Fans of the competitive fighting scene will no doubt enjoy what Street Fighter V has to offer. It is a fast, fluid and well-balanced fighting game that looks and sound spectacular. At its core, the thing people will care about most is outstanding. It is therefore such a shame that the rest of the game feels so incredibly incomplete.
While the cast of characters seems modest for a fighting game, Capcom has made it clear that Street Fighter V will serve as a framework that is expanded upon going forward. That is great news for fans who got tired of seeing the series released and then iterate and then re-release several times over the years. The problem with that approach, is when the core game that initially gets released is lacking in modes and options and feels rushed out of the door.
Despite the somewhat smallish cast of characters, it is worth noting how different they feel from one another. Even if the command inputs overlap a great deal, by and large characters have a different flow to them. Even the two one-time cardboard cutouts from one another, Ken and Ryu, have some notable differences between them. Using the nimble Cammy is a decidedly different experience than returning mountain of muscle Zangief or even newcomers. This is all great news, and the story mode, while short, gives you an excuse to play through each of the characters and get a feeling for which ones suit your style the best.
The story mode is unfortunately indicative of the rest of the problems on display here. Each story consists of two to four fights and then it is done. Considering that arcade style matches usually go around eight rounds, this feels incredibly short. Of course, one of the problems with Street Fighter V is there is no arcade mode (more on that in a bit), but the story mode itself comes across as hurried. You are looking at still animations complimented by some pretty cheesy dialog. Some of these stories have dramatic notes that are undermined by so-so (at best) voice acting, while others simply become ridiculous-sounding. The idea here is to encourage players to try out each of the characters and earn some currency that you can (in theory) use to purchase things down the road. To that end, it succeeds, but the mode itself mostly falls flat.
At least the mode is there, however. As I mentioned above, there is no 'arcade mode' - which is pretty much standard for any and all fighting games. I am okay with a title doing something new and not having to rely on typical conventions, but there is really nothing here to replace it. Ditto the lightweight training mode. There is a single survival mode, which works well as a way to farm currency and improve your fighting skills, but if you were hoping for bonus games, time tests, score attacks or any of the other typical modes one finds in a fighting game, you are going to come away very disappointed. The online modes are a must, and thankfully they are here, with ranked, unranked and lobby modes that work pretty much as you would expect. Given how popular the game is right now, I was impressed with how stable the servers seemed to be (very little latency) and I was able to find a match very quickly almost every time. At the time of writing this, there were sill issues with people rage-quitting that Capcom plans to address, but it is hard to believe that a game so heavily focused on its competitive market would release without that particular contingency already in place.
This is what Street Fighter V feels as though it was built around - online competitive play. Admittedly, this has always been one of the strongest suits for the franchise, inspiring countless tournaments over the years as players figure out the perfect frame to input commands and string attacks together. The new V-system (V-Trigger, V-skill and V-Reversal) is a nice touch and help to further give the characters their own unique flavors. Sometimes they add elemental damage to attacks, other times they serve as simple attacks or parries and in other instances can provide some area damage such as poison or fire. The V-system stacks on itself nicely, and compliments the Critical Arts one that has been in place for some time now, leveraging the EX Gauge.
I cannot state this strongly enough: I absolutely love the combat. If we were ranking this game on that singular merit alone, I would argue that this is a high nine or a ten. The problem is the aforementioned modes and lacking features. If you click on the store to spend your currency, it tells you to come back in March. Earning currency online is an incredibly slow process, which means you might want to do so offline. The problem is, you have the story mode and survival modes as the only real ways to do so. Additional characters, stages and features are being promised for... later.
"Coming soon" is not a great message, and it will not do much to comfort gamers who already often feel as though they are getting rushed games. While I am glad that Street Fighter V is not buggy, it still gives the impression of incompleteness.
All of these shortcomings only serve to reinforce the notion that Street Fighter V was rushed out of the door too quickly. The gameplay is polished and smooth, with excellent visuals and music to compliment the action. It is a shame that the excellent framework has been let down by everything else around it. There are too few modes and options to keep all but the most die-hard fans coming back for more. Even then, we are left with more questions than answers surrounding what will be in the shop, how much it will cost, what things will we get for free versus paid upgrades - leaving the unsettling feeling that we might be getting microtransactioned to death later. Hopefully that is not the case, because Street Fighter V should have some serious staying power in the fighting game scene, but Capcom has gotten things off on the right foot by pulling too many punches right out of the gate.
Article by Nick