Since Street Fighter 2 came out in 1991, no other fighting game has built a reputation like it. Its characters, mechanics, and style are etched into the mind of every fighting game player around. For years it has been the king of competitive fighting games, but still has its casual fans. So does Street Fighter V continue this legacy? Or does it cater only to the enthusiasts?
The core fighting is fantastic, with both subtle and not so subtle changes for players to learn. The biggest change is getting rid of Focus Attacks from Street Fighter 4, for the new V-System. The way the V-System work is there are three kinds of moves. V-Trigger which fills a gauge as you fight. When it is full, your character gets a power up or special move that drains the gauge. For example, when Ryu uses his V-Trigger his attacks are stronger, stagger more, and he can charge his fireball to break through an opponent’s block. Then there is V-Skill, which is unique to each character and can be used any time by pressing medium punch and medium kick. Learning to use the V-Skill correctly is key because it help you charge your gauge for the V-Trigger. Using Ryu as an example again, his V-Skill is that he can parry an attack. If you parry an attack at the right time it can leave you opponent wide open for a counter attack, while having the added benefit of charging your V-Trigger to unleash later in the match. Finally there is V-Reversal, which you activate by blocking and hitting all three punch buttons. V-Reversal is used to get you out of tough situations when you are being pressured or locked in a corner blocking. The V-Reversal will typically knock an opponent down or back in order to give you some breathing room. Similar to V-Trigger and V-Skill, it is unique to each character and will take some time to master.
The V-System is just a small part of a very deep fighting system. Street Fighter V encourages strong fundamentals like not jumping because every character has an anti-air attack, setting up big combos with the V-System, and managing your meter correctly. These are all simple concepts that require a lot of time to learn through trial and error.
As for the character roster, it’s solid. There are eight classic fighters, four long absent fan favorites, and four brand new characters. The new characters are all a lot of fun with some really unique mechanics like F.A.N.G’s poison. Then there are the returning fighters, some of which play how you remember like Ryu, Cammy, and Bison. While others have gone through some big changes, like Ken and Zangief. Every fighter is unique with a lot to learn that will keep even Street Fighter veterans busy for a long time.
My only problem with the roster is that it is small. Considering Street Fighter 4 came out seven years ago and launched with 25 fighters. A roster with 16 fighters looks sad in comparison. There are six DLC fighters that are supposed to be out by the end of the year that you can earn for free, but as of right now the roster is really thin, even if there aren’t any clones.
This brings me to the biggest problem with Street Fighter V: a lack of content. There is no arcade mode, no time attack, no challenges of any kind, and story mode for each fighter is at longest four fights. If you are a fan of single player Street Fighter there is nothing but survival and training modes. There isn’t even a single player versus mode. The tutorial makes this even worse, expecting new players to jump straight into online with no concept of how to do anything beyond moving and basic attacks. With all these missing features it’s almost surprising the game features support for fightsticks from the previous generation of consoles.
The online is almost as bad, with no lobbies, poor matchmaking, and no penalty for quitting ranked matches. Then you have the quality of the custom Capcom net code which is wildly inconsistent, especially compared with the GGPO net code used by other fighting games.
It’s so strange these issues exist when the presentation is so polished. This game looks gorgeous on PC and PS4. With great animations, beautiful character models, and backgrounds. The music is superb, though I do prefer the remixes of older tracks over the new ones. Over all the presentation is fantastic which actually makes the missing content all the more disappointing.
Street Fighter V is a game for hardcore fighting game fans. The core fighting and the additions to it are fantastic. This might be the best fighting system in Street Fighter history. Not only that the games presentation is stunning. All of this is why it saddens me to say the rest of the game is a mess. There is so much missing content, the online works most, but not all of the time, and the game isn’t going to have most of its single player content or a good chunk of its roster until mid-way through the year. If you love fighting games and Street Fighter in-particular pick this up;you will have a blast. However, if you are a more casual fan and don’t have friends to show you the ropes, wait until the game is finished.
Final Score: 7.5/10