When it comes to fighting games there are two types of players. First there’s the casual players who play the arcade mode trying to reach the top of the ladder or have some friends over for trash talk and bragging rights. The other type of player is the hardcore competitive players trying to prove they’re the best, and it seems like Capcom is catering specifically to this group with the initial release. Since the divide between player base is so large I feel this game deserves two reviews. One reviewing the content released at launch and one reviewing the fighting mechanics.
The way Street Fighter V starts would make one think they were trying to help those who are new to fighting games get interested. The first time you start the game you are forced to play a “tutorial” mode where you play as Ryu fighting Ken in their old school costumes. It only covers the basics like how to walk forwards and backwards and how to punch and kick. If you want more advanced training though you are on your own. The game doesn’t have a challenge mode yet (to be released some time in March) or any other type of instructional modes. There’s not even a spectator mode where you could watch other more experienced players (also being released in March?). The story mode is extremely basic and short. The difficulty level is set so low they may as well have just made you fight training dummies. You can literally finish all of the story modes by just walking up to the opponent and spamming light kick. Each fighter has a short story that lasts anywhere from 2 – 4 single round fights. I finished the story mode for all 16 fighters in less than 2 hours. There is also a survival mode which is the best single player experience this game currently has to offer. You can play in a 10, 30, 50, or 100 round match where you fight another opponent each round with the option to purchase items like a health or defense boost using points you earn from the fight. Playing through these survival modes is the way to unlock additional characters for your fighters. There is a huge glaring omission from the game, no arcade mode. There’s actually no way to play a single match against the computer at all. So the single player experience is very lacking. There is a story mode being released for free in June that is supposed to be comparable to the story mode from Mortal Kombat 9 which would be very welcome as the story more for that game was superb.
“Street Fighter V’s lackluster launch doesn’t do justice to this fantastic fighting game”
The worst part is Street Fighter V’s lackluster launch doesn’t do justice to this fantastic fighting game. Street Fighter has never felt so good before. Every character has been tweaked and/or reimagined in a way that makes every character feel pretty balanced. Unlike previous games where the characters a considered to be on different tiers, Street Fighter V’s fighters all feel like they could be competitive. The game runs at a flawless 60 fps, even when playing online and although the first couple of days had server issues, lag never seems to be a problem. Although a bunch of fan favorites are missing from the roster like Blanka and Sagat, the fighters that are included all fill a particular style. M Bison has been tweaked to play more as a close up fighter than the ranged attacks he was previously known for. Vega’s moves all use quarter and half circles instead of the charge moves that used to make him difficult to control. Even Chun Li’s signature lightning kicks use a down – forward – K to execute instead of rapidly hitting a kick button like in previous games. Another notable change is that there are no longer any single frame windows. They expanded this to 3 frames because according to a shoryuken.com interview “We don’t want them to fight the game, we want them to fight the other person”.
“We don’t want them to fight the game, we want them to fight the other person”
Even with all of the problems at release I am a fan of this game. I truly feel like it’s the best fighting game experience I’ve had. All of the characters are fun to play and their moves are easy to execute. I am eager to get the rest of the content, challenge mode was my favorite part of Street Fighter IV and I hope the challenge mode they make for this one is comparable.
I recommend the majority of players wait on this one though. If you are expecting any kind of enjoyable single player experience the full story mode will be released as a free update in June. Check out the story mode trailer below.
For the more serious players who want to get competitive, now’s the time to pick this up. It’s not perfect but you’ll be able to begin practicing with the revamped training mode that gives a bunch of new options for training mode like being able to change the training dummy’s position instantly using the touch pad. The new tweaks also level the playing field a little if you plan to enter a tournament. Not only were the fighters rebalanced but some of the moves were tweaked enough that even the pros need to practice a little. Just look at the video below of Lupe Fiasco defeat Daigo “The Beast” at a launch event in one of the worst upsets in the competitive fighting game scene.
A Rocky start for this fighter
I was tempted to score this game based on the experience the casual player would have but I have to score it well just because it really is so good at it's core. It's meant to be the main event game at tournaments and revitalize fighting games as an esport. As far as I'm concerned it succeeded. I'll warn again though, if you are expecting a good single player experience then you should wait on this until more content is added.