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Street Fighter V

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

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Review - 'Street Fighter V'

by Brian Dumlao on Feb. 22, 2016 @ 1:42 a.m. PST

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

The name Street Fighter is instantly synonymous with fighting games. It may not be the game that created the genre, but it is easily the most popular and the one that countless others imitate. Almost eight years since the debut of the fourth numbered game in the series, we now have Street Fighter V on both the PC and PS4. The game delivers on fighting mechanics and ensures that this entry lives up to the legacy, but in its current launch state, the game is woefully incomplete.

SFV comes with a roster of 16 fighters, and half of them come from the Street Fighter II set. You're not getting the original eight selectable fighters from that classic, since Blanka, E.Honda and Guile are missing. Filling their spots are the bosses (minus Balrog and Sagat), while Cammy is the only representative from Super Street Fighter II. Though many players will be familiar with these fighters, there have been a few surprising tweaks made to them. Dhalsim, for example, now has a fireball that performs an arc instead of just going up at an angle, and Vega has the ability to retract his claw at any time to expand his combo repertoire.

Of the eight remaining, four come from the Alpha series. Both Nash (Charlie in North America) and Birdie make their main series debut from the first Alpha game while R. Mika and Karin, both of whom came from the third Alpha game, do the same. Like the other eight fighters, most players can easily jump into the game with these fighters, since their mannerisms and move sets are largely the same. They also have some small changes, like Nash's new move where he grabs an opponent's face before administering an electric shock.

The four remaining fighters are new to the series, and each one seems fit for different play styles. Rashid is one that many aggressive players will enjoy, since he's all about getting in close and unleashing tons of hits. He has a projectile or two, but their execution time leaves him vulnerable enough that few players will bother. Laura is similar in that she has an even weaker projectile attack that barely qualifies as a projectile. However, she's fast, and her emphasis on grabs and holds make her a fine choice for those who love hitting hard. Necalli is the expected brute of the new set, and while he hits faster than expected, he's slow overall and is meant for players more interested in damage than finesse. Then there's F.A.N.G., the first character in the franchise that has an attack that damages over time. His odd moves and ability to cover the area in more poison gas makes him tough to play against, but he's perfect for those who are all about area control.

There are a few new additions to the meter system that players will certainly enjoy. Critical Arts is the new name for the Ultra meter, and it behaves the same as before, except that each character only has one instead of two. You can expend a portion of the meter to amplify your special moves, but most will go for the ultra combo, which comes with wilder cut scenes. The V-meter has three functions that differ greatly depending on who you're using in your fights. Everyone shares the V-Reversal move, which acts a combo breaker, so you can stop the barrage and hopefully get in one of your own. The V-Skill can be both defensive and offensive, and it can act as a buff for some people. As long as the move connects, it contributes to the V-meter instead of depleting it. The V-Trigger always depletes the meter, but like the V-Skill, the effects differ per person.

What will both surprise and annoy some people is that the game has tweaked some basic mechanics. The wake-up system has some variety, as there are three different ways to get up from being knocked down. They're all quick, so you won't spend much time on the floor. The timing window for executing moves has opened up a bit, so you can be slightly loose in your execution of directional moves and button presses and still throw out special moves and Critical Arts moves. Interestingly, the game favors the Ryu/Ken commands, as they can be used almost universally to produce something special for each fighter. This also means that characters that previously relied on holding a direction for two seconds and going the opposite way with a button press can now use the quarter-circle to execute moves instead. For veterans, the change can feel unnecessary.

While the changes are enticing for newcomers who want to start fighting competitively, veterans can still easily take command of a fight and win on skill alone. The chances of a rookie whiffing on a move are reduced, but veterans can still rely on fundamentals. The game displays a high level of play but makes it more inviting for others to join in.

For a number of players, the online portion is going to be the main attraction, and there's a focus on getting in as many fights as possible with a variety of players. After choosing which character you prefer to fight as and creating your Fighter ID, you can go for ranked or player matches, the former being the only way to earn a worldwide rank and gain fight money to unlock characters and costumes. You can also invite people to your private Battle Lounge, though that is limited to two people for now.

The online performance is quite good during a fight, as lag doesn't seem to be an issue. Moves are responsive, and there's no hint that your input is getting delayed. You can choose to limit your searches to PC opponents, or you can include PS4 players in that query. It makes more sense to include both groups in your searches, especially if you consider that the previous game seemed to have more staying power on consoles than the PC, but the best part is that the online performance between both consoles isn't noticeable. Beyond seeing a PC or PS4 badge on the versus screen, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between console and PC opponents.

However, finding a fight can be tough because the time it takes to search for an opponent varies wildly. Some matches are quick to discover, while others seem to take ages before it connects. It also doesn't help that the game has no rematch function, so if you want to challenge an opponent again, you either have to record their Fighter ID or get lucky in drawing them again.

Capcom Fight Network rounds out the online modes and is rather useful for those who want to scout the opposition or gain a few tips without having to resort to another site. From here, you can search for anyone via their Fighter ID and add them to your list of rivals. More important is the ability to use the service as an in-game YouTube. You can search for any online fight replay using Fighter ID or characters, and while it takes some time to load each fight, it's handy to have a repository of battles in one spot.

