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Street Fighter 5

Having waited for five months to see how things would turn out, I feel ready to give an opinion on Street Fighter 5 (SFV).

SFV is one of the most disappointing purchases I have ever made, and an insult to fighting game lovers everywhere. They’ve squandered the most-loved fighting game IP/series and almost everything about it has been done better by other games – many of them by smaller teams on smaller budgets, years ago.

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Now I’m a fan of fighting games. I know they’re not particularly sophisticated emotionally (which is kind of what my PhD research is about), but I love the systems in them and I like having something to learn and improve at. So I’ve started getting back into them I preordered SFV (even though I hadn’t registered interest in time for the open-beta which took place in the 6 months or so before release). I was excited about it, but was very soon disappointed.

What I didn’t realise is that there wasn’t an arcade mode to be had in SFV. I cannot think of another fighting game that has ever been released without a single-player arcade mode. What were Capcom thinking?

“Okay, maybe that’s going to be coming out soon in an update.” But several updates have been and gone, including a ‘major’ update for June, which delivered an abysmally atrocious story mode of about 3 hours long.

So why is the lack of arcade mode such a big deal?

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As a casual fighting game player (because I have a life and have lots of other things to do with that life), arcade mode is not a nice to have, it’s a necessity. The online matchmaking is poor and takes forever. As a time-poor adult I don’t want to be waiting round to get into a game, I want it to start RIGHT NOW (I’m already ruing the decision to buy it on disc rather than by download, seeing as it’s also slow in loading into matches). I’m not fusssed about how the computer AI doesn’t react like a human – I’m not good enough to care. Why can’t I also have a computer arcade mode to battle through and feel like I’m achieving something, rather than sporadic bouts vs. humans all the time?

There have been several people online complaining about people like me, essentially saying that I’m not dedicated enough to deserve to be listened to and get what I quite reasonably expected from a modern day AAA release. That SFV isn’t made for ‘dirty casuals’ like me. But Capcom made a great big thing about trying to get new blood into the scene and enlarge the fan base, so I’m amazed that there is next to nothing for people to play, unless you had a regularly committed group of friends who played together and/or were happy to wait/deal with slow connection and laggy servers.

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Add to this, SFV looks like toilet. Graphics are jaggy, colours are over-saturated, animation is janky and hair and necklaces etc. clip through bodies. It’s the standard that you’d expect of a beta, but certainly not a final release at any level. Most indies working on a shoe-string budget release games of better quality than this, graphics wise. Plus it’s made in the Unreal Engine – a top quality engine used by many other developers (large and small) without these glitches. This means that USFIV, made with a custom engine, looks better than SFV made in the UnReal engine – which is far more developed and better-supported.

And what, is going on, with all the boobs and sexualisation?! Isn’t that the only reason why Dead or Alive exists?! If you want your game to appeal to more people, don’t turn half of them off with appalling representation of women.

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Now, there is something good about SFV – the new V-system, which replaces the overly complicated system of Focus Attacks etc. from Ultra Street Fighter 4 (USFIV) is really good. It’s simpler, easier to get to grips with, and the differing V-system for each character makes each of them more nuanced and different to each other, which is good. I also think the reduced cast helps with this – it’s not overwhelming and there are fewer characters to learn how to play as or against.

But there’s nothing there to help me learn it. There’s no tutorials on each character, there’s nothing there to tell me how each character’s V-Skill work. There’s nothing on how fighting games work – nothing on anti-airs and when to use them, footsies (which is more important in this version), strategy, what to do when you’re in a corner. Nothing on fighting game grammar at all. Why? BlazBlue has had detailed guides to all aspects of its games for years, as has Skullgirls (a small team with a much smaller budget), and Guilty Gear Xrd (and possibly Guilty Gear XX before it, I wouldn’t know though).

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So whilst the systems are good, the lack of arcade mode is unforgivable and the rubbish internet play (which is meant to replace the lacking single-player component) is no fun to deal with. The production values are woeful, the story mode is tragic and a waste of time – it makes me think they cannot have possibly played a NetherRealm game like Mortal Kombat 9 (2011), Injustice (2013) or Mortal Kombat X (2015), nevermind the BlazBlue or Guilty Gear series – both having done an in-depth story mode for YEARS. There is no tutorial or way to help you get to grips with the game, meaning that the only people playing it are the die-hard fans with too much time on their hands, in a genre that is already very niche.

I tried out Guilty Gear Xrd Sign (yeah, the old one that’s over 2 years old) the other day. Picked it up for £15. Ten times the fun of SFV, with in-depth story modes, tutorials, character and strategy explanations, not to mention more interesting character designs that are more fun and varied to play. Now GG Xrd is more complicated systems wise, but you don’t have to use all those systems all the time. Anyway, the latest one – Revelator, has introduced a system where easy of pulling off combos is balanced against health – meaning that everyone, regardless of experience is on a more level playing field. This is by a smaller developer with a far more niche IP and less budget.

Capcom should try playing it.

Comment (1)

  1. That’s a smart way of thnkniig about it.

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