Streetfighter V – Expanalysis

This article gives our impressions on the Playstation 4 version of Streetfighter V (v1.01). Review code was supplied by Capcom.

When tasked with building upon one of the world’s most recognized and beloved franchises, it’s a chore to know where to start. With Streetfighter 2, there were sequels that sped up the game, added new characters and backgrounds, as well as mirror matches which really freshened up the experience.

Streetfighter 3 went bigger again and added an almost entirely new roster, as well as dash mechanics, parry, and super arts.

Streetfighter IV was – arguably – the biggest evolution yet as it brought the online experience to the series in a big way, as well as Focus attacks and Ultra attacks.

Which brings us to now and the brand new Streetfighter V. All things considered, how can Capcom evolve things even further to justify a new numbered installment?

How, indeed?

Well, there’s a particularly exciting prospect for us as Streetfighter V is going to receive a continuous stream of content updates through 2016 and beyond. Capcom has assured us that there won’t be a Super Duper Hyper Uber Mega Streetfighter V Elite Championship Edition. The box edition you buy on the 16th is it (That is, until they do a GOTY edition with all DLC paid for and provided out of the box late 2017)

But the idea is that Streetfighter V is intended to be a base purchase where you can keep as up-to-date as you like without having to buy a future expansion with added bells and whistles. You don’t even have to pay a penny for any of it if you’re willing to be committed to the game.

Capcom is 100% adamant that this will remain a PS4/PC exclusive and will never come to any other platform. Sorry, Xbox One owners. From what we understand, this has a lot to do with the cross-platform play being core to the SFV experience, something you’re unlikely to ever have with Gold and Live users.

Naturally, this is a huge coup for Sony as they’ve managed to acquire complete console exclusivity to a franchise like Streetfighter this generation. That coupled with wrestling the COD Map-Packs away from Microsoft, really sets up the PS4 as the go-to online console for the next few years.

Providing PSN can stay up for longer than five minutes at a time, of course.

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But how do these updates work? Well, when you first boot up the game you’ll notice the Challenge and Shop tabs are grayed out and inaccessible. That’s because they’re both coming to the game as part of a massive free update in March which also adds dailies, an online store for purchases and makes the first additional character – Alex – available to purchase. For now, you can play online in casual and ranked matches, as well as set up a private Battle Lounge with one other player. There will also be a Spectator Mode shortly after launch.

All gameplay updates branded as ‘DLC’  will come attached with a charge, but can also be purchased using in-game currency – called Zenny – which can be bought outright, or earned by completing challenges, leveling up your characters and winning fights. Capcom tells us that each character will cost 600 Zenny, and that to buy 100 Zenny it will cost you around 0.79p, making each fighter around £5.

As you’d expect, modes that come part of updates, like Challenge, will be added in for free.

The game also has a rejuvenated story-mode which is unlike anything Capcom have tried with Streetfighter before. Essentially you have an inter-linking story with all 16 characters in SFV, and each character has between 3-4 fights in their respective segment. As you progress, you learn more about each character’s backstory, what they’ve been up to, and what their current set of motivations are. Ryu, for example, is on a quest to harness his inner power, while also trying not to let it overwhelm him. Meanwhile, Cammy has taken it upon herself to defend those who’ve been wronged by Shadaloo, which sees her venture deep into their base.

But it’s not just the good guys getting the spotlight. You’ll also get to play as Bison and Vega and learn more about the grander evil scheme from their point of view. This also gives you a chance to test out some of the other new characters like poison-finger F.A.N.G, and the enigmatic (but Akuma look-alike) Necalli.

All combined, these stories act as one massive prologue, building into a cinematic experience Capcom will be adding to the game as a free update in June!

Finally, there’s Survival mode. The aim is to fight through a series of opponents in one round fights and survive for as long as you can. You’ll start each fight with the health bar you had in the previous battle unless you opt to spend some of your points on bonus health or other upgrades. This, of course, boosts your character’s level, as well as currency.

Interestingly, Capcom has opted to go with a very familiar roster in Streetfighter V. Out of the 16 strong available, only 4 are newcomers. The old-guard have assumed a legendary-like status among some of the new blood, and in some cases, are actually firmly in the corner of the newer fighters. Zangief, for example, throws his support behind R.Mika and is trying to encourage her to tap into her warrior and muscle spirit.

The roster feels very balanced and there’s a real sense of variety among these characters. You’ve got the large, lumbering Birdie and Zangief for power and strength. Then there’s the agility of Rashid and the range abilities of Dhalsim. But there’s also complete fighters here like Ryu, Ken, and Laura. It’s a great mix, and out of the box you feel like any one of these fighters could legitimately best the other, yet they still feel very fresh and unique in their own different ways.

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Is that a Beefeater playing trombone? And an old London phone box?

Yes and yes, and that’s another thing SFV does really well. All of the backgrounds not only fit their character’s quirky style like a glove, but they’re also exceptionally detailed. There’s constantly something happening in the background, whether it’s an officer acting out their orders, or a chained up bear prancing around with excitement. And yet it never manages to be a real distraction. If anything, it’s actually quite entertaining to see what’s going on, especially if you’re having a particularly long-winded and arduous training session.

