Street Fighter V review: The good, the great, and the unfinished

Michaela Nadine Pacis
Street Fighter V review: The good, the great, and the unfinished
Depending on who you are and what your experience is with fighting games, this latest Street Fighter title could be a great hit or an unfortunate miss

Street Fighter V
Released on PC, PS4 (Reviewed)
Priced at $59.99

The long awaited sequel to the Street Fighter franchise is here. Capcom’s most popular game is back in time for its professional season and it sports a new and upgraded look with overhauled features. Quite a lot of hype surrounds this title and as with many popular games it received mixed feedback.

Depending on who you are and what your experience is with fighting games, this latest Street Fighter title could be a great hit or an unfortunate miss. 

For this review we’ll look at Street Fighter V from two perspectives: from the casual gamer and from the full-fledged fighting game fan.

Taking a hard look at the game with me are two gamers who are more than familiar with the Street Fighter franchise, Kriz Madrid and Emman Asuncion.

Here’s what we have to say. 

New game, new look

One of the more obvious changes to Street Fighter V is its updated look. It’s a decent upgrade from Street Fighter IV. The lines and textures are smoother and the colors are brighter. The stages look great and the characters are more detailed and expressive. The upgrade is a good fit for the next-gen console that feels recognizable but different.

Aside from the subtle upgrade, Street Fighter V has a spanking new navigational menu which won’t take much to get used to. Instead of the old scroll-type menu, everything is laid out on the screen making it easier to switch from different modes.

Not much to see here… yet

Sadly, there isn’t much to see in Street Fighter V. Curious first-time players may find the game limited and experienced gamers will notice the lack of content immediately.

The Story Modes for each character are only four to five levels long, depending on the character you’re playing as. They’re not exactly challenging either. If you’re not a skilled fighter, it’ll only take you two to three hours to finish every character’s story line.

Aside from the barely there narrative, the traditional Arcade Mode is missing in Street Fighter V.

The Arcade mode is essential in fighting games like Street Fighter V. It’s the best way for a solo player to test their mettle against CPUs.

The best of 3s format against a computer was also another way for players to practice. Multiple rounds mean multiple ways of understanding the characters strengths and weaknesses.

With the Arcade Mode gone, players will have to make do with the Survival mode if they want to battle with the CPU. According to Kriz however, new players won’t get to learn much from survival mode as the difficulty level does not increase until you get to the later stages of the game.

The lack of characters could also pose as a problem for both veterans and new players. While the current characters of Street Fighter V are definitely unique in terms of personalities and movesets, there are significantly less characters in the game compared to most modern fighting games.

“Compared to other Street Fighters, or even Tekken or Mortal Kombat, the list feels lacking,” says Emman.

Fret not though, as Capcom promised that it will continue to add more content and characters in the following months.

Balancing accessibility and challenge

Despite the lack of content, fans and casuals alike may still enjoy the core game. Street Fighter V has a healthy balance its accessibility for both old-timers and new challengers. It teaches new players the basics but leaves it up to them to understand the more complicated move sets.

For Emman the game is “easy to learn, but hard to master.” Right after the game’s initial load, players will go through a brief tutorial. It will teach the fundamentals as well as some of the special techniques of the game, but never go too far and spoonfeed you information.

New players may start easing themselves in the game by playing against a Dummy or low-level CPU in Training Mode. Or they can just jump into Story Mode. If they want to challenge themselves more they can head to the Survival Mode and up its difficulty level. Should they feel more confident, they may also rush online and try out a Casual Online Battle.

What makes the game tough to master for beginners is the difficulty in understanding and executing the finer details of its combat mechanics. If you think this is a game that can be won with simple button-mashing, then you’re wrong. I’m afraid the days of pushing random buttons to get a quick K.O. are long gone with Street Fighter V.

It took me awhile to notice, but the buttons to execute a certain combo or moveset for one character are not always the same for another character. This means that mastering one character will not lead you to mastering another character immediately.

