Street Fighter V comes at an all-time high for fighting games, with the scene getting bigger almost every month as new fans flock to this sub-genre of competitive gaming. Capcom are very aware of this, building Street Fighter V as a platform for years to come, hoping to outlast the 7 year legacy set by Street Fighter 4 and build the 25 year old fighter into an eSport which can go toe to toe with the big boys. Seeing as this is the angle Capcom are going for, it is quite difficult to give SFV a traditional review, as it is clearly a game that is built for continual growth and expansion as its life cycle continues. In its current state it feels like the Early Access version of Street Fighter V, missing glaring game modes and having quite the limited online suite which is set to be added in March, with the Cinematic Story Mode coming in June. So, while this review will be getting a score, consider it a placeholder until the ‘full release’ of SFV in June.
The main thing that you need to keep in mind if you are coming to Street Fighter V as a casual player of the series is that the current February launch is a skeleton, missing some vital organs to make the whole piece complete. What you essentially get when you buy SFV is Training Mode, your typical online suite of Ranked and Casual Matches, a Survival Mode and the most meagre of Story Mode. If you are here for a single player experience, Street Fighter V is not your game at the moment. Go buy Mortal Kombat X or wait till June because you will be sorely disappointed if you aren’t the type of person to play competitively. Even then, the Story and Survival Modes are just there to give you enough Fight Money to buy the first DLC character when he releases in March. Story Mode in its current form is a series of 3-5 fights, laced together with some clearly rushed artwork to give some semblance of a story. The anatomy of the characters are all off and the fights themselves are so easy, with the game even giving you a full EX and V-Trigger bar just to finish the fights as quick as you can. This and Survival, which has you defeating waves of opponents against the clock to unlock alt colours for your chosen fighter, are currently the only way to fight CPU opponents in Street Fighter V, besides setting one up in Training Mode.
So, the single player suite is utter rubbish at present but if you have bought the game on launch, that isn’t going to phase you really. As long as you have a Training Mode decked out with all the gear to research combos and simulate situations and a working Online Mode, you are in high heaven with Street Fighter V. Training Mode is a phenomenal bit of design, giving players who know what they are doing the ability to create any situation that they could possibly deal with. You can set recordings that playback moves so you can learn to counter specific attacks, you can set training dummies to do a certain attack on wakeup so you can experiment with what beats what and so on. The possibilities for creating the perfect training regime are endless and even as someone who has never really delved into that side of Street Fighter, I was getting so much mileage out of simulating attacks that were beating me online and finding the best way to get around them.
While veterans will jump right into this with no problem whatsoever, new players will be blinded by science when they enter Training Mode for the first time. This is a continual problem I have with most mainstream fighting games is that outside of a barebones tutorial which teaches you the absolute raw basics, you are on your own from that point on. I hope this is added to in later content updates but there needs to be a series of in game videos or something to instruct players on how to get the best out of all the settings that Training Mode has to offer. Just a little nudge or guidance to push newbies in the right direction would stop so many brand new players from switching off and quitting.