Ever since its release, Street Fighter V has been under fire for being an incomplete game, and who can blame anyone for thinking like this? Upon release, people who put that game into their system were greeted with barely anything to do offline. With no arcade mode, no challenge mode, a yet-to-be-added in-game shop for unlockables, and a horrible online experience for the first week of release, anyone who bought Street Fighter V in its February release had essentially purchased a $60 training mode with bad online.
What a lot of people seem to forget, though, was that a lot of the game’s major parts were to be added in March. So, now that the huge March update has happened, is the newest addition to Capcom’s fighting game giant actually worth a buy? Let’s find out.
Fighting games are notorious for alienating the more casual scene due to their high execution requirements, requiring a small frame of time to mix moves together into combos. Capcom noticed this trouble with the casual scene, and has increased the window for combos in this game, making the creation of effective combos much easier to do. Most bread n’ butter (BnB; basic, effective combos) combos in Street Fighter IV only had a window of 2 to 3 frames where you could input the next move before you drop the combo. In Street Fighter V, that number seems to be closer to 4 to 5 frames. On top of this, the casual audience can also rest easy knowing that even if they don’t have combos, they can still get by on the regular moves, because the damage on all attacks in Street Fighter V is huge. A few random attacks can do some serious damage if they land. The best part about these two simple changes is that even though it is more welcoming to the casual player, it also brings the competitive scene for the game closer to its roots. By making execution overall easier, in combination with the high damage from normal and special moves, it shifts the focus of the game away from having a player that has both high execution and a good neutral game, to a player that really only needs a good neutral game.
For those unacquainted with fighting games, the neutral game is the point in a match where neither player is at a clear advantage or disadvantage on screen, and both are trying to get in on each other. This point in the game relies heavily on mindgames and prediction, as opposed to execution. Lots of limb-flailing going on here to keep opponents out or to try to get in on them. Punishing mistakes, applying pressure, everything to do with fighting games outside of execution happens in the neutral game. It’s the core of fighting game fundamentals. This change to almost exclusive focus on the neutral game is a smart choice. By having the gameplay focus more on fighting game fundamentals, it helps to develop the player into someone who is better overall at the game than creating a person with a flowchart of “that one combo they found” or keeping to one singular strategy. It encourages the player to learn, because they know that all they have to know to get by is their opponent, rather than any complicated combo list, while at the same time rewarding the player for knowing those combos.
Mobility in Street Fighter V feels incredible. Everyone has the perfect amount of weight to them and maneuvering around the screen feels incredibly natural. Street Fighter V is by far the best-feeling game in the franchise, even better than fan favorite Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. That said, mobility in a fighting game isn’t really something that can be graded, as how a fighting game feels to the player is almost entirely subjective. So while I feel that Street Fighter V feels the best, this is the part that will vary the most from person to person.
Now moving on to the actual mechanics themselves, Street Fighter V seems to have taken the series back to basics in terms of, well, everything. No more Focus Attacks, no more supers, no more Ultra Meter. In its place, we have Critical Art (CA) Meter, and the V-Gauge. The CA Meter is used for only two things: EX attacks, and a Critical Arts. EX attacks are powered up versions of each characters’ special moves that take one bar of your meter to perform, and Critical Arts are what’s replacing both Supers and Ultras in this game. Critical Arts are powerful moves you can do once you fill up your meter. Performing them takes all the meter you have, but if landed, they can be game-changing. You can charge your CA Meter by doing pretty much anything. Attacking, blocking, getting hurt – anything.
The V-Gauge is also only used for two things: V-Reversals, and V-Triggers. V-Reversals are exactly what they say: reversals. If your opponent is applying pressure, you can spend half of your V-Gauge to push them away from you. V-Triggers are special skills you can perform when your V-Gauge fills up. These skills vary from being something simple like an increase in overall damage for a short period of time, to a special attack that can put you at a serious advantage. Because of the higher utility the V-Gauge offers, it is harder to build up than the CA Meter. You can either build up your V-Gauge by getting hurt or using your V-Skill, a special move that varies from character to character.
That’s it for actual mechanics, though. The minimal mechanics help highlight the neutral game, giving the players just enough tools to deal damage and get in, without it being so full of mechanics you get lost in the sheer amount of options you have. With less overall options, it’s easier to learn your opponents and develop strategies for their specific style of play. It sacrifices complexity for the sake of a more involved mental game, and it works wonderfully.
One last thing I’m going to mention is that the roster is incredibly balanced. Every character has high points and low points that make them each good in their own way, where even the lowest tier characters can still make top 8 in tournaments.
Street Fighter V is by far my favorite Street Fighter game in terms of how it plays and feels.
