By Az Elias 07.01.2017
It has been almost a year since
The package as a whole is definitely more representative of a modern fighting game, with stat tracking, a proper story mode and CPU versus fights having been added to Street Fighter V in recent months, on top of the stage transitions and special KOs that Capcom had intended to put in place much earlier. Fighter Profiles seem to have greyed out tabs, though, indicating further unfinished content, and the most basic of fighting game modes, Arcade, is still absent. The story mode, A Shadow Falls, is no replacement, and nor is being able to battle the CPU in versus fights. The individual character stories that fill in some gaps between SFIII and SFIV perhaps could have been the Arcade equivalent, but they are simply a handful of hand drawn still scenes with around three to four fights, and no difficulty settings to choose from.
Survival is really the only other staple mode that should come as standard in any fighter, but the way its difficulty fluctuates and jumps massively in the last battle or two, even on easy mode, is frustrating, and more so when costume colour alterations are locked behind its completion on various difficulties. Being able to purchase boosters after each match through earned points can make it easier to get through, but not compelling enough to want to replay it many times with each character on each difficulty.
The reach for the casual gamer is limited, and one only has to take a look at a fighter like Dead or Alive 5 Last Round to see the plentiful mode options on offer, including Time Attack and Team Fight, as well as the Command Training that guides players through a character's complete move set. Whilst SFV has its Trials, it once again has the strange idea to only list the names of the moves and not show the inputs required to perform them, requiring constant back-and-forths to the Command List in the pause menu and trying to remember them. AI demonstrations don't really help alleviate that problem.
The first character season pass has come and gone, and with it, some really good additions to the previously small roster have made the selection more exciting. Urien, Guile, Alex, Juri, Balrog and Ibuki make up the first wave, and Akuma has already kicked off the second pass. Purchasing these packs does help to improve the fun factor of Street Fighter V and bring it more in line with a fuller release, and whilst they can all be unlocked through the in-game currency, once the story modes and most other areas have been hammered, it starts to get very grindy in order to rack up enough points to even buy just one fighter. It is harsh to restrict players in this way, as there is only so much online battling one can put up with.
The presentation is a rather mixed bag, but the actual character designs themselves are a huge improvement over their previous models from SFIV, and whilst the exaggerated hands and feet are kind of gross and Capcom's insistence on shoving them in our faces is annoying, it's hard to deny how good the majority of fighters look, with the art style allowing for lots of expression and personality.
Unfortunately, Capcom's total ignorance for the graphical clipping going on basically everywhere is a joke. It shouldn't be acceptable to have hair and other cosmetic designs passing through parts of bodies so blatantly on character select screens with default costumes. Ken's ugly banana hair and Birdie's skull chain are the obvious offenders, and whilst it's clearly far more important to ensure the smooth running and playability of the game first and foremost, this level of clipping is far too hard to ignore and paints a poor picture for Capcom's quality standards.
That isn't even to mention the terrible hair and cloth physics, which go absolutely glitch bonkers on many an occasion, flickering and jumping around on character select screens, during scenes and in fights. The art style does no favours, and while it is no doubt tough to program this sort of thing, it's something that has been better taken care of in the likes of DOA5, where hair isn't made out of single chunks of clay. A final knock on the graphics would come in the form of the pixelated shader effect applied to characters, which reduces the quality of the faces and models in-game. These lines and squares are perhaps trying to convey a sort of comic book vibe, but doesn't always do the fighters justice. The option to turn it off would have been most welcome.
There are plenty of negative things to be said about the graphics and limited options on offer, but Street Fighter V is still an accomplished fighting game, and Capcom does get it right where it matters the most: the fighting. Whilst not as accessible a game to newcomers as most people would think, this is an appealing title for anyone interested in the genre, and the big chunky visuals help to ensure people see exactly what is going on. There isn't as much to take into account in terms of special meters and such, with a couple of different bars representing a super move and allowing for enhanced attacks, but there is still a lot of technical stuff under the bonnet, as expected of a Street Fighter entry.
The main story mode is pretty awful, and it would be nice if Capcom could add to it in the future, but the priority is, of course, on the future characters and ways to prolong the longevity of SFV to the masses. Whether there is still time to bring casuals back into the fold with new modes and some extra generosity on the in-game currency to buy DLC characters remains to be seen, although it seems Capcom has missed the chance and should have waited to better put things into place from the launch.
Either way, though, this is the time to get into Street Fighter V, as the core game is great fun once the ins and outs of the mechanics are down, and online matches can be thrilling (even if the transition to an online match from another mode is excruciatingly long). SFV most certainly could be better, but it is a marked improvement over its original build, and the price it can be grabbed for now warrants giving it a few rounds in the ring at least. It's just a shame Capcom didn't take a leaf out of Team Ninja's Dead or Alive 5 book to deliver a free-to-play version that would have massively benefitted in getting casuals and newcomers on board.
Nearly a year on, Street Fighter V still doesn't quite feature the sort of content a modern fighting game should pack in, and this limits the number of casuals and newcomers that could potentially be brought into the scene. Definite improvements have been made in the last twelve months, though, and whilst there is still work to be done and there are some hard-to-ignore graphical issues that dominate screens, if you can add the DLC characters into the roster through unlocking or purchasing, there is no better time to jump into the Street Fighter V ring.