The lights are on
The Street Fighter series fosters a ton of enthusiasm thanks to its rich heritage and continued success as the bar-setting standard for the fighting genre. Players have had plenty of time to check out the gameplay of Street Fighter V for themselves through beta tests and industry expos, but they haven't had much opportunity to look under the hood and see how the rest of the game works.
The review embargo has officially lifted for Street Fighter V, meaning we can post our reviews at any time. Our online matches on the pre-launch servers were smooth, but I want to test the public servers at launch before finalizing my verdict on Street Fighter V. That said, while you wait for the full review, here are my initial impressions on the retail version of the game.
Street Fighter V's gameplay is fantastic. The fight mechanics are more accessible thanks to the added V-system that helps turn the tide of any given match, as well as a less strict system in registering inputs. It feels more about strategy and reaction than being able to execute the specific inputs (though skill in that department is still beneficial).
I had so much fun playing Street Fighter V that I wish there was more to it. Unfortunately, the single-player offerings are minimal. Though Capcom is promising a free story expansion later this year, the story mode as it exists at launch is forgettable, and the classic arcade mode has been removed in favor of a survival mode that has problems with repetition since you always fight the same order. Even versus mode has stripped away the ability to play solo, as you cannot fight CPU characters. The only way to fight an A.I. fighter of your choosing is in training mode. Thankfully, training mode is robust, even allowing for you to record custom inputs for your A.I. dummy to perform so you can train against particular strategies or scenarios.
Playing online is as much fun as you would expect. The competition is made even more fierce by the league system, which gives you the ability to improve your ranking while jumping up to the next level of competition as you win more. In a strange move, however, you don't choose your character before fights unless you're playing in a custom battle lounge which has deliberately enabled that option. Instead, you set your "main" in a separate menu and you automatically fight as that character. Perhaps this is done in the interest of expediting the matchmaking process, but it's a choice that I'm not particularly fond of, seeing as how I like mixing up my characters on the fly.
You can read more of my thoughts in my review, which will go live later this week after the live servers have been sufficiently tested. In the meantime, you can see versus mode in action with our episode of Test Chamber, or learn all about how the characters were designed in our discussion with executive producer Yoshinori Ono.
Email the author Brian Shea, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.