Review: Street Fighter V
It’s been 7 years since the first version of Street Fighter IV came out, followed every two years by a more reconciled version to end it in 2014 with Ultra Street Fighter IV. With over four versions (Vanilla, Super, Arcade Edition, Ultra) released of the previous opus, Capcom has lost some of the players along the way, tired of this trade policy and gameplay mechanics rehashed to the core. It’s not until the official announcement of Street Fighter V back in December 2014, and the approach of EVO and Capcom Pro Tour 2016, that the Osaka company had to refresh their favorite fighting game, before failing to catch the attention to its remaining fans.
The challenge is ambitious even for its main producer, Yohinori Ono, the one leading the series since the fourth installment, and Street Fighter V must become a staple of eSports, while uniting a disperse community that switch to more modern and newer titles. And so comes our review of this Street Fighter V, noting that it was done after the patch 1.01 (a painful 6GB to download on top of the game’s initial 12GB), and in view of the final result, I ask myself if Street Fighter V didn’t haste its release.
Let’s get immediately in the thick of it, and what makes the soul of Street Fighter: gameplay. If the basics are always the same, which will allow anyone who ever played any of the previous games to feel at home, several aspects have changed dramatically. The most visible change compared to Street Fighter IV is the disappearance of the “Ultra Meter”. A technique that was consider unequal, because all the characters had the same capacity, its impact was more or less important depending on the fighter. The Ultra Meter is here replaced by a mechanic, called “V-Gauge”: A red gauge that builds up by linking attacks, blocking, receiving hits and will open 3 new mechanics called V-Skills, V-Reversals, and V-Triggers.
With the same button layout that the focus had in Street Fighter IV, V-Skill is unique to each character, and can be defensive or offensive. For example, Ryu’s V-Skill will parry an attack (like in the days of Street Fighter 3: Third Strike), Ken has a dash, Chun-Li an air dash, Cammy uses her Axel Spin Knuckle and so on. By giving each character a unique blow adapted to the way of playing it, Street Fighter V is substantially out of Street Fighter V system and approaching other productions of the fighting systems like Arc System Works Guilty Gear or other titles where each fighter is unique in its roster.
The second skill is called “V-Trigger”. With the use of a complete set of the V-Gauge (2 or 3 containers depending on fighter and the power of its skills), is as well unique to each character. Most of the time, it will be a temporary buff, allowing you to hit harder, to have access to more powerful versions of special attacks, but also unlock new combos, and some characters stand in stark contrast from the rest the roster: the Nash V-Trigger is a teleport, Vega’s a powerful horizontal attack, but the most original in my opinion one is Dhalsim’s, who will be able to ignite the ground before him to defend himself.
Third and final mechanical associated with this V-Gauge, and in my opinion the most interesting is the V-Reversal.It will allow you to block an opponent hit, and counter attack. Each character has its own counter, and if its use requires training and precision, this mechanism will surely allow a lot of players to get out of harm or being cornered on the screen. This is not the first time that counters appeared in the Street Fighter series, but unlike against the Alpha Counter of Street Fighter Alpha and co, you’ll have to sacrifice a bar of your V-Gauge (a bit like Mortal Kombat X).
These three V-Gauge related mechanics promise very tactical confrontations with strategic choices about how to use its gauge, whether on the defensive or offensive front. But these are not the only changes to the game system. The EX Attacks, the more powerful versions of the basic ones, are still in the game in exchange for a third of the gauge, and Super are renamed “Critical Art” in total agreement with the paint streaks that emerge by the special moves.
Another small detail that we will very quickly notice is in the life bar: when you block a basic attack, medium or high, you will notice a gray area highlighted. If you manage to not get hit, that grey area regenerates damage into green health. However, if you take more hits, you lose this gray area in addition to the damage suffered by that last blow! Finally, you should know that it you can’t chip someone to death anymore, and the only way to beat an opponent is with a Critical Art. This change promises for more exciting round, so we don’t end up with a game ending because of a missed blocked attack.
And you know what ? I haven’t told you about the change of possible combos, and many other things… Everything you just read is only the visible part of the iceberg! And therein lies all the strength of Street Fighter V.I cannot still complete this part of the gameplay without speaking of the 16 fighters available at launch.
With twelve Street Fighters elders, we are in familiar territory, but there’s so many changes. Ken stands out even more than Ryu, with a more aggressive attacking style. The technique of 1,000 feet from Chun-Li is no longer difficult to pull off, but with a simple quarter circle. R.Mika is paired with a tag team partners, even if it’s here purely cosmetic. Or even Dalshim’s Yoga Flame and Critical Art become anti-air moves, in association with the V-trigger I mentioned above.
With twelve Street Fighters elders, we are in familiar territory, but there’s so many changes
The new kids are very interesting and bring a breath of fresh air. Laura is a little spiritual daughter of Blanka, a Matsuda Jiu-Jitsu fighter (fictional martial art inspired by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), with projectile attacks and a Critical Power Art that is extremely different from the green monster, with shots based chopper. Rashid on the other hand was designed to appeal to the Middle East public, for the sake of globalization, with wind-themed attacks. Necalli certainly will serve as the final boss in future games, and F.A.N.G. is a real odd bird, with unconventional fighting style, and also introduce a new mechanism in Street Fighter: poisoning.
