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The legendary fighting franchise returns

Quite possibly, the best fighting franchise to date is back with its latest iteration—Street Fighter V. First, revealed during the 2014 PlayStation Experience, Capcom shocked the gaming world when they announced Street Fighter V was a PlayStation 4 and PC exclusive game. Built using the Unreal Engine 4 and featuring cross-platform play that will unite fans into a centralized player base for the first time ever; the anticipation for Street Fighter V hit an all-time high after gamers participated in the closed beta this past year.

Game Details

Platform: PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Developer: Capcom, Dimps
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Fighting
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

New and returning challengers

Capcom has done an excellent job of offering a diverse range of characters throughout the history of the Street Fighter franchise, and Street Fighter V does not disappoint. Right out of the box, Street Fighter V offers 16 playable characters that deliver endless fighting fun for beginners and veterans alike.

There is something here for everyone; fan favourites from the Street Fighter II era making their triumphed return include Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Cammy, Vega, Zangief, Dhalsim, and M. Bison. While on the other hand, characters not playable since the Street Fighter Alpha generation Birdie, Nash, R. Mika, and Karin make their long-awaited return. Thanks to the power of the Unreal Engine 4, each character has an amazing amount of detail and animation that is quite impressive.

Newcomers Necalli, Rashid, Laura, and F.A.N.G join the Street Fighter franchise to round out 16-character roster. Surprisingly, I found myself favouring F.A.N.G and Necalli over the other fighters in the roster. F.A.N.G has a certain charm in addition to his drunken master style along with his poison gimmick that I fell in love with. In contrast, Necalli is an absolute beast! He is inspired by Aztec imagery, big, mean, powerful and can virtually rip anyone to shreds. I love them both!

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An all-new battle system

Street Fighter V stays close to the tried and true formula using its patented 6-button attack fight system that has made the series popular for more than 20 years. You’ll be treated to a tutorial before getting into the game, which is perfect for newcomers and a quick refresh for veterans. Street Fighter V’s main additions in the battle system come via the V-System and Critical Arts.

V-System (or Variable System)

Adding a layer of strategy and depth to Street Fighter V, the V-System consists of three core mechanics: V-Skill, V-Reversal, and V-Trigger. Located on your character’s side of the screen above your EX bar, the V-Gauge consists of  two or three bars depending on which character you are using. For instance, Ryu and Cammy both have 2 bars, while Birdie and M. Bison have 3 bars. Each time you use your V-Skill, V-Trigger, or block your opponents attacks your character’s V-Gauge will fill up.

The V-Skill varies per character, can be used any time during, and won’t deplete your V-Gauge. Just by pressing medium punch and medium kick buttons simultaneously, you can easily perform your V-Skill ability/attack. Take for example M. Bison, his V-Skill allows him to absorb oncoming projectiles such as fireballs, and in turn increases his V-Gauge. The neat part about M. Bison’s V-Skill is that if you keep both buttons pressed he’ll fire back an explosive damaging Psycho Shot to his enemy. A sight to be seen!

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V-Reversals are Street Fighter V’s version of Alpha Counters from the Street Fighter Alpha series. It’s a counter-attack that can be used while guarding against your opponents onslaught of attacks. Performed by pressing forward and all three punch or kick buttons, the V-Reversal can quickly create space between your opponent. If a V-Reversal is used when your opponent is on the ground, it will push them just outside of throw range. On the other hand, if a V-Reversal is used when your opponent is airborne, they’ll get knocked down and thrown further away.

Your character’s V-Trigger is available when your V-Gauge meter is full. Activated by pressing heavy punch and heavy kick together, the V-Trigger allows your character to power up, allowing for faster movement and higher damage on various attacks. Your character’s special moves also become heightened with different properties. One of my favourite V-Trigger enhancements are Ryu’s Denjin Fireballs, they become unlockable, move across the screen faster, and create a momentary stun if your opponent tries to block it. When activated, the V-Gauge starts to drain slowly, however there are a few factors that can shorten the length of V-Trigger once it’s activated. For instance, Cammy uses up some of her V-Trigger gauge by using special moves, especially if the opponent blocks them.

