I haven't played a Street Fighter game in quite a few years, after dabbling with one of Street Fighter IV's earlier installments (since you know, they made about seventy of them) I had no desire to play Street Fighter V. The change to the new art design was unappealing and the combat felt strange and heavy, but despite my massive dislike for one of the most widely adored fighting game franchises I decided to give Street Fighter V the good ole college try. One thing I will say, it was not a strong showing from Capcom to say the least, quite the opposite. For a fighting series that is not only one of the most competitive games at a tournament level, but one loved and followed by such a huge fan base, this was a truly dissapointing entry to the Street Fighter franchise.
Now don't get me wrong the gameplay is far from faulty, in fact it has to be one of the tightest and cleanest when it comes to mechanics that I have played in a fighting game. Even though I have been out of the series for an extended period of time, I found not many of the inputs have changed. Ryu still has the traditional Hadoken and Tetsumaki commands, and for the most part my moves came out exactly as I planned, where I would chalk the rest up to incorrect inputs, or miss timing on my part. The technical points of the game are also very precise. Spacing is important, and playing the footsie game to keep your opponent where you want them to be is vital to success. One thing I really like is how short stringed the combos are in this game, unlike Marvel Vs Capcom or Mortal Kombat X, you will never find yourself in a situation where a single combo will annihilate your health bar, nor will you find yourself stuck in a chain combo so long you can set the controller down, walk your dog, go grab some dinner with the family, and come back and still have time to contemplate how nice your TV would look impaled through the wall. Just because the combos aren't endless doesn't mean you are out of the woods, this game is far more aggressive then I remember Street Fighter IV being. You can easily find yourself comboed by your opponent only to get up and hit with an overhead or low attack mix up to another string. It's things like these that keep the combat fresh, and makes you constantly adapt to not just your opponents character, but their play style as well. This game also introduces a couple of unique features like the V trigger, a unique move specific to each character that adds an extra layer of depth. For example, Ken possesses a short distance sprint that you can close the gap on your adversary, or hold the button to do a kick afterwards. This can lead to 50/50's like running in for a rush attack, or faking them out with the run to get a quick grab to throw them in the corner, forcing your opponent to react to you and counter in turn. Each character also has a V guage which empowers your fighter to enhance their moves and mechanics. Ken ignites his feet with his signature flames to add fire damage and properties to each of his attacks, allowing you to truly capitalize off each combo with maximum damage. Every character feels unique and individual which is something I haven't seen in Street Fighter in a long time; but the character roster suffers for this. With only a measly sixteen characters to complete the roster at launch, there isn't much to choose from. I played every character I wanted to try in about ten minutes, repeating each several times. For a series with such an expansive roster, and against games like Super Smash Bros., Injustice, and Mortal Kombat X with much larger character options at launch this was a major disappointment. The diversity isn't an excuse I'll accept for this either. Mortal Kombat X had a whopping twenty-five characters, with almost half of them brand new entries, all with completely different play styles and stances to augment their gameplay, but Street Fighter V can only muster sixteen. I may sound jaded or spoiled but in the year 2016 I expect a healthy choice of options to choose from, or I'll take my business elsewhere.
This installment is not only lacking on characters, but on content as well. Opting out of a standard arcade mode which has become a staple for all fighting game single player content, and replaced it with a sub-par story mode. Not only are they short and can be completed in a ten minute sitting per character, but god awful to get through. Not many people play this genre for the lore or story, but if you are going to slap the word "Story" on it, I expect it to have some resemblance of what you titled it. Other than whatever that story mode atrocity is, you have a survival mode, versus, and a training mode. Standards in fighting games where you can test your endurance, play against your pals, or nail down those sweet combos and conversions we must all perfect to become titans in the arena. This however is all you have in terms of offline mode. To say it is sparse on content is putting it mildly. A free update will be coming in March to add in more but I would have rather them push the game back and sold it when it was what they wanted it to be, rather than giving me half a product now, and a IOU due in a month after. The online is fairly stable and the search method is very useful. You create a fighter ID that is universal across Capcom’s network, but separate from your PSN ID or Steam ID to label yourself and establish your legacy. You can then jump into Ranked matches to claw your way up on the leaderboards, as well as pit you against fighters of increasing skill to truly test your own skills and abilities. To Casual matches where you can just relax and exchange blows with random players, without risk of affecting your player ranking. This also earns you currency which you can use to purchase future DLC instead of paying real money, thereby rewarding players who invest their time with new content. You have a variety of search options that you can narrow down from connection strength and platform played on, to even character selection and rule sets if you are searching for lobbies. This feature allows you to set up the perfect online experience for you, and outside of minor latency issues and slightly longer than average wait times the servers were very consistent and stable, until you tried to play with a friend. I don't know if this is a glitch or a patch update scheduled in March with the rest, but at the moment it is impossible to invite a friend to play a game online. You are supposed to make a battle lounge first, set rules, character preferences, and a password if you only want friends in your VIP slug fest, then enter in your companions fighter ID. Simple enough right? Wrong. My friend and I spent an HOUR AND A HALF last night trying to get into the same room to play, searching each other’s IDs, checking forums, and trying to figure out if we were doing something wrong. Just for me to search for his room repeatedly until I found it and joined. This is the most absolutely ridiculous part of this game to me. The fact that something this crucial was either overlooked, or just flat out ignored at launch despite numerous beta tests is inexcusable. Even Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS have better lobbies for playing with friends online and they just got serious about online this generation. This is a major studio, with a major fighter franchise, making a fighting game centered around online play. This should not be happening and shows that Capcom’s priorities are more about pushing a game out the door rather than giving us a completed product. If you are going to charge me sixty dollars for your product and I don't enjoy the game fine, that's on me. But don't take my money, give me half a game, and not even let me invite my friend to play a game. You might as well spit in my face while you’re at it, at least I'd see that coming.
Capcom states they are putting the player first with the new currency system essentially giving free DLC, but punishes us at launch with lack of content and non-existent invite systems to play with friends. The exceptional gameplay and variety to strategy isn't enough to justify the price tag, especially seeing as how much they are withholding until next month. I wasn't a Street Fighter fan last generation, and Street Fighter V did nothing to justify its presence in my library of games. Especially with far superior fighters stacked next to it. This topic could be revisited next month when they finish the product they sold already, but until then, unless you’re a hardcore Street Fighter fanatic, don't waste your time or money.