It's been a long time coming. Indeed, after ten whole months—ten grueling
fucking months—into the release of Capcom's latest installment to their fabled fighting game franchise (of which I've always been a huge fan of), the first season of Street Fighter V
is finally in the bag—dead and rotting. The Season 2 patch was released a mere three days of this writing—and boy, it feels DAMN good to say that. Even if you've only been casually
observing this game over the past year, one thing should remain very clear to everyone: Street Fighter V
is a hot-ass mess.
The initial release of Street Fighter V
was well-publicized as one of the worst video game launches of all time
. Personally, I'm convinced that it was
the worst launch of all time—across ALL genres—and in this review, I will explain to you exactly why in thorough detail. I'll also be delving into how the game currently holds up today. With all the updates, features, and new characters that Capcom has been adding over the course of 2016, the game has evolved into a much different game than it used to be—though it was a long, bumpy road to reach this point.
Even if you have no interest in Street Fighter
as a franchise, I urge you to read this entire season overview anyway, because the sheer, unrepentant ineptitude of Capcom as a video game developer is quite the fucking spectacle, and you'll be blessing your lucky stars that your
favorite game is not managed by this absolute joke of a company.
This is equal parts game review and spiteful corporate invective—and like the Balrog player I am, I won't be pulling any punches.
- An Ode to Street Fighter IV -
In order to fully grasp the disappointment (and utter rage) people felt over SFV's release, it helps to take a look at the legacy of its long-standing forerunner: Street Fighter IV
This game, originally released in Japanese arcades in mid-2008, can be pretty much accredited to single-handedly resuscitating the dying fighting game genre—which was widely thought at the time to be on its deathbed, at least in terms of mainstream popularity. Titles such as Tekken 5
and Street Fighter III: Third Strike
, while both excellent and commercially successful games in their own right, were starting to get a little old and stagnant. Other good titles, such as Virtua Fighter 5
in 2007, sold like AIDS-infested lollipops. As a result, numbers began to dwindle in each of their respective communities—which were already extremely niche to begin with. It was as though fighting games were just a thing of the '90s and that no one really gave a fuck about them anymore.
That is, until Street Fighter IV
came along and saved the world.
...Yes, that's actually the song they used for the intro.
Anyway, 2008 was sort of the Year of Nostalgia-baiting for Capcom. They dropped Mega Man 9
, Bionic Commando
, and Street Fighter IV
all in the same year—SF4 being the most hotly anticipated, given the nine-year gap
between it and the legendary SF3: Third Strike. In less than two months, it sold over three million copies worldwide. The following year, it was featured at the Evolution Championship Series (EVO)—basically, the Superbowl of fighting games—with over 1000 competitors, tripling the number of attendees for the second most popular game. Needless to say, fighting games were back.
The success of SF4 can be chalked up to many things, but perhaps the most important thing is this: The game struck a perfect balance of between casual and competitive-based content. Had the game been handled like SF3, with a small selection of weird, new, unfamiliar characters, a bizarre fusion of hip hop and jazz for its soundtrack, and unwelcoming, highly-technical gameplay, SF4 probably would've garnered lukewarm sales just like Tekken 6
, released a year before. But with a smart advertising campaign that emphasized the SF2-inspired gameplay, visual style, and the return of old fan-favorite characters like M. Bison, Blanka, Zangief, etc, Capcom ensured early on that SF4 would have a long shelf life for both casual fans and competitive players alike.
Admittedly, it also probably helps that Capcom's infamous yet tried-and-true practice of re-releasing the same game with big updates was in full-force with SF4. In fact, here's an incomplete list of them:
|2008||Street Fighter IV||- 25 characters (six more than the arcade version)|
- 17 stages spanning 6 continents
- SF2-esque Arcade mode with bonus levels and hidden boss fights
- "Trial mode," where one can learn and practice some highly-demanding combos and links
- Online multiplayer (even Virtua Fighter 5 didn't have this)
- Dynamic new combo system (dubbed the "Focus" system)
- A "Revenge Meter" allowing you to perform high-damage "Ultra Combos" in a pinch
|2010||Super Street Fighter IV||- 10 new characters|
- Balance overhaul for all characters
- Each character can now select between two Ultra Combos, similar to Third Strike
- 5 new stages
- New online features, such as Endless Battle
- The ability to save and share battle replays online
|2010||Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition||- 4 new characters|
- Balance overhaul for all characters
|2014||Ultra Street Fighter IV||- 5 new characters (4 ported over from Street Fighter x Tekken)|
- The ability to choose both of your character's Ultra Combos (but with less damage)
- Revamped Focus system, adding "Red Focus," allowing for even trickier combos and defensive tactics
- When your character is knocked down, you now have the option to delay your wake-up
- Balance overhaul for all characters
- 6 new stages
- Online Training Mode
- Replays can now be uploaded to YouTube
- "Edition Select," where players can select older, un-patched versions of their character for casual play
The complete, finalized roster for Ultra Street Fighter IV
Initially, SF4 was criticized by a lot of hardcore purists for being too "slow," too "accessible," and catering too heavily to the softcore crowd. The metagame favored defensive, patient play, which was quite the departure from Third Strike, which had a heavier emphasis on lightning-fast, hyper-aggressive gameplay. However, in hindsight, these criticisms have mostly been written off, and many people look back to SF4's meta with a sense of reverence—and many top players, including the legendary Alex Valle, cite the game as one of their favorites in the series.