Critical Arts

The most powerful attacks in Street Fighter V are called Critical Arts. These flashy, multi-hit special moves require a maxed out EX Gauge and can be used to absolutely annihilate your opponent. Take a look at the video below and see just how awesome the new V-System and Critical Arts are in action.

Single-player content not ready for prime time just yet

For those looking for a significant single-player experience prepare to be disappointed. At its current state, Street Fighter V’s single player experience is light on content. You get a training mode to practice your moves against a computer opponent, a survival mode to see how long you can survive against an onslaught of computer opponents, and a bare bones story mode.

Each character’s story consists of three or four single round matches with static art panels telling the story in-between fights. You can easily clear all 16 prologues in a few hours at most. If you skip the cut-scenes, you’re looking at about 30-40 minutes to complete all the characters stories.

In any case, you shouldn’t dismiss the story mode in its current state. By completing all of the single-player content, you will earn Fight Money that can be used to buy costume or individual DLC characters through the shop when it opens in March.

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Another fight is coming your way

The fantastic news is that Street Fighter V’s online component is nothing short of astounding! For the first time in franchise history PlayStation, and PC players can play against each other in a singled unified online community. Capcom is dedicated to offering the ultimate online experience, and since launch have made several tweaks and updates to the game servers. In my past week and a half with the game, I found load times to be minimal and only experienced a few hiccups here and there—minor latency in a few matches.

There are several network battle modes currently included in Street Fighter V. One of the most popular modes is the Ranked match, which allows you to play against opponents based on League Points. These are earned after an online battle, and are based upon your performance. The second mode is the Casual match, which allows you to battle without worry of rankings and League Points are not. Finally, the Battle lounge allows you to create a lobby and battle with others.

Finding online matches is effortless and goes beyond just going into the online modes and searching for opponents. There is a cool feature called Network Match Fight Request, once enabled it allows you to constantly search for online opponents while playing other modes. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Before going online, you’ll have to create a fighter profile where you will select your favourite fighter, costume, and preferred stage. This is both a good and bad thing, because unless you quit out of a matchmaking search you’ll be stuck using the same fighter every time.

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Post Launch Support

Compared to the launch of previous Street Fighter games, Street Fighter V feels a little lacking. However, Capcom has promised continual updates over the course of 2016 and beyond. For starters, there are plans to add additional playable characters Alex, Guile, Ibuki, Balrog, Juri, and Urien —bringing the total roster up from 16 to 22 by the end of 2016.

Moreover, new costumes, challenges, a spectator mode, support for larger lobbies, balance system updates, and a full-fledged cinematic story mode are all coming to Street Fighter V in 2016. The best part about it is that none of these updates or DLC will cost you a single cent. Way to go Capcom!

 Final thoughts

Street Fighter V is a game that is constantly evolving and thus left me in a bit of a pickle on how to score it. In its launch state, Street Fighter V is lacking some of the features that Street Fighter IV had at launch. On the other hand, Capcom has committed to a constant supply of updates that will overtime make an already great game even better.

For the few looking to pick up Street Fighter V primarily for its single player content, I would recommend waiting until this summer when the full-fledged cinematic story mode update is available. I can confidently say that Street Fighter V in its launch state offers enough to keep online fighting game fanatics satisfied. In addition, it also offers a greater sense of simplicity, and in turn offers a better point of entry for newcomers and casual players.

+ Gorgeous HD graphics with a rock-solid 60FPS
+ V-Trigger systems adds a layer of depth and strategy to the franchise
+ Great variety of characters
+ Great online multi-player experience
+ In-game currency can be used to purchase additional DLC 

– Single-player content is lacking
– Several features not ready at launch

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 4/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5

Overall Rating 4.25/5 (85%)

Get Street Fighter V for PlayStation 4
Get Street Fighter V Collector’s Edition for PlayStation 4