Street Fighter V Review – Cammy or Scammy?

A great game. A really great game. When it works.

03

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Format: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Released: February 16, 2016
Copy provided by publisher

When Splatoon launched on Wii U last year with minimal content, missing features and the promise of gaps being filled in over time, Nintendo largely got away with it. Splatoon‘s servers were rock solid from day one, features were stable, the feature rollout was transparent and everyone was having far too much fun to care that the business model was bad on paper.

Ultimately, I think this is why my first few days with Street Fighter V left such a sour taste in my mouth. When the gameplay is rock solid it’s an amazing game, but days of server issues, crashes, missing features and minimal single player content have just served to highlight how weak the launch day package is.

I could probably have forgiven a lot of the issues with SFV if it worked consistently at launch. In this state, the problems stand out like a sore thumb.

So, when Street Fighter V is working, how is it? Well, it feels like an incomplete but refreshing reboot for the series. It’s a new coat of paint, a mechanical shake up and a reset for any muscle memory built up playing Street Fighter IV.

When Street Fighter IV launched, one of the most obvious aspects of its design was that it had lowered the complexity of the series’ core mechanics, creating a lower barrier to entry with a smooth difficulty curve toward a high skill ceiling. In short, Street Fighter IV welcomed in new fans, and encouraged them to work their way toward being competitive players. This change in approach did a huge amount to help grow the competitive Street Fighter community into what it is today.

04

Many of the changes made to Street Fighter V feel like they are similarly trying to create a fresh opening for new players to jump in and work toward becoming competitive. Returning character movesets are altered, as are their inputs, to hinder returning players’ ability to rely on muscle memory.

Focus Attacks have been replaced with V-Trigger, a new ability that puts your character in a state where they do extra hits with attacks or gain extra strength for guard breaks. Critical Arts replace Ultras, which are functionally similar but use faster animations to maintain the pace of fights.

While it’s very clearly still Street Fighter, there are enough changes to how the core mechanics work that new players have a fighting chance online if they jump in early.

Street Fighter V also has incredibly granular stat tracking, which can be really useful if you’re taking your skill improvements seriously.

I was able to look at a set character I had played as, find out what percentage of times I successfully landed a hit with any given move, and learn where I needed to improve. In the short term, I could work out which attacks I most often messed up and should probably use more sparingly or defensively. These highly detailed stats for every character were incredibly helpful for understanding my own in-game performance.

05

Everything about the moment to moment gameplay in Street Fighter V feels better to play than it did in Street Fighter IV. Specials feel faster, but improved hit pause implementation makes normal attack exchanges feel more weighty and impactful. Every punch feels like it lands with a thud, but specials don’t feel like they take endlessly long to happen. That shift makes a real difference to the way the game feels, and it’s nothing but an improvement on the Street Fighter core.

SFV also seems to have a focus on increasing the pace at which gameplay flows. From Critical Arts featuring shorter animations than Ultras to the decision to replace character selects before every match with a “favourite character” you select on the main menu and automatically fight as in every battle, SFV feels aimed at getting you into matches fast, and through them fast.

Unfortunately, while the core game loop feels stronger than Street Fighter IV, there are some very notable issues with the launch day package, most obvious of which is the number of greyed out options on the main menu.

Where Splatoon presented what content it had at launch and added later, Street Fighter V greets you with a screen where half of the features you want are visible, but not accessible. That really hammers home how much content this game was really meant to have, and being reminded of that every time I boot the game really winds me up.

While there’s an expanded story mode coming in a few months, the current story campaigns consist of three to four fights, no big rival fight, and no fancy ending animation. For beating story mode with a character you unlock a new costume for them.

Actually, you don’t unlock a new costume, you unlock the right to purchase a new costume. From the Street Fighter V Store. The Street Fighter V Store that doesn’t launch for quite a while.

01

Street Fighter V is also missing a challenge mode, instead only featuring training mode. While training mode does have its place in Street Fighter, it’s not comparable to challenge mode when it comes to giving players a structured path to improve their skills.

