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Street Fighter V Review: Hype Strikes Back

/ Mar 1st, 2016 No Comments

Street Fighter V Review

Six years is a long time to go between main entries in a series, especially in today’s video game industry where many franchises are annualized. Capcom has demonstrated some restraint in not churning out new Street Fighter games every year, although Street Fighter IV has been updated numerous times over the past six years. It looks like Capcom was taking notes on what to do when it finally unleashed Street Fighter V on the world.

Street Fighter V plays entirely different than its predecessor, which is for the best. Ultra Street Fighter IV got too bloated with its enormous roster and cumbersome move list. All of that is gone — the roster is down to 16 fighters (with six more on the way) and the new Variable System makes the game much more approachable while retaining the depth the series is known for. Street Fighter is back in fighting shape.

Wake Me Up in June

When first firing up Street Fighter V, players have the option to play through 16 character stories from the initial roster. These stories give a short prologue on each character and explain how they relate to the larger cinematic story mode that is releasing for free in June. Plots are presented with painted cinematics featuring voice acting, functioning similar to previous games’ arcade mode. But these are much shorter — each story only spans about three to four fights with an intro and outro.
 

Street Fighter V

#musclespirit

Most of the stories give two perspectives on a single conflict, such as the fights between M. Bison and F.A.N.G. As such, much of the separate plotlines cover the same ground, making some feel superfluous.

Individual character stories are somewhat uneven in quality, but Zangief, R. Mika and Birdie stories stand out because of how goofy they are. Learning about Muscle Spirit and the reason Birdie left Shadaloo is delightful.
 

Street Fighter V

No man with hair so perfect was meant to wear a hat.

Meanwhile, stories involving Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li and Cammy do some heavy lifting in terms of actual substance. If you wanted to hear “Satsui no Hado” a bunch of times with vague ideas as to what it means, this game has you covered.

Many of the other characters’ stories fall somewhere in between monotonous and intriguing. Then, there is Vega’s story, which is beyond creepy and makes you feel uncomfortable. The quality is uneven to say the least, and it hurts that the cinematic story mode won’t release until June.

The V Powers

Street Fighter V will feel familiar to anyone who’s played prior entries in the series, meaning you’ll be figuring out combos without too much trouble. Fighters have access to normal attacks, throws, special moves that can become more fierce EX moves with the use of the EX gauge, and deadly Critical Arts. Re-learning the buttons and the new style of play may take some time, but it is rewarding. However, matches feel faster thanks to the V-System and the revamped blocking.

Blocking previously allowed players to turtle and only take small chip damage, but it now punishes players who rely too much on blocking. Every bit of damage blocked increases a stun meter, and letting this meter fill up could leave you open for an all-out attack from your opponent.
 

Street Fighter V

V-Skills can prove highly effective.

The biggest change to Street Fighter V is the Variable System, which also contributes to the speed of matches and can help augment the new blocking system. Each character has three specific V-System moves: V-Skills, V-Triggers and V-Reversals. V-Reversals are powerful counterattacks that use up one V-Guage meter. Unleashing these at the right time when choosing a defensive approach can help save you from getting stunned and punished.

V-Skills are unique moves for each player that can help round out their move set without using any V-Gauge. Each V-Skill is different. For instance, Ryu has the ability to parry, while Cammy can slip past opponents. Meanwhile, V-Triggers use up the entire V-Gauge to activate either an attack buff, such as adding lightning to Ryu’s moves, or powerful attack moves, like Laura’s grapple. Much like Critical Arts, these moves can change the momentum of a fight. Learning how best to utilize the V-System within the established concept of Street Fighter will make you a tough opponent.

The Money Team

Besides character stories, players can check out Survival Mode, local and online matches. Online matches can be triggered in the background as players prepare in Survival, Story or Training modes. Players choose their main character and whether they want to play ranked or casual matches, then let the Capcom Fighter Network look for opponents as they play the game. The system works smoothly, with matches taking very little time to queue up. Since matches line up quickly enough, it is best to work on some combos in the lab while waiting.

Survival mode offers four difficulty settings for players to test their mettle against the computer in a grueling set of matches. Health carries over from match to match, so if you take too much damage in one round, you’ll be at a disadvantage in the next. Each victory nets a player points, which can be spent to restore health, increase attack or defense power, or restore EX or V meters. It is important to spend points wisely because matches can last a long time. There is a relatively deep level of strategy to surviving these matches, especially in higher difficulties.
 

Street Fighter V

Laura is the new hype.

One of the key aspects of Street Fighter V is the in-game currency versus real money system. Players can either choose to purchase additional content using real money (called Zenny) to save time. Premium Costumes can be only purchased with Zenny. Players can earn in-game currency (called Fight Money) by playing the game’s different modes.

For completing character stories, players earn up to 160,000 Fight Money, which is roughly enough to purchase Alex and a costume when the store launches in March. Additional Fight Money can be earned through completing Survival mode matches and winning online matches. When the Challenges/Trials launch in March, players will be able to earn additional Fight Money. Fight Money adds heavy to the replayability of the game and rewards players for exploring everything the game has to offer.

Overall

The biggest downfall of Street Fighter V is that it feels incomplete. It is equipped with everything you need to be able to pop the game in and start fighting friends on your couch or jump into online ranked matches. Everything out of the box allows players to start competing and learning new combos. However, the launch day version of Street Fighter V is lacking beyond that.

Character stories are mostly fun, but there some questionable retreads and spotty writing. Had the cinematic story mode launched alongside the game instead of for free in June, it would have offset some of the game’s weaknesses. The challenges/trials and store launching later in March also make the experience feel a bit truncated. For those dying to get hype and start brushing up their Street Fighter skills, it is worth buying, but everyone other than hardcore fans may want to wait to purchase the game until some additional features are released.

Street Fighter V was reviewed on PS4 using a code for the game provided by the publisher.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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STREET FIGHTER V REVIEW: HYPE STRIKES BACK

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall86%

GAMEPLAY9.5

Street Fighter V has done an admirable job differentiating itself from its predecessor. The inclusion of the V-System and a more streamlined combo system makes it an accessible yet deep fighting game that offer plenty of replay value.

GRAPHICS9

Street Fighter V looks very pretty with some smart redesigns of long-established characters, cool additions to the cast, and its fast and stable frame rate.

SOUND9

There is nothing more exciting than hearing Ryu shout Hadoken or Dhalsim declare Yoga Flame. The English voice acting is good, but the option to switch individual characters between English and Japanese is a godsend.

STORY7

Despite a full cinematic story mode releasing in June for free, the player stories included at launch leave a bit to be desired. There are some fun character moments, but the writing is spotty and it has too many re-treads.