V-Reversals are also a great trick for higher level players that add depth to the combat.
Visually, the game has a distinct look that almost makes characters look as if they’re animated out of clay. Like previous entries in the franchise, Street Fighter V has a great sense of weight, especially when landing a punch or combo. While responsive controls and solid 60FPS certainly help with this effect, it’s the animations and sound that do most of the work here. Minor clipping in character models is unfortunate, but it’s generally a superb looking and sounding game.
But of course, if you played the Beta, you knew this already. At the time of review, the options are somewhat light. Capcom have been forthright with explaining what isn’t available at this time and what will be coming, but this doesn’t disguise the fact that what is currently available is barebones.
Story mode is essentially a precursor to the upcoming cinematic mode, later in the year. Confusingly set between the events of Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter III, this mode consists of a few fights per character that explore a bit of their backstory. Its accompanying artwork is great, honing its comic book style to show the events in an elegant way.
Sadly, this is largely a throwaway mode at this time as you’re able to rinse through all 16 campaigns in little over an hour. Single player gets more exciting with Survival mode, which pits you through a gauntlet of fights, using accumulated points to purchase buffs and debuffs after each fight. This has a decent amount of replay value, but the meat of the franchise is in multiplayer.
At launch there are a few options open to you for multiplayer. While you have the option to go toe-to-toe with a friend in Versus Mode, it’s the Online modes that will hook in the new players. Ranked and Casual matches. Battle Lounges allow for you to invite one friend at launch, but this will be expanded later on. Fight Money is accumulated through everything you do in Street Fighter V, which will allow you to buy things in the shop – another feature that was unavailable at the time of review.
Street Fighter V’s net code is for the most-part stable, though a few matches during the pre-release period against opponents from further afield stuttered to single digit frames per second. Obviously this was in the process of being optimised ahead of tomorrow’s launch to iron out the odd kink, but it generally runs as well as it did in the beta. Though it never came up during the review period, cross-platform play between PC and PS4 versions is a clever inclusion and one that is greatly appreciated.
Even as a person whose grasp of fighting games is nowhere near top-tier standard, Street Fighter V is the most fun I’ve had in a fighting game in years. It’s a bold choice by Capcom to make this an expanding platform rather than a simpler game release, and it means that while it’s light on content, you have to appraise its stability, core combat and look to its true form in the future. Based on the strength of the gameplay and performance, Street Fighter V is a sublime fighting game and shows that this old dog still has some new tricks.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4