As for the character models, they’re absolutely glorious to look at. Of course, the muscles are ridiculously over-emphasised, and there’s a frustratingly perverse desire to show side-boob and naked bums with most of the female characters (Chunners being the only one who seems to like clothes), but everyone looks great. Likewise, the character animations are so smartly executed – Bison slow-walks everywhere while Birdie looks as if he’s about to trip over his feet – and they exhibit that same grace when pulling off the big moves as well as the small.

Capcom has even allowed age to creep up on some old favorites, particularly Dhalsim with his Gandalf-like beard. Though, to be quite honest, I really don’t get (or particularly like) what’s going on with Ken.

So it looks good, but how does it play?

I’ll be honest. I might be the worst player of Streetfighter you’ll ever meet. I haven’t won a single online match since I started writing this, and I don’t look set to break that streak anytime soon.

All that said, I’ve absolutely LOVED playing SFV. Because I feel like I can get better, and I know that with more practice I will get my first victory. And another. And another. SFV feels like it has been designed for people like me just as much as the veterans. Part of my issue is that I haven’t found that one character I click with yet. I’ve gelled with all of them in some form, but none of them have turned into ‘My Guy’.

And that’s fine with me because I’m enjoying experimenting. I like the long-range attacks from Dhalsim, but I also find F.A.N.G’s poison touch legitimately fascinating. Likewise, Ryu is just such a good, reliable all-rounder that I feel like I could give anyone a good match if I take him for a spin. And then there’s Cammy who flies around the map like a lightning bolt.

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Part of the appeal for me is the Variable System. Capcom has once again tried something new with Streetfighter rather than opt for some of the older systems. It’s a straight-forward mechanic that simply requires you to press R1/R2 together when your Variable meter fills, activating the V-Trigger. This causes your character to enter a frenzied state and lets them pull off a unique move.

The Variable system goes further again with V-Reversal which lets you soak up your enemies power attacks and fill your own meter up with a strong block. And there’s also the V-Reversal system which enables effective counter-striking.

From my perspective, this is an easy-to-grasp, difficult-to-master system that I’m completely onboard with, but I’ll be very interested to see how SF vets take to it.

But for many people, of course, the big question is how does it play online? The servers were still being tinkered with for maintenance during the review period, and so it’s unfair to make a definitive statement either way. However, 90% of my fights were completely lag-free and were as if I was playing locally. One or two had some initial lag but soon resolved themselves after the first few seconds of the fight.

One fight was particularly bad and was borderline unplayable during the first round. However, it was completely seamless in the second.

At this stage, it’s very difficult for anyone to make a judgment on the online play as the servers are still not at full strength, but for the most part, online games played exceptionally well.

What’s interesting about SFV is the ability to ‘favorite’ other fighters you go up against. You can track their progress, see how they manage to do in all their casual, private and ranked games, and even watch some of their replays to see if you can learn something from them.

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Future Expansion/Development for Streetfighter V

To put it lightly, the ongoing development is going to be massive. Capcom will continually add new characters, modes, costumes, balance updates and daily challenges to SFV.

There are already 6 confirmed characters due in 2016 – Alex, Guile, Ibuki, Balrog, Juri and Urien, and Capcom have already made it clear they have plans to continue supporting the game well into 2017.

As we’ve previously mentioned, there’ll be a massive March update which adds Tips and Trials to Challenge, the Online Store, daily events, and the first DLC character, Alex. Additional Challenge modes will follow in the months after this. You’ll also see the huge cinematic story which bridges the gap between Streetfighter 3 and Streetfighter 4 (which is when SF5 is set) in June. This will be another first for the franchise.

Spectator Mode is being dropped into the game post-launch (we’ve not been able to try this as yet) – Also, players will be able to invite more than one friend to their Battle Lounge in future updates.

That’s as much as we know right now, but we’ll be continually covering the game in the weeks and months to come via written updates and videos.

The Good Stuff

  • The graphics are stunning. This is the best-looking Streetfighter game by several country miles
  • Online play seems stable and secure
  • Variable System is great and is very accommodating for new-blood
  • Even the menu music is a thing of beauty.
  • Shorter stories is a smart, creative, and well-handled way to develop the characters & campaign
  • Favoriting fighters and watching their replays is another great way to keep improving & developing

The Bad Stuff

  • Some might feel they’re getting an incomplete game on Day One with no Challenges and incomplete story
  • As a result, mode variety feels a little slim out of the box

Final Analysis

Streetfighter V is the bravest release Capcom have ever dared to make. Not only did they opt for console exclusivity, they gutted and remade the entire fight system, launched the game without all the planned modes and completely changed the story/campaign system that has been a series staple since the SNES.

It’s a gamble, we feel, has paid dividends. This is the shot in the arm that both the franchise and the beat-em-up genre needs. The ambition and scope for SFV is inspiring and exciting, and the game feels extremely polished, well-balanced, and genuinely fun to play.

With a solid foundation and a bright future ahead, Streetfighter V is on course to be the online killer-app of this generation. 

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,