Aesthetically speaking, Street Fighter V looks fairly lacking when compared to other fighting games, such as Mortal Kombat X or Guilty Gear Xrd. Not to say it looks bad, just that it could be better. The quality of the character models is very good, and the environments are bright and full of color. The biggest issue here, though, is that the environments don’t feel like they’re a part of the game like in previous entries. This has to do with the fact that, while the playable characters are animated at a full 60 fps, the backgrounds are only animated at 30 fps. Meaning the images in the back are going to look really off-putting while playing. The stages themselves look good, but when playing through them, I can’t help but feel detached because of this weird, unnecessary difference in frame rate.
Now, onto my biggest complaint about the visuals in this game: the color of the stages. You have all of these beautiful looking stages, with all of these colors that could be used really well to make them even prettier, and this just doesn’t happen because of one huge reason:
HARDLY ANY OF THE STAGES ARE WHITE BALANCED WELL
Seriously, it may seem like a small thing to some, but god damn is it horribly obvious in this game. The colors in the majority of the stages all have this really ugly blue tint to them from lack of white balancing, as shown above. And when it’s not an ugly blue tint, it’s an ugly orange tint. All of those great colors could have been brought out so much better if they just white balanced the stages.
Now onto the sound, and I’ve gotta’ say, Capcom nailed it with the OST here. You’ve got a bit of everything, from the hype-building Rashid’s theme, Ryu’s orchestral theme, Ken’s awesome hard rock, and F.A.N.G.’s… Dubstep elevator music? Yeah I guess that’s how you’d describe it. But it’s great, I swear! Point is, this OST is awesome, and huge props to Capcom for making one of the best fighting game OSTs of all time.
Ah, here it is. This is where all the backlash is coming from. Does Street Fighter V have enough content to warrant its price? It certainly didn’t at its release. But now that the promised March update has happened, adding in a lot of the content that was lacking in the initial release, is it finally worth a buy?
Well, let’s add it all together, shall we? The amount of content in this game is as follows: Survival Mode, Training Mode, unlockables through the in-game shop, Challenge Mode, ranked and casual online matches, quick stories for each character, access to the Capcom Fighters Network, and yes, the online is now actually stable and working pretty alright now. If you want to count it, we’re also getting a cinematic story mode some time next month.
Survival mode is the closest thing this game has to an arcade mode, and it’s not as good as one. You go through a lot of stages, each increasing in number with difficulty, and try to beat the boss at the end. To stay in the best shape you can, you can exchange points you earn for winning fights for buffs in HP, attack, defense, etc. It would be so much cooler if it weren’t for the horrible AI. It’s pathetic for the first half of survival, and then is absolutely brutal in the second half, so getting through the whole thing, even after a little bit of practice, is still horribly tedious. That said, I still enjoy the occasional survival mode, and don’t really see why people hate it aside from unlocking colors. As a mode on its own, I feel like it’s perfectly fine. The AI may be jank, but going through it once you learn the game is kinda fun. You just have to get over that difficulty spike if you’re playing on anything higher than easy.
The stories take 5 minutes per character, are pathetically easy, horribly written, and have ugly art, though sometimes comically bad. And some stories are kind of entertaining. And by some, I mean just Zangief’s.
Challenge mode is the standard fighting game challenge mode, where you’re presented with 10 combos for each character that you have to pull off. You get nothing out of this aside from something to do and some help on your execution, which isn’t a bad thing. Especially since this is the first challenge mode I’ve seen where the combos in it are actually practical. A couple of the combos I came up with for Nash actually were in challenge mode. It was soul-crushing.
The Capcom Fighting Network is irrelevant if you don’t play competitively, but if you do, it’s a place for you to keep track of the top players and watch replays of pretty much any match that happened online. It’s a great way to learn more about the game.
There is plenty of content, but half of it won’t be revisited after the first play through.
Conclusion: Should You Buy Street Fighter V?
Okay, here it is, the big moment. After everything that’s happened with Street Fighter V, is it finally worth a buy after the update? Well, a used copy of Street Fighter V at Gamestop goes for about $45, and that’s the perfect price. I want to use that to prove something: Even after this huge update, with the extra characters, modes, unlockables, and everything, Street Fighter V still does not have enough content to warrant a $60 price tag. Even now that it’s price has been lowered to $50 for a new copy, that’s not going to be worth it until June, maybe. If the story mode isn’t 5 minutes like what we have now. I bought my copy for $60 on release, and I love it. It’s one of my favorite fighting games, and I feel like my money was well spent for the time I’ve put into it. But I can’t honestly recommend getting this game to anyone for anything higher than $45. I wouldn’t buy a game that was online-only for any more than $30, and with the content Street Fighter V has, it just pushes it up to $45 as a good price. It plays wonderfully, looks good, and sounds great. From the perspective of gameplay, Street Fighter V is absolutely fantastic, and if you want to play it, you should buy it for whatever price you want. But if you’re looking for content, this game just won’t deliver for full price. Get it used.