In case you haven’t heard, Street Fighter V (SFV) is a solid installment in the long running series despite launching with minimal amounts of content. The graphics and animation are incredibly smooth and colorful, achieving a painting like quality that causes my eyes to bleed each time I pull off any given character’s super move. More importantly the gameplay is what we’ve come to expect from a series that’s been virtually perfect since it took the arcades (remember those?) by storm 25 years ago.
Capcom’s decision to launch SFV with so little content is perplexing to say the least. Anyone looking for a traditional arcade mode harkening back to the days of old will be disappointed. The single player components include story, survival, and training modes. Story mode offers 3-4 single round battles against the AI with cutscenes interspersed between matches to give you some insight into the character’s motives and the intertwining relationships they have with one another. Survival is the ultimate test of player skill pitting you against up to 100 AI characters depending on the difficulty chosen. Training is hardly a “single player” component but nonetheless it’s there for you to hone your skills with your character of choice. Considering the lack of content at the moment, chances are good that you’ll be spending a lot of time there once you’ve completed the aforementioned story and survival modes.
Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room—is SFV worth full price ($60)? Does the majority of your time spent on fighters happen online or off? If you answered online then it’s a no brainer, SFV is just as good as any Street Fighter before it in terms of gameplay and online competition. So if you’re not interested in being a punching bag like I am just to improve your skills and would rather have more offline options, then maybe it’s best to wait a while. For those that take the plunge you’ll be treated to 16 characters, both new and old, each of which bring something different to the table in terms of strategy and style. Players will feel right at home with series’ staples Ryu and Ken, while newcomers like Necalli and FANG offer completely different tools to use in a match.
Capcom is trying a new sales model that will provide players with continuous free updates over the course of the game’s lifespan. This ensures that the SFV player community won’t be fragmented by any future release of say, “Super Street Fighter V Hyper Edition.” New DLC characters will also be part of the free updates which players can either buy up front with real cash or unlock via the in-game’s currency earned by playing through the various game modes. It’s a good balance that should reward those with the time to invest while also allowing more casual players to just buy the content they really want to have right away.
There’s no hiding the fact that Capcom is catering to the tournament scene with SFV, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With Street Fighter IV (and all of it’s subsequent incarnations) Capcom created the most successful fighting game ever made resulting in huge turnouts for tournaments like the Evolution Championship Series. Despite a lack of any real tutorial mode in SFV, the Capcom Fighter’s Network (CFN) provides an online hub where you can meet other players and access replays of other player’s matches. Sure you could just go to Youtube and watch any uploaded video you want, but with CFN you can save replays to review at any time. This is invaluable to anyone, including myself, that mostly learns these games through observation. Having a hard time beating R. Mika players? Can’t seem to understand why you’re not hitting that combo right? Jump on CFN and see what other players are doing to solve those issues you’re having. It’s a really great tool for the community that I hope Capcom continues to build on.
Short of the “missing” content in SFV, this entry in the series is superb. V-Skills and V-Triggers provide more unique elements to each character to further distinguish them from one another and the game looks fantastic. The jump to 3D models in Street Fighter 4 never felt right to me, but SFV’s visuals get it right with incredibly smooth and vibrant animations on display here. While the choice to release the game in it’s current state may seem bizarre, the promise of continuous free updates and DLC makes it easier to stomach. There’s no debating the solid gameplay being offered either, and no matter what level of Street Fighter player you are, you will almost certainly enjoy this game.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be keeping tabs on all future updates and posting my thoughts on the state of the game as they roll out new features. Let me know in the comments below what you think of SFV and how you feel about it’s approach to providing content. Be sure to check out my Youtube videos of Street Fighter V and come watch me stream on Twitch at twitch.tv/valhallax27