The launch of Capcom’s Street Fighter V was one of the great disappointments of 2016, a year that’s had no shortage of disappointment to throw around. Remember, this is the same year that brought us Mighty No. 9, a game that essentially clones another ruined Capcom franchise and mediocre in the (digital) flesh, so the fact that launch-day Street Fighter V was iffy enough to still merit mention is saying something.
It’s been awhile since those dark days, however, and Capcom has diligently been making additions and improvements to the game. Let’s take a look at a few of those and see if it’s worth revisiting the streets once more.
The most significant addition in the past few months is the General Story, essentially a Street Fighter-flavored take on the cinematic story modes seen in Injustice and recent Mortal Kombat games. You’ll take control of each member of the game’s cast as you enjoy the deep and involving story of Street Fighter. You can’t go wrong, right? Certainly you can’t go more wrong than the Character Stories the game shipped with, each a set of a couple fights against a brain-dead AI opponent stitched together with some seriously questionable art and text.
Well…as badly as I’d like to say otherwise, the General Story isn’t terrible. It’s not perfect, don’t get me wrong; one of the most visually interesting aspects of NetherRealm’s story modes was the smooth transition from cinematic to combat and SFV can’t quite handle that, so there’s a loading screen before each battle and between every scene. SFV’s AI opponents also haven’t gotten much smarter since the game launched, so if you’ve got the slightest handle on how to play a fighting game you aren’t going to have too many problems. Whether or not that’s a bad thing is debatable, though, as Mortal Kombat’s story modes in particular are known for their brutal difficulty.
What about the cutscenes themselves, though? Surprisingly they’re decent! You know you’re not coming into Street Fighter V’s story mode expecting a deep and involving epic tale, so you won’t be surprised when that’s not what you get. Instead, it’s a thinly-veiled excuse for a lot of hot-blooded shouting and villainous cackling, which fits what Capcom’s going for. This is the same series that gave us “BUT FOR ME, IT WAS TUESDAY!” – more of that suits me just fine.
The General Story also doesn’t look or sound terrible, which is surprising given the game’s already launched and it’s hard to imagine there’s much more revenue coming in from Street Fighter V. It would have been easy to just slap some terrible art and text boxes together a la the Character Stories, so the effort here, while not superlative, is appreciated.
Along with the General Story, you’ve also got combo trials and challenges to check out. Notoriously, it was discovered that these were apparently shipped along with the game and just inaccessible, but they’re here now so I guess it’s water under the bridge. These serve to show you more in-depth character mechanics that would be difficult to demonstrate with training mode alone, so they’re an appreciated addition.
Naturally, there are new characters to play around with as well, and you’ll get to try them in the General Story even if you haven’t purchased them. None of these are strictly new characters; at the moment we’ve got Alex, Guile, Balrog, and Ibuki, with Juri having just arrived as of 7/26 and Urien coming soon. They’re all familiar faces and all translate well to SFV’s environment; Balrog in particular crunches bones with satisfying force, lending an appeal to the pugilist that I found he lacked in earlier installments. While there’s room for discussion when it comes to their costume redesigns – Guile and Juri both look a little goofy, though Urien’s swanky new suit is pretty nice – it’s hard to argue with more content added to a game that drastically needed it.
Frankly, I think we can bump our original rating for Street Fighter V up to a solid YAY at this point. Don’t get me wrong: the initial release was, simply put, a slap in the face of every gamer who wasn’t part of the top-level tournament scene. The near-complete lack of content that wasn’t directly related to online play was shameful; the questionable state of said online play on launch was inexcusable. We shouldn’t forget about that, though gamers being gamers, we will. Months later, though, we’re finally at the point where the game should have been at launch…and you can pick it up for $30 or so on top of that. Sounds like a win to me.