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Street Fighter V

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


PS4 Multiplayer Preview - 'Street Fighter V'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 3, 2015 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

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

There are a ton of fighting games on the market, but Street Fighter IV is the biggest name out there. Not every fight game fan loves the game, but Chun-Li, Ryu and the rest are some of the most iconic game characters out there. Understandably, Street Fighter V was a pretty exciting announcement. The original Street Fighter IV had been growing a bit long in the tooth, with multiple revisions and re-releases that updated the mechanics but never quite reached the level of a full-fledged sequel. Street Fighter V looks to take a new direction that has a lot of potential.

Despite any surface similarities, SF5 is a pretty different beast than SF4. The Focus and Ultra mechanics have been removed and are replaced by Critical Arts and V-Trigger. You have a Critical meter, which is a traditional power-up bar; you can spend part of it to amplify special moves (EX attacks) or the entire thing for a Critical Art that inflicts lots of damage. V-Trigger — the V stands for variable and the Roman numeral five — is a character-specific special move with three attributes: V-Meter, V-Reversal and V-Skill.

The pacing of the game is also different. Damage seems higher than it did in SF4, but defense is also more powerful. It seems harder (if not impossible) to chip enemies out. More critical to those who are not longtime fighting fans is that some basic adjustments have been made to the gameplay. While the general combos and moves are similar, the game seems to shy away from harder button inputs. There don't seem to be any 360-degree attack movements, command grabs seem more common, and combos seem more lenient. It doesn't feel casual, but it seems slightly easier to pick up and play when compared to SF4.

The beta gave us five different characters. There's not a lot to say about Ryu that longtime fans won't already know. He has his standard moves: Hadoken, Senppukyaku and Shoryuken are all present and accounted for and work as they have in other games. His V-Skill is Mind's Eye, which is effectively an old Street Fighter III-style parry move, allowing you to nullify an enemy attack with proper timing. His V-Trigger is a self-buff that makes his moves stronger, so his Hadoken can be charged, his other moves do more damage, and even his Critical Art gets a buff.

Chun-Li has received more significant changes. While her move set contains a lot of familiar abilities, there are some changes. Her Lightning Legs attack no longer requires button-mashing but is instead a quarter-circle forward and can be performed in the air. It changes how she plays, since you can use the iconic attack in new ways; you can also use it to buffer attacks and apply greater pressure. Her V-Skill is a 45-degree forward hop, which might not sound exciting but is a fast way to move forward and pressure her foes. Her V-Trigger is a super mode similar to Ryu's that adds an extra hit to most of her regular moves, allowing her regular combos to inflict more damage.

My favorite character in the beta is Nash. Formerly known as Charlie, Nash is Guile's mentor and returns as an odd Frankenstein's monster-looking version of himself. Nash is all about the pressure. He has Guile's Sonic Boom and a variety of special kick moves that allow him to cover lots of area. He has a particularly nasty jumping command grab that slams enemy faces into the ground. His V-moves are brutal. His V-Skill nullifies projectiles with a punch, making it harder for him to get zoned out, and his V-Trigger is a short-range teleport that charges extremely quickly, so he can be brutally good at mind games.

Cammy, another returning veteran, hasn't changed much on the surface. Like other characters, her move inputs have been simplified. Her Hooligan Combination is easier to pull off and has some versatility, which will sound scary to those who know Cammy's already-dominant fighting ability. As always, she can perform deadly spinning kicks to catch enemies off-guard. Cammy's V-Skill is a spinning backfist that can go through some attacks, making it great for closing in on projectile-spamming foes. Her V-Trigger is another move-modifying super mode. As long as it is active, her moves seem to have increased speed and recovery, making her even better at rushing enemies.

Whether you call him Dictator, M. Bison or Vega, there are few characters as iconic as the Street Fighter II final boss. M. Bison's probably the weirdest character of the lot in that he still has most of his charge moves, which feels odd considering the revamps to the other characters. He seems to lack some of his more traditional moves and has a powerful close-range energy orb that can be EX'd into a longer-range fireball and a fire wall. He still has his Knee Press and Head Press moves. His V-Skill is Psycho Reflector, which sends projectiles back at the opponent. His V-Trigger awakens his psycho power, slightly changing the properties of his moves and giving him an invisible teleporting dash.

Perhaps the biggest change to the returning cast of characters thus far is Birdie. Not present in SF4, there are quite a few changes to his gameplay. As with most of the cast, his moves trend towards half- to quarter-moves instead of more complex inputs. He can use his signature chain to grab enemies and is brutal up-close with powerful command grabs. His V-moves are probably the silliest of the lot. His V-Skill lets him eat food, which can fill his V-Gauge or drop rubbish on the ground, like a banana peel or a soda can, which can hit enemies in unexpected ways. His V-Trigger causes him to devour a pepper, turn red and gain increased damage and guard break on his attacks.

SF5 feels more accessible than the last game, which may worry longtime fans but is probably a welcome change to those who find the mechanics intimidating. You still need to have a good grasp over frames, links, and other mechanics, but it's an easier game to play. The V-Trigger system gives each character a distinct niche, allowing characters even greater variety than before. While the characters we saw in the demo had pretty basic V-Triggers and V-Skills, they were all a dynamic part of the character's skill set. Some may lament the loss of Focus attacks and Revenge meters, but there's a lot of potential in the new systems. There are also a lot of other neat minor touches, such as interactive arenas that allow special animations if an enemy is defeated in the right place.

We tested out some of the online play. In the beta, you're allowed to hang out in the training mode and test your skills while waiting for another player to connect. It seemed to take a long while to find opposing players, and unfortunately, the beta didn't seem to have much in the way of matchmaking. However, the actual games we played were buttery smooth. While the online play isn't perfect, I had little trouble going up against opponents and encountered a bare minimum amount of lag. Other players have reported noticeable lag during fights, but I'm located in a major city and have high-speed Internet. Since this is a basic stress test beta, there is a good chance it will be improved before the final version, but it is something to keep an eye on in the future.

Street Fighter V has announced a good number of other characters, from classic Ken to newcomer Necalli and the recently announced cult favorite, Rainbow Mika. The full game is intended to have 16 characters at launch and will support further characters via DLC. One interesting feature is that the DLC characters will be available either via cash or by earning an in-game currency you can spend to unlock them. Street Fighter V is shaping up to be an exciting successor to the king of fighting franchises and will launch in 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and PC.

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