Video game review: 'Street Fighter V' an improvement but isn't top-notch
February 20, 2016 12:00 AM
The new edition of the popular video game "Street Fighter" tightens the focus to 16 characters after 44 were used in "Ultra Street Fighter IV."
By Max Parker
Only a few video games transcend their medium to be recognized by the mainstream. Non-gamers recognize the names “Street Fighter,” “Super Mario Bros.,” “Pac-Man” and “Mortal Kombat.” “Street Fighter” has come a long way from its start as a two-player arcade game, and the newest game in the series, “Street Fighter V” is another step forward.
More than a dozen “Street Fighter” games have been released over the past 29 years, but adding a number to the title signifies a major advance. “SFV” has new core fighting mechanics but doesn’t quite reach the rest of the fighting genre when it comes to additional features.
The last series release, “Ultra Street Fighter IV,” had a daunting roster of 44 playable characters. “SFV” tightens up with a more focused roster of 16 characters, which offers variety without being too intimidating to newcomers. The roster will grow in the coming months with downloadable content.
Price: $59.99. Available for PlayStation 4 and PC.
Rating: T for teen.
“SFV” introduces four brand-new characters, and it’s the first in the series to have Story Mode, which gives characters’ backstories. The stories, which last five to 10 minutes each, have become common in fighting games. But these could have used more work. The last installment of “Mortal Kombat” had fully animated cutscenes in its story mode; “SFV” has dialog over still images. The quality of the images isn’t much better than concept art, giving the feeling that it was rushed to meet a deadline.
The series has always put gameplay above story, and that’s the case here. The game changes enough to warrant a new number in the series but doesn’t overcomplicate the formula. Each character has a unique ability called V-Skill that is triggered the same way across the roster. Characters’ special moves have been simplified so that button commands are similar from fighter to fighter. These adjustments make the series inviting again, whereas the learning curve in previous games was too steep to attract new players.
“SFV” has no spectator mode, and lobbies can only be created for two friends. The in-game currency called Fight Money can be earned but only when connected to “SFV” online servers. The store in which to spend Fight Money isn’t even available yet and will be added via free update in March. It would have been better to delay the game’s debut until all of its features were included.
Like “Street Fighter IV” before it, “SFV” will change over the next couple of years, thanks to downloadable updates, new fighters and added functionality. The core fighting mechanics of the game are an excellent base, but “SFV” could use some additional features to elevate it to the top tier of fighting games.
Max Parker writes as The Game Guy at communityvoices.post-gazette.com. Twitter: @GameGuyPGH.
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