Game Review: Street Fighter V (PS4)

Street Fighter has been a staple in the history of competitive fighting games for decades. Each consecutive iteration of the franchise has introduced new features, new fighters and new fighting mechanics to keep the series fresh. Sadly, the lack of almost any modes in Street Fighter V doesn’t quite do the brand justice and while new modes and features are on the way for free, what we have here now is a bare bones game that leans heavy into its online battles.

Should you not have Sony’s Online requirement: PlayStation Plus, then you’ll be left in the cold for now. Offline players have a blink-before-its-over story mode and survival mode, where you’ll battle a finite supply of CPU opponents at various difficulties. Should you have a friend and a second controller, then you get the standard vs mode, which strangely lacks any vs CPU feature. This is all the offline player has available to them for now. More modes, including a robust story mode is expected to be released this June, for free.

For those that like a bit of Player vs Player, then you’ll have your standard offline and online battles. The fights I experienced had a little lag here and there, and I have a few dropped matches, but I’d say I had more matches go through fine than not. You can participate in Ranked matches that earn you League Points, which also relates to how you will be ranked. If you don’t want to worry about the League Points, then a straight Casual mode is available as well. You can also use ‘Network Match Fight Request’ to find other players for Ranked and Casual matches while playing other modes. One of Capcom’s newest features to Street Fighter V is the CFN: Capcom Fighters Network. This allows you to look up rivals, check replays and see your overall worldwide rank.

Street Fighter V introduces some new systems that still feel a bit familiar. If you are a button masher like myself, then you should feel right at home as pulling off special attacks is brilliantly easy this time around. The V-system is made up of 3 basic mechanics that are built upon the V-Gauge, and this will fill up as you take damage.

These mechanics are:

V-Skill: Each character has a unique skill that can be accessed by pressing Medium Kick and Medium Punch at the same time. This ability is either defensive, offensive or affects your movement. Nash, for example will absorb any projectile that is fired his way, and if close enough to the opponent, he will take a bit of their health.

V-Trigger: Much like V-Skills, these are unique to each fighter. You’ll press Heavy Punch and Heavy Kick together this time to gain access to these abilities. These can easily change the flow of the match in your favor. Chun-Li for example, will hit more times than usual, where M. Bison will see a change to his Dash attack, allowing him to dash through projectiles and attacks. He also gains some teleporting abilities as well making him truly difficult to beat. It’s up to you to utilize these attacks as they are more of a defensive or offensive ability than a special move.

V-Reversal: This ability is as advertised as it allows you to counter the attack of an opponent while blocking.

The EX attack system is back and this is where you will use the segments of this bar at the bottom to perform your special attacks. Your EX gauge will gain more power the more attacks you land on your opponent.

Street Fighter and its characters have never looked better as Capcom has given us a gorgeous fighter here. Each character is beautifully detailed and has some solid animations within. A few returning favorites like Dhalsim and Ken are back with completely new designs. The effects and special moves look great and have some bright and colorful effects alongside them. The story mode that is here, of which I’ll talk about soon, features hand drawn stills from acclaim Capcom artist Bengus. While his art was fantastic years ago back when any Street Fighter artwork you saw related to the game was probably his, his work here leaves a bit to be desired. Some of the art here is great, but most of it looks like quick sketches that had a little bit of clean up. Some fighters, like Laura, don’t even come close to resembling their in game fighter. It’s a shame they didn’t get UDON, the publisher who make the Street Fighter comics, to do some artwork here. While I am a huge fan of Bengus, his work here is disappointing to say the least.

The brief story mode that is included is over before you know it. Each fighter has anywhere from 3-5 fights that are one round long against CPU opponents that pretty much walk up to you to be hit or thrown. Within an hour I had more than half the characters at 100% story completion. You’ll unlock a costume for that fighter after you beat it, but are unable to use it as the store isn’t up till March. You also cannot change the story mode difficulty and should you want to just see the cut-scenes, you can skip the match through the pause menu. You’ll earn Fighter Points as you progress through various modes and level up your fighters. These points are used within the Street Fighter store that is part of the upcoming March update. Alex, the game’s first DLC character will be able to be purchased with those points. Capcom has stated that completing the story mode with each fighter will give you at least enough points to get him for free.

Out of the 16 characters in total, 12 are returning from various entries in the Street Fighter series, while 4 of them make their first appearance here. F.A.N.G., Rashid, Laura and Necalli are fresh faces to the veteran cast here and while I really enjoy Rashid and Laura, I haven’t found my groove with the other 2. I wish the cast had been bigger considering the amount of time¬†this game has had in development and what we got at launch. My favorites, Juri and Crimson Viper sit this one out, for now. Cammy, a personal favorite of mine, is back and plays just as good as ever. Ryu, Ken, Dhalsim, Zangief and Chun-li play just like you remember, as does the popular villains M. Bison, Vega and Birdie. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Nash, Karin and R. Mika. Each character will have a variety of costumes, but these are currently unavailable. You can unlock more color variations through Survival mode.

Despite the slim offerings here, Street Fighter V is what it should be, a solid fighting game. The story mode is mildly entertaining, but far too short to really stand out. While there is new content coming out in the next few months, you may or may not find enough here to justify the purchase. If you don’t play online, then the content available to you is dwarfed even more so. I did enjoy my time with Street Fighter V and its wonderful cast of characters and deep rewarding fighting system, but I don’t see myself sticking with this title until the new features drop this March and June. If you can hold off until all the upcoming features are available, then you’ll come into this title at its very best, but if you can’t wait that long to get your Street Fighter fix, then you’ll at least have a good time, albeit a short one.

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