When people think of video games, a few visuals tend to come to mind. There's the classic: Mario, jumping on a Goomba and headbutting bricks for coins. Or Sonic speeding through loops and collecting rings. But there's one more that is arguably as synonymous with video games as either the blue hedgehog or the red plumber, and that's Ryu from Street Fighter, wearing his red headband and using hadoken on M. Bison. It's this last visual that I want to bring to your attention. Street Fighter is a legendary and venerable fighting game franchise with a long history and many successes.
For starters, it is the most popular fighting game, beating out Super Smash Bros., Injustice, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and a roster of other contenders. With colourful and likable characters, an interesting combat system, and a great pedigree, Street Fighter is the holy grail of fighting games.
That's not to say they haven't messed up in the past. Ahem, looking at you, Street Fighter the Movie. The last few lineups in the core of the series, since Street Fighter II, however, have been top notch fighters, defining, then redefining the genre. Arguing which is the series' best is as divisive as ever, but as always, one must come out on top. Some folks say it's Street Fighter III: First Strike, others —particularly the pro circuit— champion SF Turbo. The truth is there can only be one. Here are my top fifteen reasons why Street Fighter V is the unabashed champion.
15 Strong Character Lineup
First things, first. One of the defining traits of the series —and of SFV— is the character lineup. There are a handful of mainstays and fan favourites: Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Cammy, Zangief, and M. Bison, just to name a few. While we miss out on a couple of characters from SF IV, this is more than made up for by having a number of new faces to enjoy. Ed, F.A.N.G, Necalli, and more! These round out the cast and give the game a feeling of reaching new heights, experimenting with strange character designs, who each have unique playstyles.
At the beginning of the game, the player receives a healthy 16 characters to pick from, four of them being new. Following this, more players arrive via DLC or through purchase with Fight Dollars.
14 Lots Of Core Game Depth
Another thing that SF V has going for it, despite a "difficult release," is an excellent core game. Whether it's the great fighting mechanics, graphics, local multiplayer mode, or anything else, the core game has it in spades. The gameplay is a stripped down, toned down version of SF IV, with more realistic character designs and more realistic movement and reaction times of characters. The environment is more interactive than ever before, with destructible set pieces and walls. While some would argue the story mode is a bit of a hyper-realistic mess, that's exactly what folks want from the SF franchise — an over the top, cheesy-as-hell, explosion of plot.
13 Interesting Fighting Mechanics
The trademark of the SF franchise is its fighting mechanics. Whether it be the EX bar or the new V-Gauge featured in Street Fighter V, SF's strongest thing has always been the mechanics. The V-Gauge is an interesting addition to the dynamic fighting system, allowing characters to us it either as a Skill, or Reversal. Damage tends to be higher in the game as well.
The mechanics themselves aren't identical to previous installments in the series, and that's a good thing. Micromanaging placement and timing has always been the franchise mainstay, and this is paramount in SFV. The characters —especially the new ones— have an entire roster of interesting techniques and moves that can affect gameplay as well. Some characters, such as Birdie, can consume food to power up, and throw away the can or wrapper, which enemies can trip on. Just one of the many additions that make the fighting mechanics so fun, engaging, and superior to almost any other title out there.
12 Stumbling Start, Great Revamp
It's no secret that Street Fighter V's launch was plagued with problems. From players getting kicked out of online matches, to general software bugs, it has been a tough ride for Capcom. Initially, it looked like SFV was destined to fail, from a game-service standpoint. However (thankfully), Capcom managed to ramp up production and turn the game around int he months following launch. They more than made up for the game's technical issues. Moreover, they added a lot of strong DLC to the game helping ease player's fears. From DLC to the post-launch update, the game was buffed heavily. The free launch update, in particular, provided a fun story mode.
11 Local Multiplayer Is Heaven
The focus of SFV, rather than on the Story Mode or the horrible Survival Mode was: the Local Multiplayer (justifiably). This was where players who wanted to test their mettle could go up against people of a similar skill level in areas nearby. Since SFIV, this has been the focus of the games, and is where most of the fun happens. While Survival Mode is intriguing, and the Story Mode provides some entertainment via a ludicrous, over the top plot, the Local Multiplayer is the reason people purchase the game. And frankly, it's all it really needs. There is nothing like testing out one's rank, rage quitting, and getting hella' salty over some "server lag" to see why this makes SF #1. It's the bread and butter, the steak and potatoes. And it's delicious.
10 Free New Content
Following the initial, stop-and-start release, fans and players were given some serious good service with a free new update - the aforementioned Story Mode. While some DLC was only available for real-world money, players could still buy most of it with Fight Money. Players earned this currency through playing and unlocking achievements. Later on (a couple of months ago, in fact), SFV also went free again in order to test their Season 2 and the CFN changes (Capcom Fighters Network). So there is no shortage of perks for players.
Content comes once every month - bringing in incremental changes to the game, occasionally new maps and things like that, though most new Maps come in on the DLC itself. You can, hypothetically, get all the new DLC characters via Fight Money, though it is rather difficult to accrue the right amount. You need to rack up a significant amount of playtime.
9 Story Mode's The Right Kind Of Fun
Opinions about the Story Mode have been mixed. That's fine, you can never please everyone; one man's trash is another's treasure. But, the truth is, this outrageous, balls to the wall story is nothing if not fun and exciting. While being basically unintelligible from a plot standpoint, it is what one reviewer called: "The best kind of stupid." Here's a quick breakdown of what's happening: M. Bison's evil organization, Shadaloo, is trying to launch "Black Moons" (some kind of satellite system), in order to activate some doomsday device to cover all the world in darkness, which gives Bison his psycho power. You play one of the many characters and go on a globe-trotting adventure, from continent to continent, city to city, battling other characters as you go, in search of some special artifact to shut down these moon rock satellites. In between these quick bouts are plenty of cut scenes, rife with awful dialogue that was clearly translated by something only slightly more coherent than Google Translate.