For the more experienced players, what will make the game exciting and challenging is the overhaul in the combat mechanics of the game. The new V-Trigger abilities, which will be explained in a bit, could take some time for them to master and maximize. For players like Emman and Kriz, it’s a welcome change of pace.

Combat reboot

To uninitiated gamers, Street Fighter V may feel like every other fighting game they’ve played in their childhood. For those with trained eyes and reflexive fingers, much of Street Fighter V has changed.

“They revised much of the gameplay which made the game feel fresh yet familiar,” according to Emman.

Emman is of course pertaining to the V-System which replaces the flashier Focus Attacks of Street Fighter IV. The V-skills work differently for each character. These skills can range from improving your guard, or increasing your attack damage, or buffing your next set of moves.

Perform them successfully or soak up enough damage, and you fill up your V-Gauge which you can then use to perform your V-Trigger ability. These special abilities will either buff or boost a specific move or allow you to deal extra damage to your next attacks for a limited time.

Keep in mind that the V-Trigger and V-Gauge is not uniform for all characters. Some characters require three bars of their V-Gauge filled before they can activate the V-Trigger. Others need only two.

The stun meter also makes a return in Street Fighter V. The stun meter used to be present in Street Fighter III but was removed in Street Fighter IV. With the stun meter, beginners and experts alike can use this as a tool to create a quick strategy for their next move. These stun meters can also be a way to pressure players.

Ultras are now replaced by Critical Attacks. These work just like the Ultras except that experienced players will notice that they have faster animation.

To perform Critical Attacks your CA meter must be completely filled. But if you want to pull off something special quickly, you can perform an EX-move which will use up one bar of your CA meter.

All these new changes in the game allows players to think and create strategies around their opponents. With all these meters displayed clearly, players can take advantage of this to form their strategy.

Online battle modes ask for patience

Online battle is basically an essential to many fighting games of today. Street Fighter V’s online battle modes could either be amazing or down-right frustrating.

On a good day, or hour, it feels like a breeze to play against other gamers online. You don’t need to wait too long to find an enemy. There’s minimal lag and most of the rounds have good pacing.

However, more than occasionally, Street Fighter V experiences issues when it comes to matchmaking and server connections. More often than not, it takes a long time before “a new challenger appears.”

And even if you have fast and reliable internet connection, Street Fighter V will sometimes kick you out of the online battle lounge. It can even disconnect you from the game’s online modes faster than you can say Hadouken.

What’s worse is that the game doesn’t automatically log you in once you are able to connect to the servers again. You will have to quit whatever game mode you’re in and log in from the main menu once more to go back online.

There’s also an issue with the lobby system. According to Kriz, it’s a hassle to create lobbies that can only pit one player against another. Though they’re easier to customize, limiting the lobby to two players make it seem not worth the trouble, especially with the connection issues.

There’s still room (and time) for improvement

If you’re a fan of fighting games then Street Fighter V’s many issues should not deter you from as at its core it’s still a good fighting game. Despite the rocky start, Capcom has promised its fans and new players that they will continue to add content and improve gameplay and connection issues in the coming months. In fact, players can expect these changes to arrive as early as March.

These changes come with enhancements to the online mode, such as additional players in the lobby, and better policing of rage quitters.

Players like Emman and Kriz are hopeful that Capcom delivers on that promise. “I don’t want to judge it as a whole yet. I’m not digging all these changes but I’m still positive about this game. Let’s see how the updates go,” says Kriz.

Ultimately, it feels like a great game that’s released too soon. There’s no doubt that Street Fighter V will continue to improve in the following months, and will be in true fighting game form after a few updates. If you’re a casual player or one who’s only focused on the single player modes, then we encourage you to get back to this game after a month or so.

“The keyword for this game is ‘Potential’,” reassures Emman. “The potential of this game is great, promising many features and DLCs in the future, but for now, it’ll feel only like an unfinished game.” –

Review copy furnished by PR firm

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