Despite what a lot of its detractors have said in the early days, to play the game well still
requires you to have very nimble fingers and a strong sense of timing. There are certain moves where you only have one sixtieth
of a second to link it together with another move, and being able to execute these techniques consistently and in high-pressure situations has always been sanctioned as a test of true skill, and something that makes the game truly great: the player's own capacity to perform well against others. It's no button-masher.
Perhaps the two biggest and most notable issues about the Street Fighter IV
metagame were with regards to its shaky character balance and the preponderance of "50/50 vortex" gameplay. I'll try to explain "vortexes" later; let's talk about the game's balance first. SF4 has never been a balanced game—there has always been a very distinct line between the characters that are "good," or tournament-viable, and the characters that are "bad." Whether a character is good or bad has a great deal to do with his or her match-ups—which is to say, there tends to be a crude rock-paper-scissors relationship between the entire roster. Or at least, that's the ideal. Instead, what you get is a handful of characters who are so
underpowered, they can't really hold their own against anybody (Dee Jay), and characters who are so
strong, they completely overshadow characters of the same archetype, making them completely redundant or obsolete (like the relationship between Evil Ryu and Ryu in USF4).
However, in spite of all that, there are still many character loyalists who outright refuse
to play anybody but their own personal choice, or their own personal favorite character. Many top players, such as Bruce "GamerBee" Hsiang and Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez, have stuck with their own characters regardless of where they end up on the tier lists. To them, their character sort of embodies not just their playstyle, but who they are
—which is part of what makes Street Fighter
such a beautiful game. How you play the game is a form of self-expression. Everyone has their own favorite character, color, costume—and most importantly, their own unique playstyle. From the best players, you can really see their personalities bursting through their gameplay. You can choose to play a traditionally defensive character in an offensive way. You can tell when a player is getting angry, desperate, cocky, confident, playful, scared, exhausted—or even trolling
—all through their actions in the game alone, without even looking at their face. And anyone—and I mean anyone
—could pick up, play, and express themselves with it. It's a truly beautiful thing, and perhaps the thing I value the very most out of Street Fighter IV
...But, yeah, all that said, it was never a perfectly designed game. The dreaded vortex shit still needs to be brought up—and I could probably get into Capcom's shitty DLC practices for alternate costumes, too, but I won't get into that.
"Vortex" gameplay is a little difficult to explain without getting too technical, but in essence, there's a select few characters in SF4 who can put you into these sticky situations dubbed "vortexes." Essentially, if you have a character with high mix-up potential and an airborne projectile, such as Akuma or Ibuki, you can force your opponent into a situation where they have to pick between blocking
(preventing your opponent from throwing you) in a high-pressure situation. Since throws cannot be blocked, and getting your own throw attempt counter-hit means certain death for you, these situations can be rather daunting and mentally strenuous, and for the longest time, there was no real strategy to best avoid this. It's called a 50/50—either you block your opponent's attacks (only to get immediately thrown), or you attempt a throw-tech, whiff completely, and eat a high-damage combo. Both of these situations will end up with you receiving a hard-knockdown, which puts you back in the same situation all over again. Hence "vortex."
Many people find tactics like this highly toxic to the meta, because they tend to reduce the fight into a simple, mindless guessing game rather than a test of skill. Ultra Street Fighter IV
attempted to balance thi by adding the ability to delay your wake-up after getting knocked down, so as to fuck with your opponent's timing, making vortex setups a lot more difficult and less reliable. Vortexes were still very possible, however; players simply have another option to help them escape those situations easier.
Though far from perfect, SF4 proved itself to be a lustrous entry in the SF series, introducing a whole new generation of fighting game fans to the market and ushering in a new era for the genre as a whole. Other fighting game franchises such as Mortal Kombat
and even Killer Instinct
came back from their respective graves soon after. Without SF4, it's hard to say whether they'd ever come back—especially KI.
