While SFIV bought the franchise back from the dead, will the fifth iteration do justice to its predecessor?
It's been eight years since Street Fighter IV. The game revitalised the franchise and created a renewed fan base for its brand of the one-on-one fighting genre. It did so with brilliant graphics and less complicated combos that made it easier for people to get into the game and compete with others people. Special editions of SFIV came with an anime DVD of the street fighter.
Street Fighter V, however, is light on the story mode… super light… you can finish all the characters' storylines in under 90 minutes. The stories, though short, are enjoyable and instead of using in-game graphics to narrate these, the developers have used anime-style stills.
It is very evident that the new Street Fighter has decided to focus on the competitive side. The online component is pumped up and the mechanics have changed, so the playing field has been levelled a bit. Your character earns a ranking for fights. Unfortunately, the online content is gimped due to scarcity of opponents and bandwidth requirements. This could be a disadvantage for the Indian player.
To begin with, it takes a lot of time to find a person willing to fight you. It seems even harder to join someone else in the room. Once a game connection is established, the game runs far from optimally. We weren't able to compete with a dedicated 2Mbps fibre optic connection. The game was very jerky and, in one instance, our character just stood there and did not respond to any of the commands. It almost felt like Dhalsim had decided to go on strike because our net connection wasn't compatible with the principles of yoga.
Speaking of which, we love how full of stereotypes this game is. In a day and age where everyone tip toes around each other, we have SFV just going there in spades. They have filled each screen full of as many stereotypes as they can. For example, India has a langot-wearing coolie, a train with people crowding on the outside and a floating sadhu using a cellphone. Not to forget Dhalsim using the power of yoga to defeat his opponents — it's the most fun aspect of the game. Similar stereotypes can be seen for every country represented in the game. Russia has bears, Kalinka dancers and a stage that appears to be a circus.
There are a few notable characters missing from the roster like Blanka, E Honda and Akuma. While there are new characters like Laura and Rashid, we kinda miss Blanka and E Honda. There are rumours, however, that a free DLC will add more characters. For now, you can add Alex, Guile, Ibuki, Balrog, Juri and Urien by buying a Season Pass at Rs 1,799 on steam, which is annoying. Hope the rumours are true. Else fans are going to get very p***ed off buying extra characters, especially the ones considered mainstays of the franchise.
The game has a ton of new features and game mechanic changes. For starters, you can now see when your opponent is going to get stunned, which will let you pull of some strategically timed super moves. Gone are SFIV's focus attacks. In its place is V-trigger, charging it up. This lets you do moves with more damage. Critical Arts or CA has replaced ultra combos, similar to the ultras with ostentatious combos but with a much shorter animation. The short animation lets you keep the pace of the game. There are a few other changes in the controls that have been added to make the game more balanced.
Overall, the game seems unfinished. It doesn't help that the in-game store says it will be activated with a free DLC in March. The lack of a decent story mode and gimped online dealings make this a not so good deal for Indian gamers. However, if you are planning to play it offline in versus mode, it is still a very playable game and a lot of fun for parties and just in-house competitions. The new mechanics work brilliantly and make it easier for new players to get in to the game, giving them a fighting chance against veterans. We hope the story mode gets extended and important characters are bought back to the franchise in future DLCs for free.
Street Fighter V
Platform: PC, PS4
Price: PC: Rs 1,999; PS4: Rs 3,999