After almost seven full years of Street Fighter IV releases, we have finally arrived at a true sequel in this long-running series, Street Fighter V. With a new plan for DLC announced by Capcom, this is apparently the only copy of the game that you will need to buy. But is it worth your investment, or did the Street Fighter series plateau back in its 2D days?
This is one of the prettiest fighters I’ve ever seen. SFV runs on the Unreal Engine 4, presented in that crisp, cel-shaded hybrid look that the series is known for. I don’t recall ever seeing the game stutter, either, unlike when the Street Fighter series last made an appearance on the PlayStation 4. Stages are highly detailed, with plenty of action going on in the background, and even some environmental interaction if you can manage to knock out an opponent near the side of the level. Fighter character models are also of a nice detail, though the game’s hair physics can get occasionally wonky. Overall, this is a clean, consistently high-caliber experience in terms of presentation.
Street Fighter V isn’t all beauty and no brains, though. While the Critical Arts, or CA bar, is carried over from past iterations, the Ultra moves from SFIV Ultra are gone, with a new V-Gauge taking their place. This should not be cause for concern, though; you get three new tactics to utilize. The V-Gauge is two-tiered, and introduces new mechanics, with some of these new moves serving as buffers. V-Skills are unique to each character, V-Reversals are very powerful counters, and V-Triggers use up your entire V-Gauge in order to perform a new special attack.
Combat hasn’t really changed. This is a fighting game — control schemes are all but locked-in at this point. The aforementioned V-Gauge moves are triggered via the shoulder buttons, so aside from that there’s nothing really new to learn. Your favorite arcade stick will likely work if it worked on Ultra, as well. Control lag appears to be non-existent, so if you can’t get a combo in you likely only have yourself to blame.
Unfortunately, as of press time the online functionality is not working..at all. Upon attempting to even boot up the game, we are currently being greeted with an error code, 2002a. Capcom is supposedly working on a fix, and has apologized to everybody upset with the current state of things, but we must move on with the review. Sadly, online reliability is always a concern with any high-profile release these days. We will update you if the situation changes, but as of right now you’ll have to get your competitive fix in Street Fighter V offline. Versus is exactly as you’d expect, with two players able to duke it out in a best-of series, where you can set some rules such as match and series length, pick a stage, and use any costumes that you’ve unlocked in other modes.
Capcom finally introduced a story mode, but much like the rest of the game it feels like this is a preview of larger ideas that the developer may have had. You can play through a story for each of the 16 characters that ship with the game. One of SFV’s trophies is entitled “Quantity Over Quality,” and that seems to be an apt description of story mode. Each campaign, you see, consists of three to four chapters, and three (sometimes two!) single-round matches. Do not expect to spend more than two hours in Story Mode before you’ve finished the entire thing. The default difficulty level in Story Mode is also ridiculously easy, in stark contrast to even the easiest mode in SFIV. This may be a bid from Capcom to ease casual fans into the game, but it’s so laughably easy that I can’t imagine anyone having trouble clearing each campaign on their first try.
This story mode does at least include four characters. F.A.N.G is a poison fist fighter turned M. Bison subservient, who fights in a bizarre, part bird-like manner. Laura is a voluptuous Brazilian who is looking to make a name for her fighting style, Matsuda Jiu-Jitsu. Necalli is an ancient warrior, who has even more power than M. Bison, at a large expense to speed. Also, terrifying hair. Finally, Rashid is an Internet-addicted man from wealth in the Middle East who is looking for a missing friend. Of these four campaigns, Laura and Necalli’s are the least substantial, though as mentioned before, none are very long — blink and you might miss a cutscene!
A glaring omission in SFV is the lack of an Arcade Mode. This seems to be a staple in every fighting game since the dawn of, well, the arcade! There is a survival mode, which allows you to tackle wave after wave of enemies in single-round bouts. In between rounds, you are given the option to use a battle supplement, which cost points that you earned in your previous fights. These can vary from refilling your persistent health bar, to increasing attack strength, and the ever-risky Double Down, wherein your health is severely depleted, or your stun bar is maxed out, but the score you’ll receive for winning the round will be doubled or tripled. These supplements are a unique mechanic that throws some strategy into the mode. Still, nothing can truly replace the classic Arcade Mode, and its absence is sorely felt for single players.
Street Fighter V feels like a gigantic tease for the hardcore fans of the franchise. If Capcom can stay true to their word, however, then it sounds like this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’ll feel strange playing a fighting game for hours on end in order to unlock a character, which is a sad statement of the current state of the video game industry. Short campaigns and a lack of meaty content aside, the important part of this fighting game, namely, the combat, is solid. Yet the net code, at least at launch, is not stable. With the lack of fighting game basics such as a proper Arcade Mode, Street Fighter V feels like an appetizer, rather than the main course that it should be as a numbered entry in a venerable franchise. Capcom’s DLC plans also leave some questions up in the air: will the pricing be fair with the game’s “free” currency, or is it going to be more like a freemium game? Can they really deliver the planned content on-time? As of the time of this review, Street Fighter V is a showcase of potential, but little else.
Street Fighter V review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.