Review: Street Fighter V (PS4, PC)

Street Fighter V is a bit on unusual beast to review at the moment; on one hand it’s a superb fighting game, but on the other side of the coin it’s a bit, well, crap when it comes to content. Please, bear with me and I’ll see if I can make a little bit of sense before you go down to our relatively clean comments section and ruin it with atrocious words.

I’ll start by saying that for those looking for a deep single-player game, you’re gonna be disappointed. Street Fighter V was made with competition in mind, or so it seems. I’m by no means a talented Street Fighter player – in fact I’m not really talented at any game, but I have my fun – so for me the constant push to be online and play against the crowds isn’t really all that much fun. Most players going into Street Fighter V will have probably bought just about every edition of every other version that’s been released, but for the casual players who maybe got roped in by the marketing buzz and the open beta’s, it’s a lot to digest. Those who’re intimately familiar with the series will have the upper hand when it comes to the online battleground, which in turn could lead some newcomers to shy away from the game.

Yeah, but the internet also said that microwaving a spoon helps with hard ice cream.

It doesn’t help that the matchmaking system isn’t exactly brilliant, and at the time of release it had pretty much shat the bed and wasn’t allowing online play at all. A bit more could have been done to ease in newcomers, basically, but hardcore Street Fighter V fans will have their fun with the online, you know, when it actually works properly.

So, for all the other single-player fighters out there, what’s Street Fighter V got on offer? The honest truth is that it’s pretty bloody shoddy. It’s something I touched upon in an earlier feature. The game has a “story mode” of sorts that lets you play through a short story for each playable character. A nice idea on paper, sure, but the storytelling is poor; you don’t get cut scenes, you get still animations that are voiced over by some bad voice acting. Basically, it’s crap. There’s no two ways about it. Personally, I’m a lover of stories and if a game says it has a story mode then it has a duty to deliver. Granted, fighting games may not be the forerunners of telling intense tales that make you think and feel, but then I’d argue that those people should look at the likes of Injustice: Gods Among Us which did a pretty good job in putting the fights into context.

Just look at the size of those feet. No wonder they don’t have shoes.

Of course, some will argue “oh, but Capcom has the cinematic story stuff coming in June for free”. So? That’s June, today is today and what’s in the disc on day one is what matters. It’s all good and well when companies promise lavish content post-release, but as a fellow consumer I want to know what’s in the box on the day I hand over my money, so that’s what gets reviewed.

Ok, so the story mode is pretty crud, but at least the fighting is good. Actually, it’s much more than just good. Unfortunately you won’t get that much time to really get a feel for the combat in the story mode as the battles are usually over pretty quickly. To really test your skills and get yourself in fighting-fit shape, I’d recommend taking on the training mode or survival mode. Training mode will give you a good introduction, but it’s far from being the comprehensive guide to becoming a world-class fighter, but it’ll do. I’ll be honest and tell you straight that I didn’t really give it much time, and instead I headed for survival mode.

And I totally failed with this screenshot. “Screenshot saved”…

As you can probably imagine, survival will see how long you can, ahem, survive. Pretty obvious really, isn’t it? It’s here that I honed my somewhat terrible skills and grew into an averagely-OK-against-one-armed-fighters combatant. It’s a great way to really throw yourself in and learn some of the must-have moves for each character, of which there are 16. Obviously some folks will have their favourites set in stone since a decade ago and new players may feel a draw to some based solely on their outward appearance. You shallow bastards…

It’s good fun to take each fighter for a spin and see what works for you, and it’s actually pretty fun to do thanks to Street Fighter V being outlandishly fun to fight with. I’ve never felt such response from a game, like, ever. I’m somewhat able to perceive input lag in some games – especially last-gen titles – but with Street Fighter V I never felt such a thing, in fact, I sometimes felt like it was too responsive. That’s not a bad thing at all in a game that required split-second responses, but it certainly took me a long while to get used to having my thought of “press punch” transfer to my thumbs and then see it in action before I’d even finished thinking that thought. It’s bizarre, but it’s brilliant, that’s the only way I can describe it. The game runs like butter on a ski-slope (can we confirm this would work, please?) and it helps make you really feel connected to the game.

STREET FIGHTER V_20160211203406
Ken: Hang on, mate, I’ve got a horrible stitch.

One thing that kind of irks me, but this is probably just because I’m not as well-acquainted with the series as some may be, is the extensive list of combos. I know, I know, I’m a fool, but honestly, how am I supposed to remember every single bloody one?! It’s good that there’s such variety, but on the other hand I’ll probably only ever use a small percentage of such moves. Other non-hardcore Street Fighters may also run into this, but I think with a bit of time, patience and willpower, it’s definitely possible to stick a few combos into your muscle memory’s repertoire.

Graphically the game looks pretty good, but it’s far from being a next-gen beast by any stretch. Fighters are well animated (though I can’t get over their oversized hands and feet) and they look pretty decent. That being said, there are a few graphical anomalies that crop up during each character’s intro to a fight, namely strange black lines that flicker on certain parts of the character models. It’s not a game breaker and you barely see them in the heat of battle, but they’re there enough to warrant a mention. The rest is pretty darn good, though the fighting arenas could have been a bit more dressed up. You’ll be kicking the crap out of opponents in many a locale (or getting the crap kicked out of you), and each one has stuff going on in the background. Unfortunately it’s never really that exciting, but I guess that’s sort of the point as you don’t really want to be sat there gawping at something hilarious going on in the background while your opponent is breaking you in several places in the foreground.

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Disclaimer: This review was carried out on the PS4 using a retail version bought at the expense of the reviewer.