Another V has come this year, and rather than being about guns, grenades and stealth camouflage, it is about Hadoukens, spinning bird kicks and yoga flames. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the new Street Fighter has finally landed.

It’s been seven years since the release of Street Fighter IV–yes, I can’t believe it either–and Yoshinori Ono’s legacy does not seem to be slowing down. Ever since he was assigned as producer, basically the man who pulls the strings on all the game’s aspects, of Street Fighter 4, the franchise has been on a meteoric rise that has all but convinced people to forget the muddy SF3 years.

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What’s this? A man kicking a woman in the face? Someone get at Anita to shut down Street Fighter.

With a roster of 16 characters to choose from, and more to be certainly added via DLC, players will gain access to classic favorites as well as new contenders like Rashid. Whether you are familiar with the Street Fighter formula or not, you will find yourself coming up with setups and combos in no time. If this is your first foray into Street Fighter–what I would give to be able to see the game through your eyes–just use your instincts and mash buttons. When you are done and feel that you would like to focus your playing, you can spend some time in the training mode.

Though the combo training mode is surprisingly missing, it won’t take you long to establish your own setups and combos. With excellent new features like playbacks and record keeping, there are ample opportunities for you to perfect your skill as much as you want to. Every time I revisit the training mode, I find myself trying new setups and coming up with higher combo counts or a new combination of moves.

The awesome thing about Street Fighter is that even if you do not know the mechanics, you can easily still win some bouts based on instinct and luck alone. No other fighting game is as accessible as Street Fighter, and based on experience, there never will be. This franchise has gone to inspire all other fighting games and still does.

Allow me to repeat what I mentioned earlier: I wish I were able to see this game through the eyes of a complete beginner. To hear that Hadouken for the first time, to gawk at a beautiful girl with thick thighs pulling off a spinning kick attack that glides across the screen, to watch a green beast generate his own electricity as a defensive/offensive tactic. Veterans have much to look forward to with Street Fighter V, but beginners and newcomers have the most to gain and are, for once, deemed the luckiest people.

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One of the biggest changes in the game is the replacement of the Ultra gauge with the V-skills and V-triggers. Rather than share a repeated, general set of moves, each character has his/her own unique V-System moves that adds diversity to the characters’ styles. But don’t let me confuse you and allow the experts to explain this new system for you: from the pages of the Official Street Fighter V strategy guide by Prima:

One of the biggest hurdles for new players in Street Fighter 4 was landing max damage combos for many characters. In many cases, if you wanted to link a jab to a second jab it was a one or two-frame link. Astute players figured out a way to make that easier by plinking (quickly rolling your finger from one button to the next), but it was still difficult for even top players as it wasn’t uncommon to see dropped combos.

Street Fighter 5 removes that barrier of entry to high-level play with the hardest links in the game being three frames or better. While a three-frame link isn’t exactly easy to pull off, it’s significantly easier than a one-frame link. It will still take some practice, but with the adjusted input buffering system in Street Fighter 5, landing your high damage combos won’t be your biggest concern. You won’t have to fight the system just to pull off a four-hit combo.

What this all means is it is now much easier to link attacks to form a combo, but not without practice. Pro players have been counting frames and pixels since the advent of fighting games, and if you ever hope to compete on a local or global scale, you’d better perfect your hand-eye coordination.

 

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But what if you were of the minority who plays Street Fighter games for their story–and if you are, I urge you to contact us stat as you are a dying breed of a breed we never really knew existed–you may be disappointed with the Story Mode. Rather than have you play against most all other characters as a means of building up each character’s story arc, Story Mode now comprises of three to four single-rounded fights. Adding to the blow for single-player enthusiasts is the lack of overall content that Capcom has already promised to address in future patches and add-ons *cough* DLC *cough*.

As is, people who are only looking to game alone have two modes at their disposal: the shriveled story mode, and Survival mode that has you alternate modifiers before each upcoming fight including ones that refill your health, and those that increase your attack ratio. On the other hand, gamers looking to take on the online world will find much to enjoy here. A solid online ranking mode, “Fight Points” and “League Points” that players can use to purchase cosmetics and other in-game bonuses, daily challenges, and to top it all off, PS4 and PC players will be able to compete against each other.

Is the game biased towards competitive gameplay? Yes, and rightly so. Capcom need not really flesh out the story campaign, it would be nice for the remaining 1% of players but it’s not crucial. What Capcom needs to do is maintain the connectivity especially in regards to the PC/PS4 one. Capcom need to identify that their core audience is the competitive one, and not release the missing story elements as a DLC.

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Single player: Capcom!…Why have you forsaken me? Capcom: Shut up and go kick some online ass.

But Street Fighter V is not all about pixel-perfect attacks. The soundtrack, for one, is one of the best Street Fighter soundtracks I’ve heard. From remixed classics, to bass-blasting tunes and synthetic melodies, the music will help keep the battles intense. And don’t get me started on the graphics. What started in SF4 has turned to into an iconic style that other fighting games wish they could pull off. In fact, I’m willing to bet that other games in other genres would have benefited from this artistic approach.

With all that in mind, don’t focus on what is missing from Street Fighter V. The game is still as awesome as its predecessor was, and if anything has catered nicely to its online multiplayer audience. The rest of us, including myself, who do not favor any form of competitive play, may feel skimped by the shrinking offerings, but in an age where online play has become the de facto standard in a game’s success, we can’t really complain and call out foul play at Capcom. The medium is changing and at this point, there is little that we can do to change it, so just load up the game, pick a character and enjoy all the awesomeness that Street Fighter V is.

 

Street Fighter V is available on the PS4 [Reviewed] and on the PC. A review copy was made available to us via Capcom.