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Street Fighter V

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Feb. 16, 2016

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PS4/PC Preview - 'Street Fighter V'

by Thomas Wilde on July 24, 2015 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Street Fighter V is the latest installment in the fighting franchise, adding new fighters, several new locations, and cross-platform play.

Capcom's booth at E3 2015 was all about Street Fighter V. There were a few other displays, like the Resident Evil 0 remake and a mobile game that mixes the Ghostbusters with Puzzle Fighter, but for moment-to-moment action, it was all about SFV. Players could participate in tournaments that came complete with live commentary (from community mainstays Mike Ross and Peter "Combofiend" Rosas), and a mini-tournament of fighting-game professionals took place on the second day of the show, including Justin Wong and Daigo "the Beast" Umehara.

With the touring "Capcom Cup" shows, Capcom has gone all in on the competitive tournament scene within the last couple of years. While the tournament-fighter professional circuit is currently a fraction of the size of the leagues for big games such as Starcraft II or Defense of the Ancients, it has a dedicated and enthusiastic player base that, in many ways, grew directly out of Street Fighter. Mortal Kombat X is leveraging the same community to keep its game relevant and in the public eye, and to go by the events at E3, SFV is going the same way. For casual players, it represents another way to beat the snot out of your friends and family, much as it has been for 25 years, but it looks like SFV will have a more interesting pace and flow at high levels of play than its predecessors did.


Right now, SFV is still in its early stages, with only six playable characters at the show: Birdie (who has put on a considerable amount of weight since Street Fighter Alpha 3), Bison, Cammy, a scarred and malevolent Charlie, Chun-Li and Ryu. Most of them will be immediately familiar to fans of SF4, as they've all kept their trademark skills and specialties. Chun-Li's Lightning Legs are now activated with a quarter-circle forward motion instead of by hammering on the kick button, but aside from that, within a few minutes, I was stomping on Ryu's head like it was 1991. Nothing was particularly broken in Ultra Street Fighter 4, and thus for SFV, nothing's really been fixed.

The primary changes for the casual Street Fighter fan come from the addition of a broad new mechanic in the V-Gauge, which builds as characters either take damage or use unique V-Skills. The latter are dramatically different from character to character and will impact both their strategy and their opponent's. Ryu has a Street Fighter III-ish parry, while Bison can reflect fireballs (and instantly counter them with a fireball of his own by holding down the button). Cammy gets her old fireball-stuffing Spin Knuckle; Chun-Li's V-Skill is a low jump with a bizarre trajectory that makes it work almost like an air dash, giving her a lot of aerial maneuverability; Birdie can throw cans along the ground, toss out a donut that he can then eat to build meter, or drop a banana peel on the ground to trip up an opponent, depending on which direction you use as an input for his V-Skill; and Charlie can actually absorb enemy fireballs to add to his V-Gauge.


In exchange for all of this, you can expend V-Gauge to counter an opponent's attack or burn it all at once to trigger a short-lived power-up; Ryu will do more damage, while Chun-Li's attacks all hit multiple times. Getting hit during the V-Gauge power-up doesn't cancel it, so it can't be "stuffed" early on; the opponent just has to work around it.

A lot of smaller changes have been made from SF4, from the dramatic to the barely noticeable. Ultra attacks are completely gone, although the sectional super bar from SF4 is back, letting you burn meter for more powerful EX versions of your character's special attacks. You can't get knocked out from block damage anymore, all throws have a brief "whiff" animation, and only throws or super moves will score an actual hard knockdown.


It's a much faster game than SF4 was, with more risk and more reward; you take more damage, receive more, and take temporary chip damage from blocking normal attacks. SF4 had a problem where it would rapidly degenerate into pokes and "footsies" at medium to high levels of play, with both players trying to psyche the other into making a mistake, but SFV is built to reward match knowledge and offensive pressure.

Street Fighter V will be coming to the PC and PS4 — and will never be on the Xbox One, apparently — early next year, just in time for players to practice for the big Evolution tournament in July. With a $125,000 prize on the line for whoever wins the Capcom Cup tournament, SFV will be big business, both in players' living rooms and on the tournament circuit. As a stream monster, I'm looking forward to seeing if this is a more entertaining game at high levels of play than SF4 was because I know I'm never going to be that good at it.



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