The mostly no-frills approach to the online modes bleeds into the offline ones. Versus mode can only be played against another human player. You can't play against the CPU or have two CPU players duke it out. Training is also here, and it's no better or worse than what's offered in other fighting games. There is a Story mode where you can take each of the 16 fighters through their individual tales, but the name is misleading since it's more of a prologue. There are more cut scenes than expected, and each fighter only has to go through two to four fights before their story is complete. The difficulty isn't variable, so the opponents you face are pushovers for all but the most inexperienced players. It seems like a waste, but the fact that you can earn an alternate color set for each fighter and heaps of fight money makes it worthwhile, especially since it only takes two hours of your time, depending on whether you choose to skip cut scenes.

Survival mode is the most robust offline mode. After selecting a character, you choose your difficulty level, which not only determines how hard your opponents fight but also how many bouts you have to endure. The easiest level has you going through 10 fights while the hardest has you slugging it out through 100 fights. At the end of each round, you're presented with a random assortment of buffs that affect your next round but cost you points that you've earned thus far. You can choose things like a health refill, double damage or an increase in your Combo Arts meter — or you can choose nothing and hope for the best. Considering how everything else is structured, this is the best chance you have for offline fighting that doesn't involve humans.

That's all SFV really has for modes. Compared to its contemporaries, this is very light, especially for the person who enjoys the various solo modes in other titles. To make sense of this, you have to be aware that some of the major fighting game tournaments are about to start up soon, including Capcom's tournament this month. By releasing the title now, it gives the competitive players ample time to get ready for the bouts, and with so many of the tournaments eliminating Ultra Street Fighter IV in favor of this title, it makes sense to give people enough time to sink into this. Like it or not, the decision to solidify its place in the tournament circuit is what most likely prompted the game to come out, paltry selection of modes be damned.

The idea that the game was rushed for tournament season is further solidified when you realize how much stuff is left in the Coming Soon pile. The option to support eight players in the Battle Lounge fits in that category, and the same goes for the Challenge mode, which is supposed to provide the player with daily tests to overcome. The more robust Story mode is also planned for much later in the year, and the Store is scheduled for next month, so we won't know until then how much the characters and costumes will cost. Granted, this doesn't seem like much since a Versus mode against the CPU and an Arcade mode aren't planned at all, but when you consider how few modes are currently in the game, you can't help but think that this title is relatively incomplete.

One of the more surprising things about SFV is that its launch was problematic. The first day was considered a wash, since the server performance was so spotty that they were taken down for maintenance. By the time they were up again, only the West Coast could put in any time for the last few hours of the day. Offline modes are available, but the game requires that you're logged in all the time to ensure that your fight money is earned while playing the offline modes. There have been a number of games that have launched with poor online performance, so unfortunately, gamers expect this. Things got better as days rolled on, and the online is more stable, but for a title that has already had four betas covering both PC and PS4, all of which encountered server errors, launching with the same error is embarrassing.

Another surprising thing that's specific to the PC version is the lack of variable control methods. If you're using an Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller, you're fine since wired and wireless models are as responsive as expected. Xbox 360 joysticks are also fine, but the same can't be said for Xbox One joysticks, which tend to be hit-and-miss with the driver, so you might want to search around to confirm compatibility. Keyboard users only have the default buttons to work with, as key remapping isn't available. Those wanting to use a DualShock 4 or any controller or joystick that employs DirectInput are out of luck; they won't be recognized unless you use a program that translates DirectInput to XInput. This is a huge step backward from Ultra Street Fighter IV on PC, since that supported almost everything under the sun. While Capcom is promising to rectify the lack of support, there's no timetable for that yet.

Graphically, what you're looking at is a more polished version of the fourth game. The art style for the characters is mostly the same, but the watercolor shaders and more pronounced outlines are gone, replaced with texturing that shifts toward realism. Particle effects are better but otherwise also try to emulate the look of the previous game. The backgrounds are fine, but beyond places like the Hong Kong streets with semi-interactive neon signs, nothing feels like a step up from the old backgrounds.

The move to Unreal Engine 4 means that the required specs for the game have increased. If you're running a mid- to high-range rig, you should be fine since there are a number of options and a specific low-spec mode to ensure the game's high frame rates and playability. For reference, we ran the game on a Core i5-3550 with 16GB DDR3 1333Mhz RAM and a 2GB Geforce 760 on ultra settings. The fights ran flawlessly, though the pre- and post-match close-ups of characters and some of the Critical Arts scenes experienced some slowdown.

The sound hasn't changed much from the fourth entry, though that isn't a bad thing. The music is rather good, but enough of the new songs are helped along by snippets of familiar tracks. This time around, the game bases the track it wants to play on your opponent, so playing at the same stage doesn't always produce the same song unless you're fighting the same opponent. The effects hit as hard as ever, while the voice work remains solid. The option to switch each individual character from Japanese to English is available from the outset, so you can customize who speaks which language. Both vocal tracks are good, no matter your preference.

Your opinion on Street Fighter V is going to be completely dependent on what you're looking for. If you're into local competition, this game does a great job of upholding what makes the series great while introducing new mechanics and making a few tweaks to make it more inviting for new players. If you're into getting your opposition online, then you'll still be fine even though you'll experience a delay when finding a match every now and then. A few expected things, like a rematch option, aren't available. If you're a fan of single-player modes, then you're pretty much out of luck. With control options on the PC being rather limited, the game is only good for those who care about competition. For everyone else looking for something closer to what the older games provided, give it a month to see if things improve.

Score: 7.0/10

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