Review: Street Fighter V (PS4)

2016 Golden Minecart Awards:

  • Best Fighting Game (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Title: Street Fighter V
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (23.14 GB)
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom / Dimps
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Returning to the Street Fighter arena was a bittersweet experience. Street Fighter II was my first time with an arcade fighting game, and quite honestly it’s always been a favorite, with the Soul Calibur games coming in a close second.

With all the hype surrounding Street Fighter V, my curiosity was piqued. The screenshots looked amazing, the footage I watched was equally impressive, and from what I could tell, the game would feel familiar to an old vet who hadn’t touched the series in a few years.

It was an absolute relief to take the controller and immediately feel at home. I was able to control my favorite characters with ease and execute old combos, and most importantly, access timing attacks that were literally engraved into my muscle memory.

Unfortunately, after going through the initial tutorial with Ryu, I found myself looking for certain modes that were simply not available. Initially I thought that they needed to be unlocked, but after playing for a few more hours I was disappointed to discover that they simply did not exist, making this Street Fighter feel somewhat incomplete, despite its fantastic execution.

STREET FIGHTER V_20160216203508

Gameplay:
The core gameplay in Street Fighter V felt immediately familiar. As a Chun Li fan for over twenty years, it literally took minutes to jump back into the action and execute some of her classic moves upon the CPU throughout an extremely brief story mode. Seriously, I actually thought I had missed something, as her story revolved around her trying to arrest Vega and it was over after a few battles.

I should explain that my method of playing Street Fighter (or any other fighting game for that matter) is to go through the Arcade (Story) Mode, starting with a normal setting, and working my way to the toughest difficulty in order to train myself against the computer.

… Story Mode was brief …
Back in the day, that was my only way to prepare myself for arcade matches. Now, in the semi-advent of online competition, access to human competition is more readily available but I still like to hone my skills against the computer since the most difficult settings on Arcade Mode tended to be pretty brutal.

Alas, Street Fighter V has no Arcade Mode. And the previously mentioned Story Mode was brief and didn’t allow for much tweaking in terms of difficulty, although it did grant me some experience points and in game currency. Thus, before going online, I paid a visit to the “Survival Mode”.

Spending points your earn in Survival Mode helps you last longer.

Spending points your earn in Survival Mode helps you last longer.

Survival Mode pits you against combatants in a one-round-wins match. As you plow through increasingly difficult competitors, you are awarded points that can be saved or spent after each match. These points can be used to replenish your health since it does not normally recover after each battle in Survival Mode, boost defense, and a number of other perks. I found this mode to be a decent method of catching up with the game’s mechanics, though not a replacement for a true Arcade Mode.

According the Capcom, more modes will be released throughout the year and they will all be available for free. Additional characters and such can also be earned by playing the game, in addition to using real money. In fact, completing each character’s story mode will earn you enough “fight money” to afford the first post launch character.

… familiarity is essential …
Learning about this was quite a relief in that I absolutely hate post release content that could have easily been included in the disc. And while I would have preferred a complete game from the get-go, I applaud Capcom for offering in-game options for purchasing post launch characters. Hell, you can even earn content in the single-player modes, so training and challenging the Survival Mode does not exclude you from earning “fight money”.

The option to purchase using real money will be available for those who simply want to push through the “earning” phase. So, “fight money” is earned in game, and “Zenny” is purchased with real money, Zenny being a nod to the old currency in the game Forgotten Worlds.

Not something you want to see in a brand new game.

Not something you want to see in a brand new game.

These promises of future content and new system of commerce are irrelevant if the game doesn’t play well. So how does the new Street Fighter handle?

As someone who started playing this series back in the 90’s but skipped the excitement of Street Fighter IV, I feel like nothing has changed in the last twenty years, something I consider great in a game where familiarity is essential.

… the opportunity for some serious table turning …
These were the same characters I controlled in my college dorm room against buddies and in the local arcade. Everything felt tight and accessible. I survived dozens of battles on sheer familiarity alone, but learning some of the new V-gauge elements added a level of strategy that separated this from previous games in the series.

As you take damage, your V-gauge meter builds up, allowing you to access various character-specific abilities and these are not only special attacks. For example, using Chun Li’s V-skill (derivative from the V-gauge) accesses a mode that causes her normal special attacks to do some serious damage. The V-trigger (also derived from the V-gauge) offers different characters new special attacks, or the ability to teleport, for example. Since the V-gauge fills up when you take damage, this opens up the opportunity for some serious table turning.