This launch roster seems solid and balanced. While it is too early to talk about the match-up of the title, we can be satisfied with the work done by Capcom (who can be trusted to correct any abuses that may be uncovered over time). I should note that almost all the characters are equipped with projectile techniques, and that their effectiveness has been reduced, which forces the player to seek confrontation in combat in opposition to how we were used to see Street Fighter IV matches going.
So what about the graphics? The first thing that jumps out when launching the game on console is the similarities with Street Fighter IV. The characters kept their “cartoonish” appearance with oversized feet and hands. Although I may not like the art direction, I must admit that it is extremely well done, with anime tones applied to the fighters, and streaks of paints splashing on the screen with every special shots. But the game is not as nice as other titles already out on PlayStation 4, and this is explained by the fact that, for the eSport and competitive factor, Street Fighter V needed to reach a constant 60FPS framerate without fail (which it fills brilliantly its specifications). The graphical gap is very pronounced when compared to Street Fighter IV, with character animations that are more realistic but it still doesn’t compare graphically to other fighting games like Mortal Kombat X.
On the topic of the PC version. By Mazen Abdallah
Street Fighter is definitely aiming for better hardware this time around. However, if you have decent gear, it won’t disappoint. I went for several practice matches and played through a bunch of story missions (no arcade, sadly) and I didn’t have any FPS drops.
The multiplayer wasn’t great, and I was dealing with the occasional disconnect and long waits to find an opponent. It was lag city on my very modest connection, so I imagine you’ll want to skip it if you’re looking for online play and you don’t have a beefy connection.
In terms of optimization, there really isn’t that much. PC graphics options are almost non-existent, and your only real option on lower hardware is to enable ‘low-spec’ mode and run a less intensive version of the game. Oh and you’ll need a controller to play the game, as I was unable to use keyboard (I mean that’s kind of a given)
Now what would a fighting game be without today’s industry online game prerequisites? Not much. In fact, it’s being able to string together fights against other players around the world which makes all the hype of this game and many triggers of adrenaline in the brain for the player, prompting him to seek it again and again. But the online servers of Street Fighter V aren’t a success, with lag like no other games, unstable net code and so much time to find an opponent no matter what region you pick. Fortunately, the game lets you avoid this situation by informing you of your opponent’s connection quality before select. The search for challengers is also at the forefront of what is currently done in the fighting game scene, with an option that allows you to find matches while you are in any menu, singleplayer, training, or even replay watch mode.
More experienced players will be happy with the addition of the CFN (Capcom Fighters Network), showing the importance of the competitive effort and the community aspect in the game, as well as checking the ranking of your rivals and their match replays. This will allow you to follow top players, download all their replays and watch their combos frame by frame, displaying the inputs on the screen, for you to learn and perfect your own skill-set (but note that there’s no live spectator mode, which is a shame).
The story mode changed, and instead of offering you a traditional eight fights punctuated by a final boss, it’s reduced to 2 or 3 fights per character, consisting of a single round without “disclaimer” at the beginning! At this point, one wonders if this is a joke, but no, there’s more. Like most players wanting more of the game, without playing online, I decided to switch to Player Vs AI mode, with the basic rules and best of 3 rounds, and that’s when I discover that it’s unavailable. To continue in the negative, the “Challenge” mode and Shop is present on the home screen, but currently inaccessible, as if Capcom is trying to tease us or painfully anger us.
Without AI matches, the shortest story mode to date and no arcade mode, what is left? Well, a rather interesting survival mode, where you will be able to choose temporary bonus in exchange for score points, to facilitate the next fight. Simple but effective. But also a real training mode that, for once, is one of the most complete that I have ever seen. You can adjust all the details you want, position your opponent as you wish to work on your combo, and a touch of the touchpad reset this position again.
Nevertheless, Capcom has promised to expand the game modes in the coming months. But why, in this desire to unite the public around the eSport, the focus has been on the online features for regular players? The majority of casual gamers are left out with this launch, which may disappoint many, and defeat, at first, these unifying two public so different. At least, Street Fighter V will be the only version of the game, with no planned re-release, and will keep on getting enhanced by patches.
So in March 2016, you will have access to the shop, to online lobbies of 8 players and the challenge mode, which will include tips, combo challenges and unique boss fights, as well as a new fighter, Alex . On that note, 6 newcomers will join the roster throughout the first 7 months of the game lifecycle, and it will be possible to buy them with money earned in-game (who knows at what price?), or via a season pass sold for $30. Knowing Capcom, a second season pass will also most likely appeared in 2017, and so on every year, although this is pure speculation.
Street Fighter V was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 and PC downloadable code of the full game provided by Capcom. The PC version was tested on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM and written by Mazen Abdallah. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via retail and digital release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• The more accessible gameplay for casual gamers.
• The depth of gameplay for veterans.
• Much less elitist than Street Fighter IV.
• The Capcom Fighters Online Network.
• Constant 60 FPS on console and decent PC.
• Animations of the characters.
• The visual gap with SFIV.
• The ability to plug your PS3 arcade sticks
• The promise to purchase new characters without paying real money.
• A Day one patch of nearly 6GB.
• No extra PC graphics settings to play around with
• Still requires a decent PC to reach 60FPS
• The lack of singleplayer content at launch.
• No versus mode against AI is unnaceptable.
• No arcade mode planned within the next 7 months.
• The perfect example of a game sold in pieces.
• Fix those online servers please!
• A joke of a story mode