It isn’t a secret that Capcom royally screwed up Street Fighter V‘s launch back in February. From minor things such as the servers crapping out every ten minutes and games frequently not connecting, to the complete absence of series staples such as a single player arcade mode, there were plenty of things for fans to get riled up about. A shame really, as the core game was generally up to snuff and more than capable of providing good times.
Months have passed, and things have slowly started to come together for the most part. I’m still a little wary about how the roster is balanced and the fact that my online incursions have still been plagued with a seemingly endless stream of Ryu and Ken players does rub the sheen off it a bit, but it’s getting back to where it should be, little by little. The most recent update however, wasn’t little. It, in fact, contained two returning characters (the kunai slinging kunoichi Ibuki and rampaging boxer Balrog), and the storyline DLC that had been promised since launch.
So, how’s it looking now? Pretty good, when all’s said and done.
The storyline mode’s an amusing knockabout diversion that lasts four hours (or so) without skipping any of the cutscenes — yes, real cutscenes with character models and everything, not the original woefully-illustrated story mode which looked like a complete afterthought. The actual script is insane, of course, as it should be. A bunch of mysterious chess piece things are littered all around, and collecting them all is the key to unlocking unfathomable power. So naturally, everyone starts lamping each other in the face to get their grubby little hands on them.
Nearly everyone acquits themselves well (with the exception of Juri who remains repulsively annoying throughout her brief scenes) and it’s all just big, dumb fun. Zangief in particular is great, enthusing about the joys of attaining ‘Muscle Power’, and there are enough silly scenes to keep things entertaining as it shifts from character to character. Urien is woefully underused though – his swanky new suit alone makes him about a thousand times cooler than he was back in Third Strike. A nice touch is that it’s possible to use both Urien and Juri briefly during this mode, and it’s safe to say that Urien’s a must-play when he finally gets released. He’s got a cool fighting style, no doubt about it.
As for the two new additions, I like both of them but can’t see myself using either one seriously. Ibuki, replete with an awesome costume redesign, is a speedy combo-and-mix-up fighter. Her iconic sliding, neck snapping throw is nowhere to be seen, but she’s capable of hurling out comically huge bombs which add enough airtime for short aerial combinations whenever they hit their target. She also has to manage her inventory of kunai now, and reload them once when they run out.
Balrog’s also quite different from his previous incarnations – first impressions seem to indicate that he’s less defensive, and now more focused on assault. He can sway in and out to avoid projectiles or confuse opponents, and his V-Trigger allows for a whole bunch of punches to be unleashed in a row. Some of his subtleties passed me by as I’ve never been a Balrog player, but he seems reasonably powerful and flows well.
Something else that finally landed is the ability to spend real money for characters and costumes rather than purchasing them with fight money. The Zenny balance has disappeared from sight (originally intended to be sort of a Capcom Funds Wallet) and now it’s just a case of paying our however much each costume costs. A fair amount of them can still be bought with in-game currency for anyone willing to grind out the soul-sappingly tedious survival modes, but premium and special costumes can only be bought with real money. They’re a bit too expensive in my opinion – about four to eight bucks a pop. The most recent stage, ‘Ring of Destiny’ is also a ridiculous ten dollars. I repeat, ten dollars for one stage. Ouch.
Questionable pricing aside, the core game remains enjoyable. In terms of overall value it’s facing tough competition from rival games such as Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator and The King of Fighters XIV which both come packed to the gills with playable fighters and additional content from day one, but Street Fighter V still has a solid fighting engine and is continually, if slowly, expanding its offerings as it matures. Oh, and Guile’s remixed theme, released before this most recent patch, is absolutely superb.
Now, how about one of those ‘single player arcade modes’ I’ve been hearing about, Capcom? Go on. Spoil us just a little.