But that's what makes it so good - like the awful dubbing in a Bruce Lee movie, and the over the top villains trying to take over the world, SF V is just gleeful, unashamed, FUN.
8 DLC Characters
Okay, admittedly, the girl above isn't a DLC character, being Sakura's japanese rival, Karin, she is just one of the fresh faces this game gives us. The DLC characters are: Akuma, Kolin, Ed, Alex, Ibuki, Juri, and Urien. Some of them are very familiar, some of them were once side-characters in previous games, but all of them are pretty interesting in their own right. Each character has their own play styles, designs, and character arcs. It's a great strategy to keep characters in the back pocket with DLC, and if you have the Fight Money for it, it's intimately rewarding to purchase them. None of these characters seem forced into the mythos, and they all have something to offer the curious player, seeking out another main.
7 Straightforward Fighting Game
One of the best things this game, nay, this series, has going for it, is that it's just such a straightforward fighting game. Without the bells and the whistles of other contenders, SF V beats any other fighting game, hands down. Its playstyle is natural, almost second nature, and can be picked up quickly. The gameplay is addictive, almost to a pathological degree, and it's because of all this that it has acquired such a huge and devoted fan base as well as a large eSports circuit - a global one at that. It's hard to believe, after playing it for awhile, that any other game exists. The mechanics of Tekken, SSB, or others, seems archaic and strange in comparison. it is because of this that SF V has carved a name for itself in the world of fighting games. There are no increasing chances of getting blown off the map, no weird graphics of breaking ribs on an X-ray. Just two peoples facing off with a health bar and their wit, the only two things standing between them and defeat.
6 Over The Top Badassery
Another aspect of the game that just plain rules is the overall badassery of the characters, both the mainstays and the new ones. There is some ephemeral feeling, some quintessence about SF that is alive and well in this new title, and it gets the heart beating. Whether is it the over the top character actions —their intros, specials, Ultimates— or their full cutscenes in the Story Mode, you cannot help but be brought entirely into the world. While some of the more fast paced actions have been paired down from SF IV, other aspects — such as the Story Mode, have more than ramped up that same X factor. Where Mortal Kombat utilizes gore as it's cache, Street Fighter V relies on its over the top characters and world. Street Fighter is loveable in its own way.
5 Amazing eSports Community
Street Fighter V, following the trend of other games in the franchise, has a highly dedicated eSports community of professional player from around the globe. There are starting to be household names associated with the series. Daigo the Beast, Infiltration, or even Xian, and their legends have risen to prominence. Street Fighter V has an excellent relationship with eSports, and has broken records for sign ups at professional tournaments. Despite this, there has been some talk that there is an 8 frames per second latency, which can affect professional level play. Still, SFV is catered to the professional circuit, and it is widely used, and in many cases, even the game of choice for the pros.
4 Developers Listen To Players
Just as Capcom works hard to retain a strong relationship with the eSports community, they also listen closely to forums and chat boards. These communities are filled with long term players, and Capcom appears to take many of the community's criticisms to heart. Much to their credit. That was what led to such a prompt update after the disappointments of the release, and as a result, a much better game in the end. Thanks to the internet, SFV is capable of being much more reflexive with its changes, and bring it in via DLC or a free update. They are the envy of other games, and that's what gives it a leg up against earlier iterations in the franchise.
3 Critical Arts Combat
Ah, the Critical Arts. This is a new skill ability and final attack brought to the SF universe, launched in this game, that just rules. While it existed in name only previously, the Critical Arts system has never been as complex, or as awesome of a Super Move mechanic. They are the only moves that can K.O. an opponent while he is blocking with chip damage. Related inextricably to the EX-Gauge, they change in their animation depending on the V-Trigger. Apart from being visually stunning (see above), they are also absolutely clutch when you're in a pinch and looking for the win. It is essentially a more advanced finishing move, as it ties the two bars together for best damage. Therefore, pulling off these advanced moves can be difficult to pull off. It brings a whole wack of tension to the match, because very often, it is the difference between life and death in a fight — and if you miss it, that could very well be it.
2 Individual V-Skills Are Rad
This new V-Meter might just be the single greatest thing that Street Fighter V has going for it from a game mechanics perspective. While talking about Critical Arts and over the top badassery, you can't forget the V-Skill. A more advanced version of SF IV's Focus ability, each character has their own signature ability. In particular, the V-Trigger is the final trump card that can change the course of a match in a heartbeat. What's important, and marks the big improvement over the Focus bar, is that each character's effects are different and effect the game in their own way.
For example, Ryu's Reiki V-Trigger can increase Stun chance as its damage increases. Charlie's unleashes a teleport ability, M. Bison's gives him increased movement and new combo abilities. So what does the V stand for in this instance? Well, it's actually variable, and that appears to be the main theme for the entire Skillset, if not the game itself. Providing unseen variables keeps the matches fresh and exciting.
1 Thank You, Unreal Engine 4
This is, quite simply, the K.O. Unreal Engine 4 provided the stability needed in a game that features and necessitates a quick reaction time between player and avatar. The Engine was incredibly stable at 60 frames per second, which, while not being the most advanced graphics system, still looks great and allows players peace of mind, knowing that there is little to no FPS delay. The developers even said that, because they relied on Unreal 4, they were able to devote more time to working on the game's mechanics. As a result, we have interesting and innovative design evolutions over Street Fighter IV. Mechanics like the V-trigger bar go a long way. It really is the linchpin that makes the game so great, and the reason that Street Fighter Five has turned out to be the best in the series.