At the end of its lifespan, SF4 left over 40 unforgettable characters and a near-eight year legacy of hearty competition behind it. Needless to say, we were just about ready to move on. We needed a new game for a new season, a new era, a new age. With Street Fighter V
on the horizon, there was a lot to live up and look forward to.
No one would've ever expected Capcom to drop the ball as hard as they did.
- The Trailer -It's hard to believe the first reveal trailer for Street Fighter V was released a little over two years ago
, but it's true. Shortly after Capcom released their final update for USF4, which was rumored to be a "testing ground" for SFV (called "Omega Mode
"—a free, just-for-fun update that turned the entire game on its head, giving all the characters a bunch of nutty and overpowered moves), the first official trailer was shown at the 2014 PlayStation Experience. But not before it was accidentally leaked on YouTube, of course.
The trailer features a graphically-enhanced Ryu preparing to fight an equally-enhanced Chun-Li out on a bustling side street in China. As they engage in combat, they show off their special moves and new attack animations before something unique happens: Chun-Li corners Ryu and smashes him into the restaurant on the left—a stage KO, kinda like in Mortal Kombat. Huh, this has never really been done in Street Fighter
Then you read the text, "Console exclusivity on the Playstation®
4 system." While they did end up porting the game over to PC, Xbox One players are still left without an SF experience on their console. Which is deeply, deeply unfortunate.
Anyway, so you get done watching the trailer, and you're like, "Huh. That didn't look too bad. The character models don't look like Gumby-esque meatheads
anymore, and the animations look pretty good, even though they're kinda slow and stiff. But hey, it's still in development—they'll definitely fix that. And how about that cool stage KO? I can't wait to see more footage."
And more footage we got—along with Charlie Nash
being teased during an extended cut of the first trailer at Capcom Cup 2014, we were also presented with the first-ever exhibition match
, showing off some raw, uncut gameplay. This new footage gave a lot for competitive players to chew on, but it also expanded upon the stage KO concept: When Chun-Li gets KO'd during the second round of the second match, you see a bowl of noodles fall on top of her head—which remains there for the duration of the match
. This has no effect in-game except for sheer humiliation. This is a good sign, because it adds an element of levity, humor, and personality to the game—something that Street Fighter
has never had a shortage of, but this is definitely a creative addition that's genuinely funny. It sure would be dope if all stages ended up with their own special stage KOs.
Soon, the buzz and hype building up around this game became insurmountable—especially with various comments made by the game's executive producer, Yoshinoro Ono.
"We've been hard at work on Street Fighter 5, and we promise this game, this product, will be the one that brings fighting games into the next era," said Ono, through a translator.And later
"This will be a huge step for us and our community," he added.
"Every single character in the game will be more unique than you'd ever expect," said Ono.
"(Street Fighter 5) is going to be a title that caters to fans, of course, but one that also invites completely new players onto the scene. Street Fighter 4 was about reviving a passion. Street Fighter 5 is about growing that passion.”
In March 2015, SFV was slated for a 2016 spring release.
From this point forward, we played the waiting game—and wait we did, as Capcom continued to periodically release new trailers and drop bits and pieces of new info for the fans to chew on.
A small collage of news articles gathered from EventHubs
Prior to the game's release, sixteen playable fighters were revealed:
Returning veterans Ryu, Chun-Li, Nash, M. Bison
, Cammy, Birdie
, R. Mika
, and Dhalsim
over the course of 2015.
Also revealed were four brand new characters:Necalli
, a mysterious, antagonistic rage beast who can go into a Super Saiyan-like state during battle;Laura
, a green-clad Brazilian bonita specializing in Matsuda Jiu-Jitsu (while sporting a trashy outfit);Rashid
, an energetic Middle Eastern dudebro who uses dizzying, wind-based attacks;
and finally, F.A.N.G
, a freakishly tall, lanky, and eccentric Chinese man who utilizes poison, serving as another villain.
Normally, I'm the kind of person who embraces all new characters with open arms—but Capcom was really starting to grind my gears with all these sexually-pandering female characters. R. Mika in particular is fucking ridiculous
, and I almost considered not even buying the game solely
because of her presence in the game. She even had an animation during her Super Combo (or "Critical Art," as they are now called) where she slaps her ass for the camera—complete with an audible SMACK
—before she calls her tag-team partner Nadeshiko to perform the combo. This was considered gratuitous enough to be censored out of the retail edition, much to the anger of many a lonely virgin.
