It’s no secret that I absolutely love Street Fighter. From the moment I played Street Fighter 2 at arcades and on my home console, the SNES, I knew I had an itch to become a better gamer. The allure of competing with other players in a battle of wits, situational awareness, and complex maneuvers was far too much for me to ignore. That’s why the latest entry in the series, Street Fighter V, has me hopeful. The realist in me remains skeptical as to whether or not it’s going to be a breakaway success, but the fighter in me is telling my cynical side to “stfu!”
Don’t misinterpret my cynicism as negativity towards the title. In all honesty, I’ve had a load of fun trying to predict the character reveals and getting some hands on time with the title’s 3.5 beta phases. Each beta phase introduced different characters, and updates to mechanics including different combo links visual tweaks, including the ever so “controversial” R.Mika butt slap (seriously, not a big deal, but that’s a different conversation for a different time). All in all, the game is fun, deep, and rewarding to those who put in some time to understand its mechanics.
Animations are silky smooth at a rock solid 60 frames per second, with characters dashing, jumping, and hadoken-ing in all of their 1080p glory, with brightness, vibrancy, and highly stylized aesthetics permeating all throughout. Character designs are fairly over the top and tantalizing, on both a character design perspective and a sexuality perspective. I’ll be going in depth more about the detailed aesthetics and rendering techniques on another episode of “Through the Lense”, but all in all, the visuals are breath-taking.
With that said, some people will certainly be off-put by characters being sexualized on both fronts. Both men and women have counterparts to their more conservative characters in their more sexualized versions, with camera angles, costume choices, and bare skin on display. Characters like Laura, Cammy, and R-Mika most certainly show off their characters “assets” more so than characters like Chun li, and Karin, and Zangief, Necalli, and “Hot Ryu” can all be argued as being “sexualized males” in the sense that they’re pretty much completely naked. All in all, how you define their sexualization may have more in relation to the substance behind the characters themselves, vs the way they’re represented, but I digress. Some people will dislike the visual representation of characters, and some will love it.
Mechanically, the game implements new systems that help differentiate it from other fighters, but also includes tried and true base mechanics that Street Fighter vets will recognize. The “V” system is a clever way of incorporating the game title into game mechanics. Amongst this system are “v-skill”, “v-trigger” and “v-reversal”. The V-skill is a character specific skill that will activate an ability, ranging from a specific diagonal jumping attack, to absorbing incoming projectiles. Each of these will help build the v-gauge over time the more you successfully use them. That leads us to the “v-trigger”, which is again specific to each character that will either unleash a 1 time ability, bring you into a state that makes your standard abilities more potent, or in some cases a little bit of both. Players must experiment with both the v skill and the v trigger to discover new ways to wreak havoc on their opponents. V reversals use up a chunk of your v-gauge to get you out of tricky situations, essentially allowing you to counter so you can create some space between you and your opponent, but it must be timed in order to reverse a move.
I have hopes of a cohesive narrative told throughout the story campaign with solid character development, character history, and some interesting plot twists that also segue into the new characters introduced to the series down the road in DLC/character reveals. It would be a real shame to miss an opportunity to further revolutionize the way we think about fighting game narratives. I want to see Laura’s reaction to Shawn leaving to train with Ken Masters instead of with her!
All in all, I’ll be incredibly surprised if Street Fighter V disappoints fans with this latest game. While I hope the new additions to the game help ease newcomers into the series, I hope veterans will find enough in this offering to make this their primary fighting game of choice. I imagine Evo will be just as exciting as ever with this latest entry! As a bonus, there will not be any “Super Street Fighter V” re-releases. The base game you get is the base game everyone uses, and any updates and character add-ons are included in the price of admission. Characters can be unlocked with in game “Fight Money”, so Kudos to Capcom and Sony for being consumer friendly and modernizing their previous (and frankly, ridiculous) business practice in that regard.