The highly anticipated next entry in the long running Street Fighter series is finally here and boy is it rough around the edges. After a lot of beta tests leading up to release, the game unfortunately suffered a myriad of server and connection issues, which caused a fair amount of grief for players, especially when everything is tied into being connected online. Still, not everything is as dire as it seems. To be fair, Capcom has been pretty open with their plans of adding new content pretty much on a monthly basis, but for many including myself, it was still surprising to see what was actually ready to go out of the box.
Even with some short comings, I’ve been playing the game for about a week at this point, so lets dive into some of the nitty-gritty details, shall we?
Full impressions after the jump…
Before we get to the big items, lets first talk about what the game does well.
This is easily the best that the franchise has ever looked. Colors are vibrant, characters animate extremely well, are distinctive from one another, and stages are generally interesting to look at. Better yet, Street Fighter V plays extremely well and the gameplay is top notch. The controls are solid, tight, and somewhat forgiving even for those who don’t have a pro fight stick. It makes pulling off some of the more trickier moves much easier which should appeal to even the most casual of fighting game fans.
I’ll also fully admit now that the servers are functioning at 100% fighting online is buttery smooth. I didn’t experience any lag, input delay, or anything else that would have been a detriment to my experience. You can also set the game to search for matches in the background, which is fantastic so you’re not stuck in a loading screen until you’re connected with another player. Finally, pulling off a victory against another human opponent is not only thrilling but it feels immensely satisfying.
Alright, with that out of the way, lets get to the not so great aspects.
There is a tutorial mode which kicks up right at the start, but it really only covers the extreme basics of the game. It doesn’t go into many of the new features like V-Reversals, so it kind of tasks the players with figuring out that stuff on their own. The problem with that is that if a player goes into the Training mode, the command list isn’t really helpful. It will show you the moves and how to perform them but it won’t explain them or tell you what certain moves will do. This is especially apparent with V-Trigger moves which are character specific. This is a major contrast to other fighting games like Killer Instinct which is basically a master class in how to teach your community and help players improve.
The biggest problem with the title is that there’s just not much to do. Sure, there is a “story” mode and survival, but outside of that, single player fans are out of luck. As of this moment, Street Fighter V is a game that is geared towards fighting other people online. Survival mode appears to be Capcom’s attempt to replace the traditional arcade mode but the problem is that you’re forced into X amount of matches where for 90% of it, the enemy AI is simply dumb and then the difficulty spikes during the last 3-5 fights. For normal difficulty, you have to complete 30 matches in order to unlock character colors and earn XP/credit. More than often, you’ll fail somewhere between fights 25-30, which means you’ve essentially wasted your time playing because if you don’t finish, you earn nothing. Hard mode exacerbates this problem pitting you against 50 opponents, typically resulting in frustration of dissatisfaction after getting walloped close to the finish line.
What’s also weird is that the in-game shop isn’t going to be available until March even though players can unlock new costumes right now. For now, players will need to remain patient.
As for story mode, it really feels like an after thought. Sure, there is a more robust cinematic story mode coming in the summer, but what is considered the “prologue” to that just feels very basic. Essentially, it’s a mode that puts static illustrations with voice over work for each character wedged between two or three single round fights. I’ve found that fights are over in the blink of an eye, and if you skip the cut scenes, you can probably wrap up a character story in about 3 minutes. Not only that, it’s almost like the actual fights themselves are set to very easy as even the most novice player should have no trouble besting these CPU opponents. The story as is doesn’t always make sense, so those wanting answers will probably need to wait until the summer when the complete story is finally ready.
That leads into the fact that for people who just want to battle the CPU such as a traditional arcade mode, there really isn’t a ton of options for you currently. Oddly enough, Capcom has completely omitted the very simple Vs CPU option, so you’re essentially stuck with those overly easy story fights or settling in for a marathon session in Survival mode. Survival just doesn’t have the appeal that the classic Arcade mode has, mainly due to the fact that these are single round fights and your health doesn’t regenerate. Considering that Street Fighter IV was a sort of renaissance for the franchise, it’s weird to see this entry sort of remove core features and take on a more stripped down form. Adding those modes back in would also alleviate the current replayability issue for those players who are not a fan of getting destroyed online.
The base game as it is now is disappointing. Sure, the gameplay is solid and the franchise has never looked better, but as it stands, the package is very bare bones. Yes, Capcom has laid out seven months worth of content including new modes, items, and characters, but some elements like the in game shop and challenges mode feel like they should have been there on day one. Was this game rushed out the door? I don’t know for sure, but it certainly seems like it. As of right now, it’s a game that doesn’t really cater to casual fans all that well. Some players want to enjoy fighting games just to play around with the AI and have no interest in getting competitive or fighting other players online.
Street Fighter V is a game that has been made by a passionate team, that much is clear. The mechanics have been refined and honed to make a great fighting game, so it’s a little disappointing that many of the other elements which are standard for this genre didn’t make the cut on day one. This is a game that many will need to remember to be patient with as Capcom works to fill it out and make more robust. Right now it almost feels like an early access game but by the summer, it should finally hit all those check boxes and meet fan expectations. Sadly, I wish I didn’t have to write that, but it is what it is. Hopefully between the early adopter frustrations and server stability issues, the fans stick with it long enough to see Capcom’s grand scheme unfold in full.
The problem here is that sometimes you only have one chance to impress people and if you don’t put your best foot forward right from the start, sometimes you won’t get that second chance. As a fan of the franchise, this is pretty disappointing for me. Hopefully Capcom listens to fan feedback and fixes some of the nagging issues and missing features. We do know things will get better so it’ll be interesting to see how this game evolves over the course of the year and whether or not this launch period will have a lasting impact and if the public will get a case of forgive and forget.