* FEMINIST RANT INBOUND *
SKIP IF HAVING RESPECT FOR WOMEN TRIGGERS YOU
Now, Street Fighter
has never been known to design their female characters with any level respect or dignity, but at least the worst of the worst have always been relegated to the more obscure games, like Street Fighter Alpha
. Putting such a grotesquely gratuitous character in one of the main core installments was almost too much for my prudish sensibilities to handle. Sorry guys—I came hear to play a fighting game, not jack off to R. Mika's breasts. Removing the slap was an excellent
decision, and no, it doesn't count as censorship if they decided to remove it themselves.
Which they did. Suck a cock.
Funnily enough, she also became one of the most toxic characters in the game for competitive reasons, too—but we'll get into that soon enough. I can't believe I've been typing this long, and I haven't even gotten to the review yet...
R. Mika wasn't the only character whose design I had problems with, either. One of the debut characters, F.A.N.G, was rather polarizing as well. People either love or hate his silly, alien design—I loathed him at first, but he's sort of grown on me over time. Classic mainstay characters such as Ryu's eternal rival, Ken Masters, went over a complete
overhaul in terms of their appearance, to... Mixed
Really, Capcom? Are you fucking kidding me with that?
KEN!? Is that you? What in fuck's name happened to your face???
Still, while I genuinely think they dropped the ball majorly on some of these character designs, I wasn't gonna let that aspect kill the game for me. The gameplay itself was looking great—which appeared to reward offensive, rush-down based playstyles and very high damage outputs for a great deal of the cast. Just what every fighting game fan likes... Right? Well, a while a handful of top players
have their worries and misgivings, it seemed undeniable that the new mechanics (which we'll go over in the review) still look fresh and interesting. And that's not even getting into the gorgeous, detailed stages and excellent soundtrack.
We also received some good news from a marketing standpoint: The Street Fighter V disc you receive on purchase is the only disc you'll ever need for the game.
That means there won't be a Super Street Fighter V
, Street Fighter V: Turbo
, or a Super Mega Ultra Street Fighter V: HD Remix
. Or, if there is, you won't have to purchase that to have the full experience. All the game's content and updates will be retrievable through free patches and DLC. This is great news for everybody, and it also kills the stupid "Yeah, looks fun, but I'll wait for Super Ultra Mega Street Fighter V
to come out first." To this day, however, there are still some ignorant tools out there who make this joke. For shame.
Anyways, in mid-June of last year, we were finally given a release date: February 2nd, 2016 (later delayed to the 16th).
That's... earlier than we all expected. Way
earlier. Before Street Fighter V
was even announced, there were even rumors circulating that the game could take until 2019 to be released. But here we are, given a winter release three years in advance. Does Capcom know what they're doing here?
Along with a release date, we were also given a date range for the first-ever beta session, where players online could download a demo version of the game, test it out, and give the developers some feedback. I think this is the first time a beta test has ever been held for a new Capcom title, which is strange: Steet Fighter
is a competitive game, first and foremost, so it only makes sense to want to receive developer feedback, right? I personally never took advantage of these beta tests, because I felt like they would kinda cheapen the experience for me when the game is finally out. I was still glad to see that they were being held at all, though, because ultimately, it'll only help the game from a competitive standpoint.
In theory, at least.
- The Launch -
So the game comes out, and everyone's like,WHAT THE FUCK?!
And RIGHTFULLY so. This game came out in such an infamously emaciated state that it's almost hilarious—if not for the fact that they were essentially swindling people $60 a pop for a game that amounts to nothing more than a fucking tech demo. I don't even know where to start.
Let's try to get the positives out of the way first. It should be a lot easier.1. Solid gameplay
Credit where credit is due: Capcom developed a pretty fun Street Fighter
game that stayed true to its roots while offering a lot to differentiate itself from other titles in the series. The core gameplay is all there. Notable new features include the newly-implemented V-system (get it—V as in Street Fighter V
) gives each character a specialized technique that they can only use when their V-gauge is filled up during battle. The primary method to fill this gauge is to take damage, making it similar to SF4's Revenge Meter, but instead of serving as an outright comeback mechanic, each character's V-trigger can be used to turn the tide of battle in a variety of ways.
For example: Ryu's V-trigger activates "Denjin mode," which electrifies his fists, increasing the damage of his Shoryuken while giving new properties to his Hadoken, including the ability to charge it for extra damage, and the dangerous ability to break your opponent's guard when fully charged. Nash's V-trigger is quite different—it gives him a get-out-of-jail-free card when backed into a corner, letting him teleport away instantly when cornered. Apart from V-triggers, you can also spend one meter on your V-gauge to perform a V-reversal when someone attacks you. This is a defensive maneuver that does a very small amount of recoverable damage, but knocks the opponent away, which is useful if they're applying too much pressure on you.
