Should have been delayed until March.
I have been playing Street Fighter since 1993 when my local arcade got a cabinet for Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. I fell in love instantly, and lost so many quarters to that machine that I believe I would be a millionaire if I were to have kept them all. In recent years, I dropped close to 400 hours into all the different versions of Street Fighter IV, primarily using El Fuerte. I was good for a time, but that time has passed. So, throughout its legacy, I have been a giant fan of the series. It’s the fight game series for me; while others revolved around Tekken, Mortal Kombat, and The King of Fighters, I stuck to the trusty Street Fighter. It is a main staple in the fighting game scene, and one that practically every gamer knows. Obviously, with Street Fighter V coming out, everyone is all aboard the hype train. So was I to be honest. I was so ready for this game, and then I played it. I saw what it had to offer, and decided this game is not finished, and somehow Capcom feels justified to charge $60 for it.
Let’s start with the basics, Street Fighter V is a 1v1 fighting game where players choose a character to take on other opponents through local or online fights. Characters have special moves that can be executed through a certain motion of movement followed by hitting a certain attack button. Practically everyone knows how to throw a Hadouken – quarter circle forward + punch. Things like that. It can’t get any simpler.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Price I’d pay: $30 if the online worked
Pulling the V-Trigger.
One of the newest mechanics added to Street fighter V is the V-Skill and V-Trigger abilities. Each character has a V-Skill that can be activated by pressing medium punch and medium kick at the same time. Each character’s V-Skill is different – Ryu can parry certain attacks, R. Mika can nullify an attack while also buffing the power of her next grapple attack, Ken uses a run to close the gap on his opponents as well as extend combos in certain situations. It’s a complex system, and each character can use them to their advantage depending on the situation.
While using a character’s V-Skill, they begin to fill up their V-Trigger gauge. Pressing fierce punch and fierce kick together will activate the V-Trigger that adds even more to the combat. Chun-Li’s V-Trigger buffers the power of her attacks as well as adds more combo opportunities, Dhalsim will blow fire on the floor that will slowly burn the enemy for damage over time, and Nash can teleport on the fly with his V-Trigger to confuse and quickly counter an enemy’s attack.
The fighting itself feels faster paced than that of other iterations. Street Fighter V’s combat has a lot to do with being offensive. One of the good examples of this is the fact that players can no longer KO an opponent via chip damage unless they’re using a critical art (Street Fighter V’s equivalent to a super combo.) Utilizing the CA gauge for both critical arts as well as powered up EX moves remains true from past iterations of Street Fighter.
The window for combo opportunities also feels more open in SFV. This allows players to pull off some impressive links while not having to master the spot on timing that Street Fighter IV required. It adds even more to the fast paced flow of combat in this game and makes it a fun game to play overall.
Classic characters like Ryu, Cammy, and Ken make a return, while some newly added ones like Rashid, F.A.N.G. and Laura spice things up with their own feel and abilities. Rashid being the agile and rather confusing character has quickly turned into a possible main for me. They finally bring Charlie Nash back from the dead with a new Frankenstein’s monster look, and M. Bison has aged significantly. While only having 16 characters at launch, there is really something here for everyone. Granted, the original 25 characters in Street Fighter IV would have been nice as well.
Now comes the hard part.
While I can talk about how well done the fighting is and feels in SFV, the fact of the matter is, the entire package that is wrapped around the combat system is completely broken and unfinished. As Capcom stated a few days before the launch of the game, there were going to be a few things missing from the initial launch that is planned to be added in in March. The first one being the in game store where players will be able to purchase costumes and newly added characters with both real world money or the in game currency Fight Money. I can unlock costumes in the game via the story mode, but can’t use them because the store isn’t up yet.
Another thing missing from this launch package is an arcade mode. There is no arcade mode in this game. The only single player content available to play as of right now is a “story mode” that has two to four matches, each of which is one single round and players start off with full critical art and V-Trigger gauges. Also, the AI is dumb as a rock in this mode. I went through them all with each character within an hour. A full “hours long” story mode is coming in June of this year.
Then there’s the online play. Currently, players can take on others in both casual and ranked matches, if the servers are up and running. I deliberately held my review until after the game released to see if the servers would hold up. Currently at day 3 after launch, they are still very hit or miss. Sometimes I wait almost no time to get into a game with a random person, other times, I never get into one. It is a proverbial mess at the moment. Of course, I love playing Street Fighter with my friends so I can set up a lobby and invite them to private matches right? Well, only if you have one single friend because currently the game only supports two player “battle lounges.” Eight player lounges with spectator mode is coming in March. Another thing coming in March, eh? The kicker is having to try to do all this stuff online using the Capcom Fighting Network, where players must use their own special battle name and profile to invite friends into their games. Most times it never worked. I spent an entire hour sending a friend invites to my private lobby only to have him say he’s not getting any of the invites. That means there’s nothing we can do to possibly fix this.
Seriously, go back to the drawing board.
I guess it’s back to doing the single player content. But wait, there are only two real options – story mode that is one round matches where each “story” lasts upward of five minutes, or survival mode that is only one round where I can wager points to get health back or fill my CA meter. Well, I guess I could do the training mode to learn the combos for my characters. But the training mode here is only with a dummy. The challenge mode much like the one in Street Fighter IV is coming in March as well. Well what is there to do if I can’t get the online to work? Well, that’s pretty much it. I can’t stress this enough – there is no way to play a standard three round match versus the AI in Street Fighter V. What insane world is this?
On top of all that, small things like a clunky menu system and the fact that there is no character select screen before ranked or casual matches online really add to the frustrations in the entire experience. It feels broken in spots, incomplete in far more, and rushed overall. Now, I know I come off as someone who is bashing the game. I’m not, but it breaks my heart to see this game in this state. To see one of my all time favorite franchises turn into this mess of a game.
In its current state, I cannot recommend you spend $60 on this title. It is honestly not finished by any means. I understand that Capcom has promised many things to come in free updates, but if that is the case, maybe they should have waited until March to release the full game. The online is far too spotty, and the single player content is a joke currently. Don’t get me wrong, the game play itself is fantastic. The combo system mixed with the critical arts and V-Triggers really makes for a fast, flashy, and fun fighting game experience, but when it is surrounded by poor online connectivity and a single player that is both boring and doesn’t really help with learning the game, it makes for a difficult time to actually get into. I’m am deeply saddened to say a game that should have been a shoe-in for my top 10 games of the year as quickly become one of my biggest disappointments of the year. Hopefully, after a few updates and some online stability patches, this game will be a shining example of a great fighting game. Until then, it is a mess and a half and one that I wouldn’t spend $60 on.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.