Pre-Review: Street Fighter V
By: Jeff Rivera
Ah, Street Fighter. The Capcom fighting franchise is one of those series that wakes strong memories of childhood and weekends spent walking to a nearby gas station to spend my saved up quarters on intense matches of Street Fighter II and its many iterations. I remember after pouring countless hours into Street Fighter II, only to show up one weekend to see it replaced by a Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. I nearly lost my mind when I saw that you could not only play as the game's four bosses, but you could also play mirror matches. No more rushing to select Ryu first!
As the years went on, I lost contact with many franchises, but Street Fighter has always been able to pull me back in. With Street Fighter IV, I enjoyed it on the Xbox 360 and 3DS, but I never got inot it as much as with previous releases. It was a great game, and I even wrote some guides for it, but there was something about the fighting engine that I couldn't connect with as deeply as I could with earlier games in the series. With Street Fighter V, I feel like the game is back in a place where I can feel that connection once more.
When you first jump in, the game pushes you through a very basic and quick tutorial. It's easy enough to figure out what's goin on, and you get a fair enough look at the V-Guage and how general commands work. After the tutorial, you're dropped into the game's main menu, which is a little bare. As of now, the game lacks any sort of arcade mode, which has been replaced with a story mode. More on that story mode later. You have a few online options for playing online, but the options are fairly limited at this time. Capcom has stated that more additions to online play and options are coming. Currently, there's only support for 2-person lobbies, which is pretty disappointing. Hopefully the wait for larger lobbies doesn't prove to be a long one. Other than the lobby, you have casual and ranked matches, each functioning the same aside from ranked matches feeding into your overall worldwide ranking.
For offline play you're left with the training room, 2-player offline versus, and a very barebones story mode. The story mode is split up into 4-match sections (best of 1 rounds), for each character. They tell a very brief story via static image cutscenes that do little more than give you an idea of each character's motivations and general personality. The difficulty level is not customizable and the AI is awful in this mode. You'll blow through the story mode in about an hour, and there's no reason to go back until a more complete story offering is launched.
As you play through the story mode, you do earn credits for the game's store, but that store has yet to go live. Many things are missing from Street Fighter V at this point, ranging from individual characters to modes and features. It seems as if the game will be rolled out over the next few months, with priority going to the biggest holes in the package.
Despite all the missing content and the small fighter roster (so far), Street Fighter V plays like a winner. The fighting engine is tight, responsive, and sports a good balance of effective basic and advanced techniques. The best players will always rise to the top, but newcomers and casuals can enjoy the base fighting game without knowing a lick about frame data or how every reversal in the game is timed. Street Fighter V is just plain fun.
Essentially we have a very solid core to work with here, but Capcom hasn't delivered a very meaty product. There were reasons why the game was launched at this time, but most consumers aren't going to care. I only hope that what's included in the launch day package is enough to keep people playing until bigger features are patched in. I know that what I've seen has me interested, and I'm planning on staying in the fight to see what Capcom can do for us over time.
4 Stars out of 5