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New Street Fighter, innovative but lacks punch

Feb 24, 2016

By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada

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Street Fighter 52008's Street Fighter 4 modernized the beloved fighting game franchise in a number of substantial ways. The titles overhauled look, plus several deviations to the formula, not only helped restore Street Fighters long-lost relevance but also re-established its status as top dog.

It's been a lengthy amount of time since the last proper Street Fighter installment, however, Capcom's approach to re-releases makes the seven-year gap seem non-existent. Over the span of Street Fighter 4's life, Capcom released roughly three iterations of the acclaimed fighter. These releases have introduced new balance tweaks, roster updates and bonus features to keep the title fresh, especially in the competitive scene. Although, the PS4 exclusivity deal has ruffled the feathers of console agnostic gamers, when a new Street Fighter game hits the block people take notice. Several roster leaks and a handful of betas later and Street fighter 5 is finally here. 

Street Fighter 5Street Fighter 5's fine-tuned gameplay has one foot entrenched in familiarity while the other in innovation. Stringing together combos by acquainting yourself with the minutiae of each characters command list feels great. Unlike the previous installment, Street Fighter 5 feels much more concentrated and fast. This is mainly in part due to the V-Gage, easily the most significant alteration in Street Fighter 5. In addition to being its own onscreen meter that fills when the player takes damage, the V-Gage is interconnected with three other components; V-Skills, V-Reversals and V-Triggers. V-Skills are character specific attacks that don't require V-Gage but if executed successfully, build said meter. V-Reversals, as implied by name, are counter attacks that consume V-Gage. V-Triggers are specials that deplete the entire Gage in favour of a tide turning ability or attack. 

The V-Gage and its accompanying systems serve as a welcome replacement for Street Fighter 4's Ultra meter. Though, discovering the workings of it might prove enigmatic to a more casual audience, as Street Fighter 5 ships with an absurdly thin tutorial. The tutorial covers the basic movement and attacks controls but fails to mention how to engage with the newly added systems. It's nothing a quick read on a fan site couldn't rectify but something as simple as a competent tutorial shouldn't be too much to ask for. 

Street Fighter 5Unfortunately, a helpful tutorial isn't the only feature absent from Street Fighter 5. Fans eagerly waiting for the opportunity to fight through a dedicated campaign are going to have to wait a little longer. Street Fighter 5's debut release doesn't come with an overarching story mode.  Though, there are still some narrative tidbits to be found at launch but to say they are a worthy substitute for the lack of the unified campaign would be disingenuous. These narrative fragments come in the form of each character's origin story. Each story can be completed in roughly five to ten minutes and dissatisfy in more ways than just length. The animated stills shown between each fight are poorly animated and the A.I. is pitiful. The only real reason to play each characters origin story is to bank in game currency for use in the online store, another feature that has yet to go live. 

Street Fighter 5While I undoubtedly support games being delayed in favour of more polish, it strikes me as odd that multiple features, instead of the whole product, saw a delay. The Street Fighter series, as well as most other fighting games put story second, and understandably so. Narrative doesn't drive a fighting game. The complexity of the mechanics and the community's involvement are clearly the main contributors to a fighting franchise's longevity but with this said, story modes in fighters still serve as an interesting distraction/tutorial to warm players up for the competitive circuit. 

Additionally, a lack of an arcade mode and legitimate lobby support are also on the ever-growing list of absent features. 

Street Fighter 5The roster this time around is lean. It consists of sixteen total fighters with most of them being returning favourites. The four new fighters fit perfectly in Street Fighter's over-the-top canon and are a joy to play. My personal favourite new-comer is Rashid, an overjoyed yet slightly smug tech enthusiast who utilizes the power of wind to aid him in battle.  When it came to throwing down online, I experienced mostly solid, lag-free fights. There were a couple of instances where matches would be unplayable due to connection issues but in my experience, these type of matches were few and far between. It is important to note, however, that experiences online could vary depending on the stability of the host's internet connection. 

When my time with Street Fighter 5 came to a close, I felt that Capcom sent out the title with the intention of letting it rest on its laurels until they patch in the absent features. Speaking as someone who casually enjoys fighting games, this struck me as both worrying and presumptuous. Hopefully these additions will come to fruition in a meaningful way when they are released in March of this year but as it stands right now, there is simply not enough content in Street Fighter 5 to satisfy anyone other than fighting game aficionados. 

 

Street Fighter 5 Street Fighter 5
Format: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom, Dimps
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://www.streetfighter.com

Rating: 7 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.