We would have liked to start this article by telling you to go out and get Street Fighter V. Fighting games are dear to us, and the Street Fighter franchise is the one that set us down that path. After several years and iterations of Street Fighter IV, Capcom’s true sequel adjusts the fundamentals of physics, controls, timing, and characters to a superb degree and that’s cause for celebration. (Or it should be if the launch product wasn’t so overwhelmingly unfinished.)
This is truly baffling on the part of Capcom and one of its, arguably, biggest cornerstones. Street Fighter V has no arcade mode. You cannot set up a fight between Ryu and Chun-Li and play against the computer, a fight game paradigm that Street Fighter itself helped create. If you’d like to fight against the AI with a particular character, you have to play through their paltry story which, in the case of Ryu and his Hadouken, consists of three, single-round fights. Not useful when any match that matters will be a best-of-three round fight. You can opt for the survival mode, but that’s really not much better at giving you control of the situation.
For many current SF players, it’s easy to shrug off the single player shortcomings since online competition is Street Fighter’s new bread and butter. Unfortunately, online is currently broken too since SFV servers don’t seem to be able to matchmake correctly or hold a game without detrimental lag-outs. When you realize that Capcom built Street Fighter V to be the game around which they’ll rely for E-Sports tournaments and gain recognition when world-renowned fighters take their skills to streaming services like Twitch, this broken launch is simply woeful.
Worst of all, hidden behind these bare and broken game modes is an excellent game. The trimmed down roster is full of unique, well-balanced characters, both new and old. Each one with a different style but none at a disadvantage. The same goes for you as the player. Combos and controls are the same across players, marking the first time a player didn’t need to bust out mnemonic devices to be a champion fighter. SFV brings everything back down to an instinctual level, flattening what had become an enormous (and prohibitive) learning curve. It’s a strategy that makes sense for a game that’s meant to be propped up as the standard for competitive play with money prizes.
We’ll continue scratching our heads about the rush to launch, but we know full well that Street Fighter V will be just fine in the long run even if some poor form early on may have tainted its debut to its demanding and passionate fanbase. As the servers become more reliable, and updates bring missing content, Street Fighter V will surely rise to its proper place as the fighting game to master. We just can’t be so optimistic after a coming-out party so lackluster.