Characters are also given their own unique V-skill, which also builds V-gauge when used successfully. These skills can be performed at any time, unlike V-triggers. Ryu's V-skill gives him the ability to parry attacks, Third Strike
style, an offensive yet risky form of blocking that allows him to act very quickly after guarding himself from an attack. Ken's V-skill causes him to run forward very quickly, which can be canceled in order to dizzy his opponents and keep them on their toes.
Another key feature that's become one of my favorites is the Crush Counter system. Counter-hits are nothing new to the series—essentially, if you strike your opponent before your opponent's attack hits you, you score a "counter-hit." Counter-hits yield extra damage, stun, and hitstun—the number of frames it takes for your opponent to reel back and recover after being hit. The longer it takes for your opponent to recover, the easier it is for you to land extra attacks for a devastating combo. As such, counter-hits have held a very important place in Street Fighter
for a long time—especially in 4.
In 5, there are certain attacks in each character's arsenal that can induce "Crush Counters." In essence, they're simply counter-hits on steroids. As well as being able to do extra damage, the hitstun induced by crush counters is immense, allowing for extremely hard-hitting combos to follow. Some crush counters have special properties, such as launching the opponent in midair, making them even more vulnerable. They also make a distinct CRACK
-ing noise when pulled off, coupled with some nice visual effects, making them extremely satisfying to land.
16 characters may be a large drop-off from USF4's 44, but from a strict gameplay standpoint, I think this is one of the few things the game really delivered on. Remarkably, the game was—relatively speaking—highly balanced for a fighting game of its caliber. In most fighting games, there's typically a huge disparity with the high tiers and low tiers, but SFV had a pretty well-rounded cast at launch.
The game's emphasis on hyper-aggressive slobberknocking was very welcome, in my opinion. I don't mind defensive play, but for the first time since SF3, the game feels quite fast-paced again. If there's one negative thing I can say about it, however, is that it's not a particularly deep
fighter. It's extremely easy to pick up and play, because combos have been made so lenient for a lot of characters. What may have taken you weeks to master in SF4 can be mastered in SF5 in a couple hours. It's that
The netcode was pretty bad, but honestly, can you think of a single game that doesn't have latency issues? I sure as fuck can't. I think the ability to do cross-play between PS4 and PC is dope as fuck and more than makes up for the game's imperfect online experience—which have only improved since day one.
Still, the game itself was very fun for a competitive-oriented player such as myself. Not deep, not very complex, and perhaps a little too "basic," but a fun game to play for a couple hours.2. The SoundtrackStreet Fighter V
has the best soundtrack since Third Strike
. Whereas SF4 was highly criticized for having perhaps one of the weakest soundtracks in the series, SFV delivers on a number of levels.
Naturally, each characters has their own theme. I've picked out some of my favorites:
Favorite character themes
Hell, even the main menu theme kicks ass:
In addition to character themes, each stage has its own theme, too—but they're no ordinary themes. They change depending on what's happening in the fight. You have your basic Round 1 and Round 2 themes, but when a character has low health, it starts getting more intense, kinda like in Killer Instinct
, just to add a little more dramatic tension to every battle.
So, yeah, definitely satisfied on the music front... But then we get to everything else.3. A complete and utter lack of features
I hope you're all still with me. This is where it gets good, my friends.
The #1 thing that everybody got so pissed about with this game is that it was so fucking incomplete. As many people have pointed out, there isn't even a fucking Arcade Mode—you know, the fundamental basis for the single-player fighting game experience? The feature that allows you to show yourself the ropes of your character? Nowhere to be found in the game. It boggles the mind.
The features that were
available at launch were slipshod and threadbare. You have a Versus Mode, which allows you to play a match with someone locally—if the game didn't have that
, this would've been the worst game ever—a Survival Mode, where you continuously face enemies and defeat them one by one. This is how you unlock costume colors. In SF4, you unlocked colors simply by using your character—now you have to earn them by playing this shitty, frustrating mode where the first ten opponents are braindead easy and the last ten are on crazily insane amounts of adderall—nearly impossible to defeat without using some kind of cheese tactic. It's fucking stupid.
Of course, there's also a standard Training Mode, which is honestly pretty robust, but not of any real use for a casual player. Then, finally, there's the Story Mode—which isn't even a real Story Mode, because the General Story wasn't even fucking released yet. Instead, the sixteen characters all get a short prologue, just to introduce you to their characters or some shit. They come in the form of cheap visual novels. The voice acting and dialogue are all corny as shit, but that's kinda part of the appeal—Since SF4, the dialogue has always drawn inspiration from old, poorly-dubbed kung-fu movies, so the cheesiness is to be laughed at, not criticized.
