After 8 years of playing Street Fighter IV, it is a welcome breath of fresh air to see Capcom go back to the drawing board with their feature franchise. SFV is a departure from its previous title, along with subsequent games before it. Instead of having players focused on aggressive play styles that relied heavily on having a deep understanding of the game’s engine, the game circulates on mental tactics and a deep understanding of your fighters flaws and weaknesses. It’s a wonderful throwback to the days of Street Fighter II, where just about anyone with even the slightest interest in the game could pick up a controller and learn the ropes. Those days have returned, making this the most accessible title in the series yet.
The feature gameplay change to the game’s system are V-Triggers and V-Skills. Each fighter has access to these moves, but they differ in function and utility depending on who you choose. This gives the game a fair amount of balance, giving characters the means and methods to get past their initial flaws, even if for the few seconds the V-Skill meter allows. For example, Ryu’s trigger gives him a parrying maneuver similar to the counter-blocking system in Street Fighter III. Additionally, his V-Skill amps up his moves by supercharging his fireballs, uppercuts and super move. On the inverse, Zangief’s Trigger gives him the ability to absorb hits without being stopped, similar to Street Fighter IV’s saving attack system. His skill gives him a supercharged lariat, which can suck his opponents in and launch them into the air for a devastating air grab. These V moves give each character a unique tool that diversifies the cast, making them all quite fun to play.
Though the game will be getting a significant upgrade in March, it is very obvious that the game was rushed for release. This poses no issue for the competition-minded player, as the game is primarily meant for online play and succeeds in giving online fighters many avenues to lock fists. For casual players, there is disappointment to be had. There is no arcade mode at this time, only a Survival mode and a lackluster story mode that features still images. Compare this to Street Fighter IV’s wonderful anime cut-scenes and you’ll see what Capcom flaked on.
As of now, only those interested in online play or local 2-player fighting need apply. Don’t come for the single player, it is not all there. Once the “update” (in reality, what should have been in the game to begin with) is released, the game will feel more complete. Players will have access to fighter trials for practice, an actual arcade mode and access to the store. Once the store launches, players will be able to spend te Fight Money they earn through playing the games modes. The DLC characters will also be available for purchase, as opposed to just purchasing them for DLC. This sound awesome, but we have yet to see the costs involves in unlocking the post-release content. Given that DLC is big money, earning the characters on your own may take a serious amount of time. Remember Marvel vs Capcom 2? Could be worse.
The most glaring issue with the game at the current time is the stability of the online mode, which is inexcusably low. Since day one, players have been dealing with constant disconnects, inability to find or host games, stats not being updated and complete outages. Though the lack of content can be forgiven, not being able to access the rest is just bad. At the time of this review, I have not been able to host an open lobby for more than a few seconds before getting disconnected. This is on a hardwired connection with little network traffic. Thankfully the background matchmaker is efficient and I have matches come to me after only a few moments, sometimes a minute or two. I pass the time by watching character combo videos while keeping the game in a window.
To sum up, Street Fighter V is an incredible game, but coming with poor execution. Though there is a solid title here, technical issues and a lack of content are marring the game. If you can’t wait to sink your teeth into some competitive gameplay, pick it up. If you wish to enjoy the game casually, wait until March.