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Street Fighter V

February 18, 2016

Street Fighter V (PS4)
UntitledWhat’s Good:
-Nicely detailed characters with gorgeous effects
-More lenient combo system than previous games
-New systems are (generally) easy to get your head around
-Fighting mechanics in general feel terrific

What’s Bad:
-No tutorial for things such as character specific V-Trigger
-Feels more like a demo than a full version
-Rampant server instability

 

What I thought: “Wait for the March update or a drop in price if you don’t have friends to play with.”

“Let the guns do the talking.”
Street Fighter V is in some ways the ideal fighting game. The underlying mechanics are solid and are simple to understand for someone new, but are deep enough to make you want to lose hours in Training Mode trying to figure out how to best capitalize on them.
The timing required to perform cancels has been eased up a little, which makes doing flashy combos much easier than it was previously. While inputs will still require effort on the player’s part to get down, generally speaking, once you know the combo, it can be performed consistently.

Joining series standbys such as ex-moves and Supers (now called Critical Arts), the repertoire of the Street Fighter roster now includes abilities tied to the V-gauge.
Similar to the revenge gauge in Street Fighter IV, the V-gauge builds on taking damage, and depending on how many pips have been earned, will allow the usage of V-reversals, which are counter attacks used on block, or enter V-trigger mode, which changes depending on the character used.
Ryu’s fireballs can be charged to be unblockable, Karin gains a special move specializing in mix-ups, Chun-li’s normals do multiple hits, the effects of V-trigger are both exciting and varied, offering a great deal of strategy and potential damage output.
The only annoyance is figuring out what the effects of V-trigger are for certain characters, as there is no tutorial for the V-gauge, nor are its effects explained in character move lists. Some are obvious, some are not.
“Do my attacks just do more damage now? Nothing happened.”
The fights feel great though, and as damage isn’t scaled as it was previously, and stun gauges fill quickly, matches can end in a heartbeat.

 

“I don’t know you, but I’ll fight you.”
The online net code (when the server permits you to use it) is generally solid. Even in less-than-ideal matches, you generally see the lag before you feel it.
Hitches in the connection to your opponent may incite a rollback, and it can be jarring to see both players teleport back to where they were moments before, and small hitches might crop up, causing you to miss that block or screw up that cancel.
But things such as these are, at least for the time being, not a huge problem, and among the matches I played, there were only a few in which I encountered such things.

When you start the game for the first time, you are asked to create a Capcom Fighting Network ID (you don’t have to enter email information or anything like that, don’t worry), which acts as the connective tissue holding the Playstation and PC player bases together. The game supports cross-platform play, and as a PS4 player, I did not see any sort of connection issue when pitted against a player on PC. The cross-platform play works great.
There are a myriad of stats being tracked, with each player’s particular style represented on a graph for all to see. Specific match-ups are even tallied; does this player go on the attack more versus Ken than Bison? Now you know!
Replays can also be viewed and saved for future scrutiny, and all of the vectors for searching for specific characters or players are represented nicely.


Fighting games have traditionally had notoriously rotten matchmaking, and the same can be said here. While a good amount of it can be chocked up to the game being new and the ranked ladder needing time to settle, Street Fighter is a game that is best enjoyed among players of a similar proficiency, and both Ranked and Casual modes, at least at the moment, do poor jobs at facilitating such things. You may encounter players with nicely honed understandings of their chosen character’s abilities who leave very little room for mistakes, and players who relentlessly jump forward and spam out uppercuts in the same sitting.
In unranked matches it should be a melding pot, but when you want to care about your rank, victory shouldn’t be a coin flip.
Another mild annoyance is the omission of the character selection screen in both Ranked and Casual modes. While this does chop out a lot of the wasted time leading up to your matches, sometimes you like playing more than one character in a session.
Thankfully, the host can enable the character and stage selection menus in Battle Lounge mode, though this implementation of “I’ve got next” lobbies are, for now, limited to only 2 players. Sort of defeats the point.

 

“Where’s the beef?”
Single player has never been a strong facet of the Street Fighter series, but even standing side by side with vanilla Street Fighter IV, SF5 leaves much to be desired when it comes to playing solo.
Gone is Arcade Mode. Gone is the ability to play against the CPU in Versus Mode.
What you are left with is a series of ~5 minute long story narratives for each character in Story Mode, in which you will only fight three or four completely brain-dead CPU opponents in single round matches, or a series of single round fights with the option to decrease your score to buy buffs or health/meter restores in Survival Mode.
Neither of these are options I’d like to interact with for any reasonable chunk of time, and as the game servers see intermittent connection issues, this leads to being dropped to the main menu at random. Getting twenty or so rounds into Survival Mode to have the server drop out and boot you to the menu, resulting in you losing your progress is infuriating.
Aside from these two, your only other option when going at it solo is to hang out in Training Mode and practice against a dummy AI. There are a great number of options here, with the ability to record inputs and play them back to test block strings or counter hits among other such tools. I would have loved to see hit boxes similar to what Skull Girls or MvC3 on Vita offered, but it’s still a terrific Training Mode.


“Don’t say Free 2 Play”

Server connection permitting, playing Story, Survival, or winning Ranked matches will reward Fight Money, which along with the micro-transaction currency Zenny, promises the ability to purchase titles, costumes and DLC characters in the future.
Capcom has already stated that “dedicated players” will never need to purchase new characters with real world dollars, but how dedicated those players will need to be to keep this true, remains to be seen. 50 Fight Money for a Ranked win is not a lot of currency.
Fortunately, there is plenty of time to get to grinding, as SF5 did not launch with a shop, so the currencies are entirely meaningless until next month.

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Street Fighter V is a game reflecting the era in which it was created. The gameplay is solidly crafted, and is good fun to play, but from the offset the game feels like it was designed to be a platform for future monetization.
Next to Rock Band 4, Destiny and Halo 5, the game is continuing the trend of pushing a polished but unfinished game out the door and charging full price for it, and while the supplemental modes and features do not inhibit your ability to get in there and fight, it is no less frustrating, and even pushing aside the looming dread of micro-transactions, the lack of modes and features at launch is rather inexcusable. Making them free does not make it okay.

From → Games

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2016 | Spitz's Soapbox

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