Street Fighter V had a rocky uphill climb since its launch – one that drastically needed addressing for its lack of content. What hit players the hardest was how Capcom planned to stick to a singular edition of the game, only to expand upon it with updates and future DLC. While not above something that the AAA developer would do (reminder of the Asura’s Wrath true ending debacle that was confusingly hidden behind a paid DLC wall), it seems that they’ve taken careful steps to ensure their most beloved fighting franchise doesn’t fall victim to the Evolve syndrome. Thankfully, there have been quite incredible improvements over the months, and perhaps its safe to say now more than ever that Street Fighter V is amazingly close to being the complete package that we rightfully deserved from day one.
Admittedly, I was never a huge fan of the Street Fighter franchise as I gravitated towards more intense fighters like Mortal Kombat or Killer Instinct. I did spend plenty of time as a kid in arcades whenever the opportunity presented itself, and it just so happened that Street Fighter II was among the most competitive social fighters that everyone seemed to love. So I followed suit, perfecting Chun-Li and challenging other neighborhood kids. Like most nostalgic memories, Street Fighter faded over time. However, Street Fighter V caught my eye and won me over after showcasing its spectacularly stylish graphics and overhauled gameplay mechanics to make it more streamlined but never strayed too far from the core fighting essence of the original games. It gave me the feeling once again of being that kid in the arcade.
After purchasing the game a week after its initial launch, I was mostly divisive. On one hand, Capcom certainly delivered that nostalgic, stylish fighting experience reminiscent of the old-school fighters and managed to make it the most accessible Street Fighter entry in the entire series. It was definitely their most ambitious outing yet, and they succeeded greatly. Street Fighter V boasts the series’ most fluid, rapidly responsive, and outright entertaining gameplay yet. But on the other hand, the unforgivable lack of content and fickle multiplayer server issues were gaping holes in an otherwise solid core fighter. The potential was there, yet Capcom chose to hide it behind promises of more to come. It’s been over a year, and how have these promises changed the overall experience?
While it isn’t the most drastic changes, the new (kind of) free updates introduced six new fighters to the roster, fixed multiple bugs that bogged down the surprisingly exciting online multiplayer, and added some much needed features to round off the games single-player value; purchasable alternative costume colors, stage transitions, and specialty KO’s. While no Arcade Mode is yet planned, Capcom delivered a much demanded vs. CPU mode that might be the closest we will get to it. This obviously extends the longevity of the single-player experience by a bit, allowing plenty of true AI challenges and skill-honing outside of the abysmal Training Mode. It’s a welcomed step forward in righting the wrongs of the game.
The Story Mode drew criticism for its poorly optimized AI (which ended up being easier to beat than actual punching bags), it’s uninspired focus on each characters journeys that never seemed to go anywhere, and not to mention it only revolved around a couple of single-round fights before the epilogues. New updates have rather given us a new cinematic story mode, titled General Story Mode, that flows much like the beefy content of Mortal Kombat X’s campaign, complete with beautiful animated cutscenes interwoven with character interactions that seamlessly transitioned into the fights. While it doesn’t quite have the punch of the aforementioned gruesome rival fighter, Street Fighter V’s attempt is admirable, and given that it is entirely free with the new update, it feels more like a satisfying story mode than the actual, well, Story Mode we got.
Street Fighter V is still a firm reminder that developers will go to great lengths to push out rushed projects for the sake of making profits, and I still have my concerns with plenty of the games flaws, but for what it’s worth, the state of the game right now is exactly what we should’ve been given on day one. That’s not to say you should rush out and buy the game immediately expecting tremendous additions and tweaks, but it mostly feels like a solid and worthwhile single-player experience on top of the already impressive multiplayer… at matinee price of course.