STREET FIGHTER V_20160215195834

Even accessing some of the new cast members proved to be a pleasant experience, once again a testament to Capcom’s ability to deliver on the expectations for this series, in terms of the inner workings at least.

Visuals:
While the visual evolution between Street Fighter IV and V is not drastic, this does not discount how visually amazing Street Fighter V looks and moves. Again, I hail from the era of hand-drawn characters, so this level of detail and fluidity in motion was quite a shock to me, despite having played SFIV a few times.

… making each one of those frames count …
This was also a testament to how the game played in that such a drastic change in visuals and animation might have compromised how characters felt and played, but this was not the case, as I mentioned above.

Even up close during the “versus” face-offs, the integrity in the character models and textures oozes with color and style, never mind the way they look during combat which is even more impressive. Special effects are also a sight to behold, with waves of energy pulsating from your fireball as it travels across the screen. A lot of these effects are sometimes only seen for literally a few frames on the screen but that didn’t stop the art department from making each one of those frames count.

"Coming soon: Full cinematics."

“Coming soon: Full cinematics.”

I was a little disappointed in the story cinematics. I realize that this is Street Fighter, and even in the days of Street Fighter II, character storylines were told via comic book still frames. But with the aforementioned character models and backdrops available, it would have been pretty amazing to see some of the comic book stills come to life.

There are a few moments of in-game banter between the characters, during the Story Mode, but it is more build up for the fight than anything else. Apparently the update in June will bring a free update to the Story Mode.

… familiar but new …
I still hold to the belief that a game should be shipped complete, but I understand that those days are long gone and I appreciate that all upcoming updates for this game will be free and only add to the overall experience.

Audio:
There’s certainly a familiarity in the tunes within Street Fighter V, but everything about this soundtrack rocks. I was even pleased to hear some of Chun Li’s (my favorite character, in case I hadn’t already mentioned it) stage tune repurposed for a much softer emotional scene within the Story Mode’s cinematics.

STREET FIGHTER V_20160215195645

Fighting games like these are an interesting bunch. You want to reinvent the wheel, innovate it, but you also don’t want to leave your loyal fans in unfamiliar territory. Thus, Street Fighter V sounds familiar but new.

Even the music playing while sitting in the lobby is catchy and pleasant to my auditory receptors. Impacts sound brutal and full of bass, making every hit rattle the walls in my living room.

… a lot is riding on the connectivity and stability of online gameplay …
The voice acting is what I have always expected in the series, not award winning but I don’t really care. For “purists” the option for spoken Japanese language is available.

Online/Multiplayer:
At the time of this writing, it was very difficult for me to find online matches. Even when trying to access a casual match, I sat staring at the “searching” screen for a long time before giving up. I had a lot more luck with the lobby system, despite the term “lobby” being a bit of a misuse, as it only allows for two people. Some lobbies had already expired which was annoying, as they still showed up on the list.

It looks pretty busy, but all of these had long expired.

It looks pretty busy, but all of these had long expired.

I know there have been some complaints of lag issues but I had no such experience. My issues came more in the form of struggling to find matches and even connecting to a lobby only to be booted entirely from the game to a PSN error screen. I expect some of these issues to be resolved as a lot is riding on the connectivity and stability of online gameplay.

Despite these issues, Street Fighter V comes packed with some great online features, including “immediate” access to a casual match in addition to ranked matches, that earn league points as you battle with other players around the world.

… a strong enough backbone to entice me to wait …
I personally love the potential behind the rival search mode where you can assess information on a rival based on their ID. You can also follow them and observe replays. It’s a great tool for learning some techniques from better players.

Offline play is as fun as it’s ever been. Turn on that second controller, invite friends over, and talk trash. Not that I ever had any doubt that an offline mode would be included, but I’m still glad that it was, simply to have some multiplayer available during the first days when I couldn’t even log in.

STREET FIGHTER V_20160215200849

Conclusion:
There’s a lot missing from Street Fighter V and I cannot stress enough how much I despise the launch of incomplete games. I’ve also considered that Capcom launched this early to prepare players for some online competitions that I have nothing to do with.

Normally this would irk me even more but the fact that future updates will come free of charge quenches my desire to lynch Capcom. What’s here is a blast to play and has a strong enough backbone to entice me to wait and see what else is coming. But for someone purchasing this game expecting the full package, you might want to wait until more content is released.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook