It’s safe to say fighting games would look vastly different if Street Fighter didn’t exist. This series is responsible for creating many of the core tenants other fighting games take for granted. And despite a few ups and downs, it has remained at the forefront of the genre for nearly three decades now. All of which is to say that a new numbered installment in the series is a big deal. So is Street Fighter V worth playing? Here are the major pros and cons.
1. Rock solid fighting mechanics
There’s a reason Street Fighter has endured for as long as it has: The core fighting mechanics are impeccable. That remains the case in Street Fighter V. Whether you’re sweeping the leg, delivering a jump kick to the head, or tossing off fireballs like a pyromaniac, the game feels just right. Whether you’re playing against the computer or duking it out online, the fighting is so tight and responsive that if you lose a match you have no one to blame but yourself.
2. Varied roster
The lineup of combatants in Street Fighter V may be slim compared to previous releases, but the roster is so diverse that you’re practically guaranteed to find at least one that suits your preferred play style. Sure, it’s a bummer that your favorite player might not have made the initial cut, but if you’re willing to branch out, you’ll find someone whose fighting style clicks with your play style.
And although the game only comes with 16 fighters to choose from, Capcom promises to release more in the future. You’ll be able to get them by spending real money through DLC, or by buying them using the in-game currency you rack up just by playing.
3. Story Mode is lackluster
Oddly enough, there’s no Arcade Mode in Street Fighter V. In previous installments — and in nearly every other fighting game ever made — an Arcade Mode lets you pick a character and fight against every character in the game, one after another until you beat the game. In lieu of an Arcade Mode, Street Fighter V offers something much, much worse called Story Mode.
Story Mode is what it sounds like: Each character gets a brief story that unspools between a series of fights. Unfortunately, the stories are so short, bland, and poorly told that they’re hardly worth the trouble. Worse yet, each character’s story only contains two to four fights, which is hardly enough for players to get a feel for new or unfamiliar characters. And they’re incredibly easy, as well.
Why Capcom decided to include this barebones Story Mode instead of a standard Arcade Mode is anyone’s guess, but it comes off as a wasted opportunity.
4. Killer graphics
Although the visuals of the cut scenes in Story Mode will wow exactly no one, the graphics during the actual fights are fantastic. The game moves with a ferocious kind of speed and smoothness that lets you feel the impact of every attack. Street Fighter has never looked this good.
5. Survival Mode is repetitive
Aside from Story Mode, the other main single-player mode is Survival, which has some brilliant ideas that are stretched way too thin due to mind-numbing repetition. To kick it off, you select your character and enter into a match against a random computer-controlled opponent. Win the match, and you’re awarded points.
Your health bar doesn’t automatically refill before the next match, but between matches you can spend some of your points to purchase things like additional health or attack power. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can buy an option that drastically lowers your health but awards you a huge number of points if you win the next battle.
The idea is to keep fighting opponents to rack up as high a score as possible. The problem is that Survival Mode lasts for 30 matches. And since the game doesn’t have 30 characters, a growing sense of repetition sets in about halfway through as you start fighting characters you’ve already fought.
Survival Mode is great in theory, but it would be much more fun if it stopped when it ran out of characters.
6. Tons of depth
Don’t let the misguided single-player modes get you down because this game has a lot more to offer, including a staggering amount of depth. Like many of the best games, Street Fighter V is easy to start playing but tough to master. Learning the basics of attacking and defending doesn’t take too long, but once you factor in each character’s special moves, Critical Art attacks, reversals, and the new V-Gauge, it becomes a much more nuanced game.
7. Online play is iffy for now
In my experience on the first day the game has been out, getting into an online match has proved challenging. I’ve spent lots of time watching the screen as it searched for available players but failed to connect to anyone.
These kinds of server issues are common when games first launch, so I expect these to be ironed out in the coming weeks, if not days. That said, when the game has let me play other people online, the matches have worked great, with no apparent lag or any other issues.
Longtime Street Fighter fans will find a fantastic fighting game in the fifth installment, with plenty of depth to keep them on their toes until they master the new intricacies Capcom has introduced. Newcomers shouldn’t have trouble finding a foothold and working their way up to become fearsome competitors in their own right. Street Fighter V is a great, streamlined fighting game.
That said, no one should buy it for the single-player content because the Story and Survival modes are too weak and ill-conceived to justify the price. But don’t let that bother you too much. Fighting games have always been about playing against other people. If you’re open to the spirit of friendly competition — assuming the server issues are solved soon — Street Fighter V won’t let you down.