HBM Reviews: Street Fighter V (Initial Release)

"This is the path... of my destiny!"
It's been a while since my last review, hasn't it? Well, I finally have some brand new games, and I'm ready to review! Unfortunately, the Project X Zone 2 review has to wait until next week, because Chapter 26 is the lovechild of Hitler and Satan... but I digress.

Back in 2007, Capcom surprised gamers everywhere by finally announcing Street Fighter IV. Considering the last Street Fighter game was Third Strike back in 1999, there was much rejoicing. Now, Street Fighter can be considered the face of modern Capcom, and almost a decade after this amazing announcement, we now have Street Fighter V. With the promise of returning fan-favorites, a new gameplay style, and being the first Street Fighter game with a full-fledged story mode, does this game live up to the hype? ...The short answer is, unfortunately, no. Read on for the long answer.

Announced a little over a year ago, Street Fighter V was considered long overdue by fans upset with Capcom's usual practice of updating the same games over and over and over. With this title, Capcom seemed to be aiming to please fans. Re-introducing characters not seen for over a decade, like Charlie Nash, Rainbow Mika, and Karin Kanzuki; Making all DLC available for free through in-game money; Including a modernized Story Mode, similar to other fighting games these days; and promising to do away with the constant updates to the game through separate game updates. It all seemed too good to be true, and us Street Fighter fans got hyped as hell.

With a starting roster of 16 characters, with 6 more DLC characters coming later this year, Street Fighter V isn't lacking in character diversity. While many characters were kept true to their original roots, some changes were made to differentiate characters and make them more unique (for example, Ken's Tatsumaki Senpukyaku now travels in an arc, Charlie and Vega/Claw were changed from charge characters to motion characters, etc.). While many of these changes have been fairly decent, I've noticed that some characters are lacking in special moves; While some characters in the Street Fighter IV series had 9 or 10 special moves, the most per character here is about 6 or 7, which is pretty disappointing.
But what about Q?
Some further changes were made to the fighting engine, to help Street Fighter V differentiate itself from the previous games. The EX Gauge now only has 3 bars, Super Combos are now named Critical Arts, and the Revenge Gauge has been replaced with a whole new V System. Basically, there are 3 things you can do with this gauge: V-Skills, V-Reversals, and V-Triggers. V-Skills are character-specific abilities that help add to combos; Ryu and Zangief parry attacks, Chun-Li launches herself and her opponent into the air, M. Bison/Dictator reflects projectiles, and many more. V-Reversals are basically combo breakers that take up one gauge of the V-Gauge. V-Triggers take up the whole V-Gauge, and are either a powerful attack (R. Mika has her tag-partner assist her, newcomer Rashid summons a tornado) or a power-up (Ryu's attacks are electrified, Cammy's special attacks deal more hits). While this is all fairly interesting, and adds new tech to the game for pro players, I personally tend to forget it's even there until I can use my V-Trigger, so I'm not sure how good it really is.

Now onto the modes of the game... what few of them there are at this point. You see, Capcom released this game in what is basically an unfinished state, both to release a big game before the end of their financial year, and to allow games to get used the new gameplay in time for tournaments. Unfortunately, this means that those of us who don't only play online mode got the short end of the stick, because there's only 3 game modes available at launch other than online modes. And while there will be more modes added to the game in the coming months for free, those of us who got the game early got kinda bored with this game quickly.

The 3 non-online modes are Story, Versus, and Survival. Story allows you to play through a character's backstory prior to the events of SFV (which takes place between IV and III)... though each story is only 2-4 fights, so disappointingly short, These stories basically only exist to build hype for the Cinematic Story Expansion coming in June, and while that certainly isn't a bad thing, the least they could have done was add a few more fights in each story. Beating a story makes the chaarcter's alternate costume available for purchase in the Shop... which isn't going to be available until the March update. So basically, right now, Story Mode is just a way to kill 3-4 hours.
Charlie: Guile, bruh, when you bein' released tho?
Versus Mode got neutered pretty hard as well, as now you can't even fight computer opponents in it.
It's literally just local Player Versus Player, so those of us who want to fight the computer in just a single three-round match are SOL. As for Survival Mode, that one's actually decently fleshed out. There are 4 difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Hell. The higher the difficulty, the more fights you have to endure, and the more fights you go through, the hard the AI becomes. You can use your points to purchase power-ups to help you through fights, though the levels of the power-ups are random. For completing challenge mode, you gain alternate colors for the character you played as, with the costumes you get depending on the difficulty (Hell doesn't give you any, thankfully), though you have to play it separately for alternate costumes, so that's annoying. Still, right now, Survival mode might be the best mode in the game right now.

Of course, it wouldn't be a modern-day fighting game without Online Mode, and right now, that's where most of the focus is. There's Ranked and Player matches, lobbies, you can add people to your favorites and watch replays, and just like SFIV, you can wait for online matches while playing offline. The Netcode is decent enough (I've only experienced lag in a small handful of matches), and it's cross-platform, so if you're using the PS4 version, you can fight PC players, and vice-versa. Basically, this is where a huge chunk of playtime goes right now.

Earlier, I said Story Mode unlocks alternate costumes in the Shop. Allow me to expand on that. For this game, there are 2 types of currency: Fight Money, and Zenny. Fight Money is gained just from playing the game. You get it in increments of thousands upon beating characters' stories, survival modes, and leveling them up, as well as smaller increments from playing online matches. It's been said that individual characters will cost 100,000 Fight Money, so that's annoying. Zenny is purchased with real-world money, and it's said that $5 worth will be enough to purchase a character. Basically, the most viable option to unlock characters... is to get the Season Pass, which will give you an overall deal on all the DLC. Of course, right now this doesn't matter, since the shop isn't being made available until next month.

In closing, right now Street Fighter V is incomplete, so I don't think I can even call this a full review. Looking at an unfinished game like this is hardly fair, so I can't really call this a full review. Once all the content has been released, I'll do a follow-up post, though I wouldn't expect that for at least a few years. Anyway, as it is, Street Fighter V isn't getting on any "Best of 2016" lists. Maybe once more content has been released it could possibly build a better reputation, but for now, I just know Street Fighter V is being seen as a joke by the fighting game community.

HBM, signing out.

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