Street Fighter V (PS4) - ReviewChinh Tran , posted on 02 March 2016 / 8,269 Views
Whether it is revolutionizing how we play fighters with Street Fighter II or revitalizing the genre with Street Fighter IV, few series are as synonymous with the fighting genre as Street Fighter. For almost thirty years now every mainline Street Fighter has brought with it new ways to compete, new characters to master, and refinements that build upon the core gameplay. This latest entry - Street Fighter V - is a beautiful fighting game with top tier mechanics and online play, but a lack of offline modes make it seem bare and lacking compared to most of its contemporaries.
In terms of presentation, Street Fighter V takes heavy inspiration from its predecessor, continuing the vibrant paint look while pushing it even further. Characters are noticeably more detailed and effectively brought to life through smooth animations and the backgrounds provide gorgeous locales for players to do battle in, although some are much better than others. Special abilities are also terrifically realized with spectacular lighting illuminating the characters and giving them a convincing sense of power. All in all, Capcom does well in showing off the flexibility of Unreal Engine 4, producing a game that is truly beautiful and runs at a near flawless 60 frames per second.
Much like the graphics, the audio design in Street Fighter V is familiar and strong. Fans will recognize the voices for classic characters like Ryu and Chun-Li, but the voices of the new characters are just as impressive and help highlight how unique each character is. One minor point of annoyance is how the English voices are often out of sync with the lip movements of the characters. Fortunately, Capcom has made it easy to use the original Japanese voices. Street Fighter V also continues the series’ excellent legacy of providing fans with memorable classic theme songs; new renditions of familiar tunes accompany the compositions of new characters to provide a fantastic soundtrack.
The presentation helps support some top notch gameplay that is accessible while providing immense levels of depth. Returning characters are granted new moves while new characters provide entirely new and unique ways to engage in combat. For example, F.A.N.G deals weak physical damage but makes up for it with a poison cloud attack that slowly drains his opponent’s health when they venture too close. Although the roster of 16 fighters seems small compared to other modern fighters, the roster as it stands is varied and fun to delve into.
Both new and returning characters have access to the usual Super Combo Gauge which works like it did in Street Fighter IV. Characters also have access to a new V-Gauge, which replaces Street Fighter IV’s Revenge Gauge. The V-Gauge is filled by taking damage and using V-Skills by pressing both medium attack buttons. It can be spent on V-Reversals, which cost one bar, or on V-Triggers, costing the entire bar. Each character has a unique V-Skill and V-Trigger and, when used correctly, these can be the difference between victory and defeat in close battles. The V-Gauge adds an interesting layer of depth to the series but is actually quite easy to use after some practice, such that veteran Street Fighter players should be able to string together vicious combinations using the Super Combo Gauge and V-Gauge in little time.
Street Fighter V's will undoubtedly please fans of the series. As with most other aspects of the game it is familiar but offers enough new additions to improve the series formula and present a challenge to series veterans. At the same time, it offers up a good starting point for new players. Successfully stringing together combos is not as punishing and does not require as much precision as in the past. Unfortunately, despite many of these positive changes, players will actually only be able to enjoy a small portion of the entire Street Fighter experience, at least for the first few months.
It is clear that Street Fighter V is not yet a complete game. The story mode, which introduces the player to all 16 characters, only offers two to four single-round battles against relatively easy computer opponents. This mode should take most players about an hour to complete. It actually acts as a prelude to the full cinematic story mode - a first in the series - which is coming in June.
Also locked away at the moment is the store, where players will be able to use various forms of virtual currency to unlock skins and new characters. This is slated to be released with the March update. Six additional characters will join the roster over the next few months and they will be unlockable using either Fight Money (acquired by playing the game), or using Zenny, the in-game currency which costs real money. Of course, you can also choose to unlock all six characters now with the purchase of a season pass, which will grant you immediate access to new fighters once they are released.
The other offline game modes are similarly sparse. There is a survival mode, which allows players to fight against various waves of opponents depending on difficulty. It's fun initially but quickly gets repetitive. There is also a standard training mode that allows you to practice your moves and combos against an AI opponent. Finally there's also an offline versus mode. What is noticeably absent is an arcade mode - a series staple since the beginning - and without this mode it forces single players to replay the forgettable and very limited story mode or the repetitive survival mode.
The bulk of Street Fighter V is clearly found in the online modes, but even this is an uneven experience. You can play casual matches for practice, participate in ranked matches to see how you stack up against others from around the world, or join and host battle lounges. Currently, only two players can join a lounge at one time but Capcom has promised to up that number to eight in the March update. In the casual and ranked modes players pick a favourite character and enter the matchmaking service. Overall, matchmaking is quite solid, although there were times where I felt I was unfairly matched against significantly more skilled opponents, but this is bound to happen once in a while. Matchmaking for the first week or so was also slow, but it has improved as time has gone on.
Significant server issues plagued the title during launch week and, although the service has improved steadily since then, for a game that relies so heavily on its online infrastructure this is incredibly disappointing. But even when it is working as intended there are some baffling omissions. Most notably there's no punishment for people who disconnect before losing a round. Capcom has promised to punish these “rage quitters”, but has not given a timeline. When the online component functions properly it is very enjoyable and the future looks bright thanks to strong net code that, for the most part, offers little lag during actual matches.
The newest and most interesting addition to the online aspect of the series is the Capcom Fighters Network. With it players can easily view detailed match statistics, follow rivals and favourite players, send invitations, search and view replays, and more. The Capcom Fighters Network is very intuitive and can prove to be a valuable tool for those looking to improve, obsess over various statistics, or just to watch their favourite players in combat.
In its current state, Street Fighter V offers brilliant core gameplay and presentation coupled with patchy amounts of content. This will evolve and improve over time, and Capcom has already outlined plans for the immediate future, but that doesn't lessen the underwhelming feel of the game's launch. As of now, fighting fans that spend most of their time online will definitely find Street Fighter V a worthy addition to the venerable series but those who want a more complete offline experience will want to hold off for a bit.
This review is based on a digital copy of Street Fighter V for the PS4, provided by the publisher.