Lobbies at launch only support inviting one friend to play with you, and even with that minimal implementation I could not successfully start a single match through the lobby system in my first 72 hours with the game.

Four days down and lobbies are starting to function, but they’re still highly unstable. This instability is a big issue, because it means playing online against a specific friend for the first few days was near impossible.

The fact lobbies were down for so long is a real shame, because when I could actually get into matches online the netcode was undeniably solid. In twenty five hours playing the game, I’ve not faced any lag at all online. Even playing PS4 vs PC, the matches were flawlessly smooth.

This is the problem with Street Fighter V at launch, it’s only amazing when it’s working. When it’s taking me twenty minutes to find a casual or ranked match through matchmaking, unable to connect to a match with a friend I know is online, the cracks in this games launch are made all the more apparent.

02

You can get away with a feature light launch if what you release with works flawlessly. You can get away with a poor launch if your game is content rich. I’m not willing to accept a AAA game cutting both those corners.

When playing, Street Fighter V serves much the same role as SFIV did when it released. It shakes up the mechanics to improve pacing, but primarily to throw established players off their feet and give new players a comfortable entry point to the franchise.

When it comes to fighting against someone, it’s one of the most polished Street Fighters to date. When it comes to everything outside of that fight, it’s a huge steaming turd that I look at with a scrunched up, grossed out face.

7/10
Good

Malidictus
Guest
Malidictus

Where does Cammy keep finding those leotards which come with boob socks and adhere to the inside of her belly button? Are these things adhesive on the inside, or does she somehow suck all the air from them after putting them on?

Daryl Corey
Guest
Daryl Corey

Unless you are a hardcore competative player that needs to learn the ins and outs before the Capcom Pro Tour begins I would say wait until after the Story mode is added in June that and the March update should give us an actual finished product

CptMold
Guest
CptMold

Even in its state, it’s miles above Mortal Kombat X. Although, that’s not really saying much.

Day_is_Over
Guest
Day_is_Over

They can’t even have their own stupid SHOP available on launch day? What have they been doing all this time? Twiddling their thumbs?

ghost whistler
Guest
ghost whistler

Took my copy of this broken unfinished piece of digital effluent back to the shop for a full refund. I suggest everyone else does the same to send a message to Crapcom. They shouldn’t even be in business pulling crap like this, but until gaming journalists actually get off their fat arses to ask real questions of those responsible it’s up to the paying customer to tell these lazy fuckers at the likes of Crapcom to get stuffed.

Yubis_Touchdown
Guest
Yubis_Touchdown

I’m nowhere to get a PS4 or a Decent PC to play this, but your Review gave a really good idea of what i will be dealing with in the near future. i’ll try stop ranting for a moment on the lack of content. I mean if i had the game i would be dealing with the same issues you said, but honestly i also would be so damn busy on the Versus Department that i won’t mind anyways. I Enjoyed this review and looking forward for the next.

Earl Gunmetal Grey
Guest
Earl Gunmetal Grey

When I was goofing around in the SFV beta, I remember thinking to myself, “wow, Capcom’s really going all out with their beta testing! If this is how they run a beta, I can’t imagine how much stuff they’re going to pack into it at launch.” Now the game’s out, and it basically turned out to BE the beta, with a few additional modes (and, technically, the continued omission of the little shop menu they had early on). If the official release is being called “early access”, then the beta must have been “early-early access”.

Jakub Nytko
Guest
Jakub Nytko

After having read the review, which i enjoyed, I proceeded to comments section and to lack of my surprise… arguments over score ensued. Regular visitors should very well know it yet people do not learn or are random guests who yet haven’t embraced the idea of “not giving a fuck about the number”. Anyways to me score really matches the content of the review. It would have been higher had server issues not been problem and obvious lack of content which is thrown at you at menu screen. How more off putting can it get right? Maybe next time such… Read more »

Riven fire
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Riven fire

I didn’t blame Laura in my previous posting because it’s Jim’s fault who actually blames…

