Street Fighter V Launch Review
Disclaimer: Despite any and all hurdles Street Fighter V has had, I’d like to give a special thanks to Peter “Combofiend” Rosas for his hard work on Street Fighter; having a pro player guiding this project in any manner is definitely a boon. And to Evil Geniuses’ Kenneth “KBrad” Bradley for both teaching me “The Pose” and for consenting to an interview about the FGC and SF5 as a whole. That interview will be coming a little later on, when we have the time to sit down and chat!
I love Street Fighter. I’ve been playing since I found a moldy, dusty theater that had a cabinet for “Street Fighter ‘87”. It’s a wonderful series, and though there were some naysayers, the Street Fighter IV run was pretty fantastic. There were drawbacks, though. Too many characters [and only about ten worth playing], too many iterations that we had to keep buying, et cetera. But I have hope for Street Fighter V. I say that I have hope because that’s the only feature that’s bloody open to be used right now! I understand offering more features as the game goes on, but I’m a little put down about the Battle Lounge not working, for example. We here at Bottom Tier are going to record a video review to go with this game, just as soon as the feature becomes available! The gameplay? Phenomenal. The mechanics of the game are sound, solid and all around amazing. It feels like we went back to the more aggressive days of Street Fighter III when everyone could parry, and damage was everywhere. None of this turtling, eternal blocking garbage from IV.
But there are so many things we’re waiting on right now: More than three or four story missions per character. The Shop. DLC characters [that’s understandable]. The servers were incredibly unstable to boot! That’s not all, either but I’m so glad to have this game in my hands anyway. I can’t do challenges to learn characters, so it’s all Youtube videos, experimenting, and talking with the community. But the gameplay I cannot get enough of. Some of the characters’ unique abilities [V-Skills] are very similar to each other’s. For instance, Ryu has his traditional Street Fighter III parry. By pressing both Medium buttons he can parry any attack coming in at him, including multiple hits if his timing is on point. However, [Charlie] Nash has a parry of sorts too. His absorbs projectiles, making it very easy to build his meter. But if the V-Skill does nothing? You get nothing. V-Triggers are another cool mechanic new to this game. Instead of the Revenge Gauge/Super Gauge, we have the V-Trigger to replace Revenge, and the EX Gauge for the Super Gauge. Same principle in EX gauge though. You can use that meter for EX versions of moves, or save it for your Critical Art. But meter gain is so fast in this game, you can be pretty damn liberal with it.
There are some pretty amazing mechanics hiding in this game. Alpha Counters are back, in a sense. The V-Reversal replaces the old-school counter. If you have at least one bar of V-Trigger, you can [at the right time] press forward and all three punches or kicks while blocking. Each character has a different V-Reversal, and you can see them in the character move lists in game. It’s not a big secret. It’s not like Blazblue’s counter system, where you have at least one guaranteed counter built up. Street Fighter also now has the “Fatal” system of Blazblue, speaking of which! Certain counter hits can enter the “Crush” state, allowing a pretty unique stun. Crush Combos can do ridiculous, obscene damage if you can get fortunate enough to pressure an enemy into that state!
Let’s talk story for a bit. Fans have been clamoring for a better Street Fighter story; something that ties characters together, shows backstory, things like that. Well, we got that. Sort of. The characters each have their own story, and they tend to start with the origin [or close to] of the character. Ryu and Ken are dressed in their Alpha attire, Nash is pre-death, Necalli is freshly risen and not a bulky mass of murdering machine yet. But! There’s a catch. Most characters only have three to four stages total. The expanded story won’t be done til June. This upsets me a great deal, because in about an hour, I completed all the story missions. However there is something very good about them. There’s no “Ref”, no “Round one!”, no best two out of three. These feel like actual fights. They occur outside of the Street Fighter tournament, and it feels more organic this way. This is probably the best story set up I’ve seen in any fighting game. But I won’t know for certain for a few months yet, and that is troublesome to say the least.
Final Verdict: Great (4/5)
I want to rate this 5/5, because I love Street Fighter V, and it’s probably the most mechanically sound fighter I’ve played in recent memory if ever. But it’s just not done yet. There have been pitfalls, delays, deterrents. Servers don’t work, lobbies can’t be created, Ranked/Casual matches couldn’t even be played except brief moments on day one. Lots of in-game content can’t be accessed yet. Controller woes [though the folks who developed Skullgirls are responsible for us having Legacy Controller support at all!], you name it, this game has probably gone through it in such a short period of time. Street Fighter IV might be done with, but V’s time has only just begun. Capcom’s letting us purchase DLC without spending real money if we want to put the time in, something that hasn’t been done with any current fighting game that I can think of. Sure, older games could unlock stuff, but that was when we had “unlockables” and not “DLC”. But at least Capcom acknowledged the problems and is working diligently.
+ Incredibly sound mechanics, new systems, revamps of old systems. Faster pace than SF4, definitely a throwback with new look and feel. Crush Counters, V-Triggers, Crisp, clean, everything that is here works the way it should. I’m pretty glad Option Selects appear to be gone, and links/combos are less stressful to master.
– So much has changed on the character front. At least half the returning characters have kits that have completely changed and move inputs that are different. The tutorial doesn’t really cover the game as strongly as I’d like. Not having challenges day one made it a little frustrating to not be able to see examples of combos/inputs in the game, outside of the “command list”
+ The stuff that is here, as I said, works phenomenally. Except Battle Lounge. Tons of content that’s coming to the game, and quality content to boot.
– But most of the content that SHOULD be in the game is NOT in the game yet. The story is half-done or less, server issues are everywhere, just as bad as they were in the beta. Being able to buy content through in-game money is great, but having to wait on basic functions of the game is not okay.
Meat and Potatoes of Combat:
+ Footsies are way better, damage is higher. It’s very much a high-risk/high-reward situation going into fights. Characters are all unique and interesting, lots of throwbacks and brand new faces into the game.
– Hit Stun is INCREDIBLY easy to get, and quite a few of the Crush Counters are pretty worthless. Not all of them have good enough follow up. Some character walk speeds are pretty damn horrible.