I first played Street Fighter V around a year after it came out. By that time, it seemed that a great deal of those who had been disgruntled with the original launch had cooled down somewhat and were now accepting of the game. I wasn’t one of those people. I was highly critical of Capcom’s fighting game and recall branding it a “disgrace”. The game was released in what appeared to be a sparse unfinished state. In truth, Capcom had simply adopted a variation of the F2P approach with an increasing amount of content hidden behind a paywall. That approach is fine if it is advertised as such. But to go down that route AND sell the game disc for full RRP is to take the piss (to put it politely).
Single-player content was more-or-less extinct and you had to pay for everything, even down to colour swaps. The rub was that you could earn all of this stuff for free using the in-game Fight Money currency but amassing enough of it to unlock everything was impossible if you were an offline player. Believe me, I tried.
What Capcom did with SFV was appeal to the hardcore tournament types who were all about being online and increasing their win tallies. Single-player? What’s that? The lack of offline modes and the fact that Fight Money was easier to earn online was proof of that. In fairness, I can’t 100% blame Capcom for that because fighting games have always been about competitive play so it’s understandable that Capcom’s focus would be on the online side of things.
But it was still a bitter pill to swallow for somebody like me who has been playing fighting games since the 90’s and was used to loads of single-player content/modes and working to unlock stuff. The genre has changed a lot since those days however and fighting games in general don’t have a lot of SP content. As for those unlockables, they are now on the Playstation Store (and whatever the Xbox equivalent is) for you to unlock with your credit card, not perseverence and skill. To say that I’m still angry about this would be incorrect because it’s just how videogames have evolved and how publishers operate as businesses in 2019. I get it. I don’t have to like it at all but I get it.
Street Fighter V felt like a step too far however. I played the game for a while and enjoyed what I played. The gameplay is pretty damn tight and I did dig the art style and exaggerated characters. SFV also saw the return of Rainbow Mika – one of my favourite fighting game babes of all-time – so I had to play it. But I lost interest in the game fairly quickly and set it aside. I was enjoying the likes of The King of Fighters XIV, Dead or Alive 5 and even Mortal Kombat X more. True, all of these games had DLC strategies too but nothing as in-your-face as Capcom’s game. KOF for example had a mixture of free and paid-for DLC updates. DOA charged the player to play dress-up with more DLC outfits than were ever needed but at least there was ample single-player content and a standalone F2P edition (Core Fighters) that didn’t encroach on the ‘normal’ game. As for MKX, I just waited for ‘XL’ edition which had all of the DLC on the disc.
And I haven’t even mentioned the ridiculous censorship that Capcom forced on SFV, just in case people were had nightmares about a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Cammy’s gusset or were offended by Mika smacking her juicy booty. I’ve already said my piece on this before so I won’t go into it again. All I’ll say is that it was so unnecessary and the edits were nothing other than quick hack jobs.
So I’d stopped playing SFV and, quite honestly, didn’t feel like I was missing anything. The new characters that were drip-fed over the course of several season passes didn’t really tempt me back in either. But fast-forward to the present and I have decided to give Street Fighter V a second chance. It all started when I noticed that Capcom had raided their back catalogue of slightly obscure characters and brought Final Fight 3‘s Lucia to the game. I always enjoyed FF3 so this was a nice surprise. Following this, another of my favourites – Poison – was also introduced to SFV. Yes, I like the female characters with the exaggerated curvature and big boobs – guilty as charged.
Clearly, I was a victim of the “sex sells” philosophy because I thought “fuck it” and decided that the introduction of a few more bodacious babes was the ideal excuse to give the game another shot. Aside from the expanded roster, I was distantly aware that some new offline modes had also been added. Maybe I’d enjoy the game now? I managed to pick up a cheap copy of the ‘Arcade Edition’ since it includes all of the characters from the first two season passes. A bit of a blow for those who paid for them originally but this is Capcom – what did you expect? The first thing I discovered was that you absolutely MUST buy this game sealed because the additional content isn’t on the disc itself.
That’s right, it’s a download code on a piece of paper which means that used copies of this game are effectively worthless. This fact is also not advertised on the back of the box so be careful! As with the original version of the game, the Arcade Edition‘s Blu-Ray disc is essentially just a coaster that will be worthless in the future since there is far more DLC and digital updates for this game than whatever is actually on the disc itself. Speaking of updates…
Yes, it had been THAT long since I’d last played this game or updated it. A whopping 27GB of data needed to be downloaded and with my extremely average internet speed, it was estimated to be a five-hour wait. This is yet another aspect of newer games that does my head in versus the put-the-disc-in-and-play simplicity of older generations. But it is what it is and so I played something else for the next TWO DAYS while this King Kong-sized update did its thing in the background.
At last, I was back into the game. Now, I did say that I thought SFV played well and I won’t retract that statement but I WILL say that it isn’t an easy game to just pick up and play. I don’t think so anyway. The basics are the same as any Street Fighter game but working out how to use the V-Trigger stuff isn’t necessarily so straightforward. Until I’d spent time experimenting, I didn’t feel as if I was playing the game properly, if you get what I mean.
Then there is an overload of rewards and in-game currencies. Fight Money, gems, Fortune Tickets…it’s all a bit too much. I’d much rather just have the game and the DLC – not all of these attempts by Capcom to make it look like you can earn stuff for free. Not easily anyway. You have to spend Fight Money to earn Fortune Tickets in Extra Battle mode for example. And even then, you can just skip this shit and pay for the stuff from the store which is what I suspect Capcom knows people will do.
All of that said, the core gameplay is still enjoyable…when you’re playing that is. I find that SFV is a very sluggish and slow-loading game. Playing the new Arcade mode for example is just boring in my opinion. I find myself looking at loading symbols spinning around or ‘dramatic’ animations announcing the next battle…just get on with it already. Being beaten and having to continue is also an irritation as it means staring at several black loading screens and having to go through the character and V-Trigger selections all over again. While this happening, I’m staring into space or at the carpet – bored. It isn’t a problem with my PS4 either because it’s just this game in particular which is so damn lazy.
Oh and I bought a costume (Mika’s School outfit) for £3.29 from the store and felt absolutely taken advantage of for doing so. But there was no way I could see myself collecting the 32000 units of FM that it would cost to obtain for “free”…
I’m not going to give up on the game. I’m going to keep playing and try out more characters beyond my usual Cammy/Mika/Akuma trinity. But at the moment, I still don’t really feel anything when I’m playing. It’s a solid game but that’s all. There’s a certain magic that I feel whenever I play Alpha 3 or Third Strike for example but not here. As with my first tour of Street Fighter V, I feel that there is a good game suffocating beneath all that F2P and online-biased structure.
But the game must have been a success for Capcom to have warranted the continued support and new DLC characters. Perhaps I’m just out-of-touch with what “works” now and what gamers are willing to accept. Overall though, my sentiment towards Street Fighter V is still a resounding…