Street Fighter V is a big deal. In the surrounding area of my university we have a house known as ‘the crucible.’ A room of solid stone where men hone the art of all fighting games; from Smash Bros. to Killer Instinct and everything in between.
OK, it’s my mate’s house, but you get the point we take our fighting games seriously, and no more so than Street Fighter. V has been a long time in the works, with us spending over 24 hours awake for the last open beta, and two of the house members looking at good odds of reaching Insomnia for the SFV contest. And despite the fact that Capcom did not send me a game code for the purpose of review (come on guys) there are currently six copies floating around since our trip to the local GAME at 9 in the morning so I have put plenty of time into this game already.
Just before I started writing my boss inquired into how I was feeling about SFV. While I absolutely love the experience, it seems that position is a minority. Destructoid agreed with me but lamented the lack of content we knew was not going to be out at launch. PC Gamer seemed quite salty about the game, stating that certain portions of the game could be beaten by ‘jumping about like an idiot and pressing random buttons.’
Now Street Fighter V is not finished, correct. But no fighting game is ever finished when it’s released. Nobody complained that Killer Instinct is released in increments, or when Mortal Kombat kept adding features. Street Fighter has a large legacy, with tournaments spanning continents and such a huge industry around this one game. This game is designed to last as long as the console, and a relatively barebones release is understandable. This is the game Capcom said we would get at launch and we have a timetable of updates to keep building upon the foundation.
If you have played any of the previous SF games, 3rd Strike mainly, this game should feel familiar under hand. As a whole the game feel miles quicker than the IV with Capcom forcing 1080p at 60fps on the PS4 version. This is most noticeable if you observe the arena backgrounds, as the frame rate is running at 30fps to preserve the foregrounds speed. This speed is not just due to the framerate however, the controls feel far more responsive than in IV, likely due to big hardware upgrade.
The roster for this game has been dramatically shrunk, however the characters are now much more spread in dynamics and style. Character’s like F.A.N.G join the roster, who uses poison to bulk slow damage on the opponent; Nash returns using zoning and absorbing projectiles to deliver big damage. Design of these characters is typically objectifying, with scantily clad, overly breasted females and pure muscle monstrosities for the male characters.
Newest to the skills is the split of the skill bars into ‘EX’ and ‘Critical Arts/CA’ as well as the addition of Variable moves. EX and CA splits are simple, EX is simply a more powerful attack while CA is your special move. The V skills are specific to each character though, with Ryu gaining charge ability on Hadoukens versus Necalli getting simply more power. Experimentation will be required, and with the smaller roster that is more possible than ever.
You have 3 modes straight off the bat: Story, versus and survival. While the cinematic story mode is not out until June, the current mode offers a simple introduction into each character, pitting you in 3 fights interlaced with some backstory. Not taxing a mode, however you do get a nice little amount of Fight money for the trouble.
Survival mode is a nice twist. Endurance battles against 10, 30, 50 or 100 opponents. Health does not regenerate, and you will spend points between rounds on supplements to gain health or essentially bet on completing a match within some conditions for extra points. The supplement system does not appear to be random despite what some articles say and it does provide you with what you need most of the time. This for me is more of a ‘throw you in the affray’ mode. Pick a character you are OK with and pray you improve under pressure.
Online mode is the backbone of this game though. Capcom knows this with matchmaking able to take place within other modes and allowing drop out and in of them to compete. The backbone of it works, with Capcom also allowing cross-platform play as an option, as well as filters such as internet speed and skill level. CFN also collects a huge amount of data on each fighter, including wins, level, time played and profile views, as well as storing replays for people to view. This backbone means that over time players will add the meat with online ranking as well as truly spectacular replays.
One good feature to note is ‘Fight Money’ as mentioned earlier. Mimicking games like LOL, players earn money in-game to use at a later date when characters become available to buy. While there is a paid option, the aim is for players to work towards a goal of gaining this money for the next character release. Characters are priced at 100,000 each which, while seeming a lot, is not a huge amount as more than that can be earned on the offline content alone. This feeds into the idea that this game is planned for a large lifespan with incremental content releases, and it’s likely that we will not have a ‘super’ or ‘ultra’ iteration.
In all honesty, as much as people seem to have slated this game, it seems like pure salt. PC Gamer lamented on content that we knew at launch was not going to be there, and Capcom laid out a list of content releases to keep the community informed. This is the game Capcom promised us at launch and it is a fantastic revival and update to the SF franchise. Not to mention damn beautiful.
But I suppose there must be one problem with it and at the moment it’s the online server. Capcom seems to have underestimated the popularity of the game and sometimes us end users pay the price. The rollback in the netcode is not perfect and characters will teleport about the pitch. Combined with lacking visual data due to this lag you can lose matches quite quickly because if it.
This is not its only server issue. Losing connection to the server puts your game in offline mode and throws you to the main menu; even if you are in an offline versus game, as we found out ten minutes into playing. This is all seeming to be lack of preparation on how big this release would be, as Capcom didn’t even prepare enough codes of all of us reviewers (I’m waiting patiently Capcom, pretty please.) PC online seems rather thin on the ground as well, with matchmaking taking far too long.
Street Fighter V is exactly what we expected: A solid, refined, and optimised backbone for the next few years of contest, tournaments and loss of friendships. Don’t let salty reviewers tell you that the game is ‘incomplete’ or can be completed through ‘button mashing.’ SFV is an optimised, beautiful masterpiece and about to raise the bar much higher on tactical fighting gaming. If it wasn’t for the issues in the net coding this game would get a 10 but these force it down to a 9. Almost perfection in a fighting game, and a game I’m going to be playing for many years.