Few series are as associated with a genre as much as Street Fighter is with fighting games. For many people, Capcom’s signature series is fighting games. With such a pedigree behind it, this leads to high expectations for Street Fighter V. After all, it’s the first numbered installment since 2008, and it’s not often that fighting fans get to celebrate a significant release in the iconic franchise.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Street Fighter V is the best playing game in the entire series. The gameplay has never felt this tight, and the new mechanics add additional layers of complexity to the combat while still being accessible to new players. It builds upon the highly successful Street Fighter IV formula with two new mechanics that really add to the combat, and make the action feel fresh.
Each of the 16 fighters now has access to both a V-Skill and a V-Trigger. V-Skills are a new move that can be performed at any time by simply hitting both of the medium attack buttons. These can range from a parry type defensive move like Ryu has to an offensive attack. V-Skills typically don’t change the flow of a battle, but they do add an additional skill to the mix for each character. They’re also easy to use thanks to the input method, so players won’t have to memorize a move combination to trigger them.
V-Triggers, on the other hand, are absolutely a game changer. To use this powerful new mechanic, players will have to fill up a V-Gauge by either successfully attacking enemies with V-Skills or taking damage. I’ll let you figure out which way is more optimal. Once it’s full, players can use their V-Trigger by hitting both hard attacks at the same time.
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Each character has a different V-Trigger, and they can range from powerful attack to a temporary power-up. Ryu, for example, gains an extra oomph to his punch attacks when his new ability is in effect. He can also charge up hadoken attacks, adding a new dimension to his signature projectile. More powerful V-Triggers, such as Ken’s Heat Rush, will take longer to build-up. So, not only are these new mechanics balanced, but they can instantly change the way a battle is going.
You’ll get acquainted with each of the 16 character’s V-Skills and V-Triggers in Street Fighter V‘s story mode. The mode, which actually starts off with a very well-done tutorial that does a good job of introducing the mechanics to those new to the genre, allows players to go through a short story involving their selected character. It’s a cool concept, but considering most of the stories only consist of three short battles, it ends up being over right when it gets going.
If you’re looking for something robust, you’ll be sadly disappointed. The mode is really supposed to serve as a prologue of sorts to the game’s “cinematic story expansion” that is coming in June. Yes, instead of the actual story mode launching alongside the game, you’ll have to wait until June to check it out.
Sadly, this isn’t the only part of the game that people will have to wait for. The challenge mode that adorns the main menu isn’t able to be selected either, as it won’t be added until March. An online spectator mode is also set to be added “after launch,” and daily challenges are also supposedly coming next month. A lot of the features of Street Fighter V are just not in the game right now, which is incredibly disappointing.
Nothing demonstrates how rushed of a product Street Fighter V is though better than the lack of an arcade mode. Yes, you read that right. Street Fighter, arguably the most iconic arcade game ever, does not have an arcade mode. I’m not sure how this oversight happened, considering the game already has 10 CPU skill levels in place, but it did. In fact, since players can’t even battle computer-controlled opponents in the game’s versus mode, the only other single-player mode is a survival mode.
The survival mode is actually pretty interesting at first, but soon reveals itself as half-baked as the product itself. Like the name suggests, the player’s health bar remains the same after each consecutive battle. Interestingly, you can purchase power-ups, ranging from health refills to temporary stat boosts, before the next battle. It’s a fun concept, but one that is sadly ruined by the requirements of the mode.
While the easy mode consists of a modest 10 fights, normal is bumped up to 30. Yes, you’ll have to play 30 battles in a row since you can’t save and continue at a later time. Even more ridiculous are the requirements for hard and hell mode which have the player undergoing 50 and 100 battles, respectively. Despite loving the gameplay in Street Fighter V, I started to grow bored after 20+ battles of using the same character.
It’s not only damning that Street Fighter V only launched with 2 different single-player modes, but that both of them are disappointing. Story mode and survival are good ideas, but neither were executed very well as the former is over shortly after it begins, and the latter drags on. This means that unless you have friends over quite often, you’ll be spending 99% of your time online.
While there aren’t many online modes (you can choose from either ranked play or casual matches), the netcode performed flawlessly. I didn’t experience any lag in my dozens of online matches. You can also create your own private matches, or battle lounges as the game calls them. You can only invite one friend to these lounges, though, as this feature (like most of the game) is going to be expanded “after launch.”
I have no doubt that Street Fighter V will end up being a great title, I just wish it was a great title upon launch, and not later this year. There’s no reason for such an iconic series to receive such a rushed release. It only serves to damage the brand, and the omissions are borderline embarrassing. While Street Fighter V is a game that has 5-star gameplay, it unfortunately only has 1-star worth of content.
Street Fighter V is easily the fighting title I’ve had the most fun playing in my 20 years of gaming, and that’s why the overall package is such a disappointment. Instead of getting a feature complete, content filled package, we’re instead left with a bare bones offering that doesn’t even have the basics of the genre. The gameplay is phenomenal, with the enhancements being a natural progression of the series, but you have so few ways to experience it and for that reason, I find it difficult to recommend picking it up at this time.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version, which we were provided with.
Don't let the score fool you, Street Fighter V's gameplay is phenomenal. What isn't so hot though is the completely rushed game that surrounds it.