However, the prologues themselves only take about three minutes apiece to complete, and yield very little when completed. You'll fight two or three other characters—none of whom put up a fight whatsoever. Seriously. Some of them just STAND there. And once you've defeated these two or three characters, you've completed the prologue. What a fucking joke.
Attempting to go online during the first few days of launch would be met with errors, server failures, horrible netcode, and intolerably long loading times—only to play one quick, laggy-ass match against a Ken player who does nothing but throw and mash uppercuts all day. There are two major online servers: Ranked and Casual. In Ranked, you play for points in order to become the #1 player on the leaderboards. In Casual, you don't—it's just for fun. There are also Battle Lounges where you can invite a number of players to your own private server and play games in a king-of-the-hill fashion, similar to Endless Battle in SF4, but way less robust, due to a key change:
When playing online, you cannot select your own character. You have to select a "favorite character" on your battle profile, and that
is the character you will always fight with when playing Ranked or Casual matches. This is to prevent you from blatantly counter-picking your opponent. If you want to change your favorite character, you have to do that manually. It gets very tedious very fast.
In response to the dearth of features, Capcom attempted to defend themselves by claiming that the initial release of SFV was catered mostly towards the competitive fans—but in doing so, they completely alienated their softcore fanbase, offering them very
little in terms of content. There's just nothing to do but play laggy online matches and get slaughtered in Survival mode just so that you can make your Chun-Li's outfit pink!
This is why people were right to worry about Capcom releasing the game so goddamn early. What in fuck's name were they thinking.4. R. Mika is the most insufferable fucking piece of shit
I said earlier that the game was quite balanced for a fighting game with only 16 initial characters, but R. Mika is something of an outlier. She was by no means OP, or anything—she just has an extraordinarily infuriating playstyle that goes against everything that Street Fighter V
was meant to be: A departure from vortex-based gameplay.
Mika, as you could tell from her design, is a pro wrestling grappler-type character. The typical gameplan for these characters is to be on the defensive, looking for openings, until they find the right moment to use their high-power command throws to deal loads of damage all at once. What sets Mika apart from other grapplers is that she's faster and a lot more aggressive. She has many tools that allow her to get very close to the opponent. The insane damage on all her special moves is expected, but what brings her over the edge is her uncanny ability to carry her opponents all the way into the corner (exactly where she wants you) after one
Once she has you in the corner, the real mess begins. You're now in a situation that players have dubbed the "blender." Like SF4's vortex shenanigans, once Mika has you in the corner, you essentially have to pick between jumping out
and staying put and blocking
. If you stay put, you're in danger of being grabbed—and getting grabbed by Mika hurts. A lot. If you try to jump away, she has all sorts of tools that can easily knock you out of the sky and put you right back in the same situation. It's just a guessing game—there's no real skill involved here. It's just a 50/50 coin flip where you either scrape a victory or lose in a matter of ten seconds. Also, her moves deal a lot of stun damage, so more often than not, you're gonna end up stunned, because you have to pick between these 50/50s lightning fast. You don't have time to think or calculate your next move, so 9 times out of 10, you're just gonna die.
The only way to victory is to prevent Mika from pitting you in the corner—but like I said, her entire kit essentially allows her to push you into the corner for free.
And I'm not just picking on Mika solely because I hate her design. She's one of the most reviled characters in the game, even among top players—a cancerous tumor on an otherwise honest and fair roster of characters.
Fucking hell, I hate this cunt.
SPOILER: She got nerfed to shit in Season 2. WOOHOO! But more on that later.4. Eight frames of input lag
This is a little bit more technical than I'd usually care to comment on, but frame rate is one of the most important aspects of fighting games. Early during playtesting, many top players became aware that the game chugs along through an abnormally thick eight frames
of input lag. When you press the button, the game inputs it nearly a sixth of a second later.
This is huge
. Input lag is unavoidable—most games have at least 4-5 frames of lag. That's normal, but eight is kind of insane. This compromises a lot of what the game is trying to shoot for—namely, being able to react
when your opponent does shit—when pressed to comment on the matter, Capcom has given inconsistent responses from a number of different spokesmen. Some say it was an intentional
change to help improve the online experience. Others say it wasn't. Either way, it's a fucking stupid implementation that needed to be fixed as soon as possible. It's because of this that you can barely react to certain moves that you would otherwise be able to punish.5. No stage transitions
This is kind of a minor/personal point, but earlier, I was trying to emphasize just how cool I thought the stage KOs were, and I expected to see more for all the other stages in the game.
But they're only a thing on that one stage. That's it. Not only is this game bereft of content—it's bereft of a fucking soul.6. Overall
And yeah, that's pretty much Street Fighter V
at launch. A horribly empty, soulless experience designed only for competitive players and leaving much to be desired from the casual sector. And when even the competitive players get bored of your game after a couple hours of practice, you know you've fucked up. They made the game simultaneously too easy and accessible, but with no content to hold anyone who doesn't just want to play in tournament over for longer than a couple days—all for the retail price of 60 motherfucking USD. This game is a shining example of just what happens when you try to rush a game out. Nothing good.
All we could hope for as fans of the series is that the steady stream of added content would be enough life support to keep the game afloat—which it fortunately has, but it's been an utter gruel—with a lot of shady shit going on, to boot.
Fun fact: Capcom expected to sell 2 million copies of this game at the end of their fiscal year—and as far as I know, they still
haven't hit that number. They were at 1.4 million last March, and between the months of April and fucking SEPTEMBER, they didn't even ship 100,000 copies.
This game's bad launch has attached an all-but-irremovable stigma to itself, and it still hasn't recovered—despite being a vastly improved game today. That is why I say it is the worst launch in video game history.
Overall rating (at launch):4/10
What Capcom had to do to recover was hold to their promise: A steady increase of more features, characters, and other content is the only thing saving them. And over the course of 2016, I think they reasonably kept their promise.
- The Recovery -
Despite the alarmingly horrible launch for their new game, Capcom was steadfast in doing everything they could to keep the game relevant. They sponsored over 70 competitive Street Fighter
tournaments across the globe in promotion of the third annual Capcom Pro Tour. Every single event was streamed and advertised heavily online—after all, if no one's playing your game, it's probably not worth it to fix it, so the first real step was to generate more and more interest for the game.
I mean, the game is still selling like dogshit, but you can't really fault them for trying.
Six DLC characters were announced, each one of them slated to be released every month or so. The characters were, in order of release: Alex, Guile, Balrog, Ibuki, Juri, and Urien.
Capcom had an intriguing plan when it came to DLC characters. You have a couple options: Either buy the season pass to get every character as they come out (or just pay for each one individually yourself, $6 per character), or you can get them in-game for free—but only if you've accrued enough Fight Money (FM). You can get FM by playing through various game modes and utilizing some features you otherwise may not have noticed or cared about, like the tutorials or the combo trials. You can also level up your character by gaining experience points online, and this will also net you some FM. Each character costs 100,000 FM—which is a lot of grinding, but the option to essentially get all the DLC characters for free is still there. Personally, I've bought the entire DLC roster with FM alone, so it's certainly doable. You just have to put in the effort.
You can't get all the DLC for free, though. One of the more gratuitous examples of over-priced shit can be found in this Capcom Pro Tour promotional DLC.
So, you get an admittedly cool stage, a couple nice costumes, and an extra color or each character. All right, that's kinda neat—how much is this all gonna cost?
BUT IT'S OKAY, because a portion of the profits will be used to fund the prize pot for Capcom Cup!!!
What a fucking scam. This is why I'm never buying any DLC from Capcom, ever, and neither should you. There's even some concern that they're trying too hard to make the game a bona fide "e-sport."
They even have these Red Bull themed costumes for Ryu and Chun-Li. It's the corniest shit ever.
What's next? A Mountain Dew themed outfit for Alex, and a Doritos outfit for Cammy? How obnoxious.
Anyway, let's go over the character updates themselves.Alex
were released without a hitch, as were Ibuki
. All of them bring a new spice to the game, and that's very welcome. At some point, they also added the ability to play best-of-3 matches against all your opponents online—which is cool, but you still have to stick with one character, which sucks.
Around the time when Balrog and Ibuki were released, Capcom also gave us a full-fledged Story Mode, entitled A Shadow Falls
, as a free download, complete with two hours of fully-animated cutscenes. For what it's worth, it's entertaining, but don't expect Martin Scorsese-level directing or writing here or anything. There are a lot of cool fanservice-y moments (not the sexual kind, either), and though the fights in between the cutscenes are piss-easy, the story itself—while not fantastic—is a fun and mindless romp of Street Fighter
characters finding excuses to duke it out. You also get an ass-load of FM for completing it, so there's that.
You can watch all the cutscenes from A Shadow Falls here
Curiously, the mode featured two characters who hadn't been released at the time: Juri from SF4, and Urien, returning from SF3. Things went pretty smooth for awhile when Juri
finally came out. There was some more fuckshit about "muh censorship
" when it came to her design by people who have no concept of color balance, and a lot of people think she has one of the worst themes in the game
, but I think it sounds fine.
Things REALLY didn't start getting heated until Urien
Now, Urien himself was fine. He's a very welcome addition with an extremely high-variance moveset and one of the most beloved characters from SF3. The "Urien update" in general was supposed to be one of the bigger and more exciting patches the game had to offer. Punishments for ragequitters were prepared to be implemented, the dreadful 8-frame lag was cut down to a noticeably slimmer 6.5 (but still improvable), and daily challenges were introduced to help players grind out more FM to unlock characters and other stuff with. Hell, Capcom even threw in a little easter egg for Urien fans: If you hold a specific button combination during his intro cutscene just before a fight, Urien will say, "You pathetic insect!" and strip himself down to a thong—which is how he appeared in SF3.
Grown heterosexual men were SUPER hype over this.
So with all this fanservice, what went wrong with this update?
Only one of Capcom's biggest fuck-ups ever.
When the Urien patch became available on PC, something interesting would be installed into their computer when they open the game. What was meant to be some kind of "anti-cheating" measure (since a lot of PC players are scumfuck modders/hackers) ended up preventing them from opening the game at all. When looking deeper, it was discovered that the game had essentially installed a fucking rootkit into each player's PC who downloaded the update.
In other words, Capcom had essentially created a nice little backdoor into all your shit.
This transcends "Crapcom" and dives straight into "Shitcom" territory. For a lot of people, this was the straw—this was the log that decimated the camel's back. Obviously, console players were totally unaffected and could enjoy the Urien update to its fullest—but every PC gamer playing SFV was just totally fucked in the ass. I really can't throw enough abuse at Capcom as a company for this—it really speaks for itself.
The code was removed quickly, and an apology was given, but the damage was already done. Many PC players outright quit playing the game based off that alone, and I can't really blame them. Every time it looks like Capcom's about to do something right, they somehow find a way to fuck it all up—and this was only a couple months ago.
I wanna love this game—I really, really
want to. It's so much fun. But Capcom just makes it so fucking difficult.
- Epilogue: A Look Forward at Season 2 -
By the time Season 1 had wrapped up, we've gone through many improvements since launch. While we still don't have an Arcade Mode, we do
have an actual story mode for casual players to delve into. We have an improved netcode and an active player base that's chugging right along. We have 23 great and unique characters, and many viable methods to obtain them—and while that kinda throws the metagame off balance a little, the game feels more varied and fun to play than ever. But it's still nowhere near where it should be. There's still an element of soul and personality—that thing I valued so much from the SF4 era—that's distinctly missing.
Nerfing toxic characters like Mika has helped. The problem with yearly balance patches is that, well, we have to wait an entire year. They could easily balance the game every quarter or so, but they never did. It's only now that we'll see the metagame truly evolve now that the top tiers have been made slightly weaker and the mid-tiers have been made a little stronger. But it's something, and if I could request Capcom one thing—well, I would have a lot of trouble choosing. But frequently patching the game for balancing purposes would be a strong contender.
The silhouettes for the 6 new characters to be released in 2017 have been revealed for awhile now:
The first is Akuma
, who is currently fresh out the bakery. The rest are slated to be brand new to the Street Fighter
universe—meaning there won't be Sagat, Sakura, Q, or any other fan favorites until Season 3. As always, I'll embrace these new characters with open arms—I just hope they're fun and interesting, because that's what this game needs right now: More fun and interesting characters. An emphasis on variety of style and combo potential.
It also needs Capcom to stop pulling some astronomically retarded shit, like installing rootkits into people's PCs—something they will never live down, ever.
That's what makes this game so difficult to recommend. If you're into fighting games, I think you'll really like it, especially if you're new to the genre. But Capcom's shit management, piss-poor development, and utter contempt and negligence towards their fanbase makes it very difficult for me to say something like, "Hey, you should all buy this game and support the most cancerous video game company in the world!" It's very difficult.
As it stands right now, Street Fighter V
has evolved from a 4/10
to a solid 6/10
It has improved. But there's still a lot of work to be done. Whether or not you want to get it is something I'll have to leave up to you, because right now, I simply can't personally recommend this game to anybody in good conscience—and that has nothing to do with the gameplay, and everything to do with the company who develops it.
I leave you with one of my favorite competitive Street Fighter V
matches between two legendary Japanese players.
is what I want to see more of in Season 2.
Thanks for reading—I spent way too much time on this shit, so I hope it was adequately entertaining/informative.
I try to be super thorough with all of my reviews, so if you like that sort of thing, here are my others:Half-Life 2Halo: Combat EvolvedFallout 3Pokémon Red & Blue
Oh, and Merry Christmas.