Riven fire
Guest
Riven fire

7/10?!? When The Game Works Meaning Gameplay…is what I was gathering from my reading in comparison to SFIV Gameplay. Not 7/10 for everything fuck the launch shit. Guess this didn’t say that harsh and or clearly enough for some… “When it comes to fighting against someone, it’s one of the most polished Street Fighters to date. When it comes to everything outside of that fight, it’s a huge steaming turd that I look at with a scrunched up, grossed out face.” – Jim Sterling – How dare you see both sides of the coin! Video Games are either good or… Read more »

Chunk Basker
Guest
Chunk Basker

7/10? For all that missing content and lack of content? 5/10 seems stretching it. If this was released by a brand new company that you had no track history it would have gotten a 3/10. This review is far to biased to trust.

Kyle Pierce
Guest
Kyle Pierce

I think we’re all forgetting why people play Street Fighter games. The glorious ass shots!

Peter Rohlfs
Guest
Peter Rohlfs

More annoying, single player wants you logged in to give you credit for doing things like survival. If there server glitches you get kicked out of what you are doing. I had to redo both stories and survival fights on the last character because the system glitched on their end.

neil_mccauley
Guest
neil_mccauley

“Early AAAccess” – well played, Sir.

Lance Snead
Guest
Lance Snead

Thanks for the great review.

chozohybrid
Guest
chozohybrid

Great review Laura, glad to hear the game plays well, pity it’s full of
other issues though. Will you be doing more reviews with Jim, or was
this a one time thing?

Eliot Ferrer
Guest
Eliot Ferrer

I like this review, but I do have a small nitpick. “Focus Attacks have been replaced with V-Trigger, a new ability that puts your character in a state where they do extra hits with attacks or gain extra strength for guard breaks. Critical Arts replace Ultras, which are functionally similar but use faster animations to maintain the pace of fights.” Critical Art meter is not a replacement for Ultra meter per se. It behaves functionally the same as the Super meter from older SF titles, the only change being cinematic camera angles upon activation. Ultra meter was gained solely through… Read more »

Kev' Bryant
Guest
Kev' Bryant

Didn’t work for 72 hours, 7/10. I just don’t understand that, sorry. If I pay money for something, I expect it to work. If you buy a ticket at the movies, then get told to come back to a showing in a few days, you’d not rate the experience 7/10, no matter how great the film was. Also, the industry is moving more towards “games as service” rather than product. As such, no service for days is not good. It wouldn’t sting so much if there was single player content to keep you busy. How much would it have really… Read more »

Ventrus
Guest

Releasing such a skeletal version of the game just reinforces my feeling that nothing is sacred with publishers. The more a fanbase loves something the more piss the publisher will take. SF5 is one example. The Final Fantasy 7 Remake will probably be the most egregious example of publisher rinsing though – FF7 is absolutely loved by millions and people were practically begging for it’s return. I’m certain this is why Sq/Enix broke it apart – and why I’m confident it will also have Micro transactions. I’ve long abandoned the idea that these high profile sequels and remakes are created… Read more »

ghost whistler
Guest
ghost whistler

7/10? Is this serious? This game is utterly broken – the online doesn’t work at all. I have managed to connect once since buying the game on day 1. It even has a 6gb day 1 patch (MKX has a similar patch as of November which included 5 DLC characters – make of that what you will). During that time I played half a match before being booted off again, unable to reconnect. The offline play doesn’t exist since these lazy scammers thought ‘always on’ was a good idea – for the pitiful amount of SP content they provide. Yes… Read more »

Mitchell James Rogers
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Mitchell James Rogers

Ayye Laura, great review.

Aaron B
Guest
Aaron B

Great review, Laura. I feel like Jim would have been much harsher in the scoring xP

Drake Warnock
Guest
Drake Warnock

One thing I am curious about is the current competitive gaming schedule. The biggest Street Fighter fans go to these tournaments to either watch or participate, and if there is a regular tournament coming up in a couple months I can see why they would release the game incomplete like this. Competitive players need time to practice and nail down who they want to play as and they do not need things like a robust single player mode to do this. That said, the fact the servers took so long to come online is inexcusable and I personally am not… Read more »