Street Fighter V Review – PS4

  
  
In February I wrote about how I thought Street Fighter V was not worth buying at it’s time of release. Since then they have made some of the promised upgrades so when I saw the game had been discounted to just under £30 I decided it was time to check it out. 

SFV is the newest numbered entry in one of the longest running fighting game franchises ever. The first entry in the series was originally exclusive to arcades in 1987, there may only be 5 numbered entries but Street Fighter is famous for re-releasing games with new additions to prolong their lifespan. The first ever Street Fighter game I played was Super Street Fighter II Turbo which is actually the 3rd revision of that specific game, Phew! So this actually makes SFV round about the 19th unique release! Everyone still following along at home? 

It’s totally understandable that fans were disappointed that SFV launched with such a barebones list of features considering this isn’t Capcom’s first rodeo.

Missing Pieces

  

  

Street Fighter V shares a lot of similarities with many other fighting games on the market today. A regular match is best to 3 rounds with the first player to reduce the other’s health bar to zero winning. Each character has their own set of unique normal and special fighting moves they can use to do damage and trick your opponent into letting down their guard. Street Fighter is often likend to the video game equivalent of chess because it pits two people against each other in a pure test of skill. 

Unfortunately this isn’t very good for new players who can be completely outclassed if you venture online without training enough. This was the first thing that disappointed me about SFV, they still haven’t figured out a good way to teach new players how the game is played. You’re thrown into a pretty basic tutorial up front that shows you what buttons to press to do some moves but it doesn’t tell you why you should use certain moves in certain situations. Sure you could go online a find some of this out yourself but you shouldn’t have to do that. 

If you dig a little deeper into the options they have added character specific tutorials that go into more detail about the tools each character has but this is simply a video clip and a text box overlay. It doesn’t show you and then let you try it out for yourself. You’re just supposed to watch it then commit it to memory. Some of this was fine for my needs because I’ve played most of the games in the series but I couldn’t help but put myself in the shoes of a novice player. If you’re approaching this game with no prior knowledge I really think you’d have a pretty frustrating time at first, until you read some online guides or watched some YouTube videos. I just can’t help but think there’s a step they’re missing in there. Capcom should find a way to help new players make that transition from noob to pro without having to seek help outside of the game.

As I mentioned previously, Capcom did make good on their promise to update the game in March to add some new features and a new character. Frustratingly Capcom was keeping quiet and the update didn’t show up until March 30th which sent forums and subreddits into a rage but they’ll always be able to say that they technically hit their March deadline I guess. 

These features were the aforementioned character specific tutorial videos, up to 8 player online lobbies, the online shop (where you can purchase additional content) and 10 challenges to complete for each character which sees you performing progressively harder move combos. These are all things that definitely should have been in the game from the beginning but at least we didn’t have to purchase them separately so that’s something.
  

My Fight Money!

  

 

The online store at the time of writing is a complete mess. It seems as though they made it as convoluted as they possible. First of all there are 2 types of currency, Fight Money is what you earn from in-game actions such as winning matches and generally just playing the game. Then they have Zenny which is a premium currency you can buy with real money but as of right now this hasn’t even been added into the game yet! I’m just not a fan of this dual currency system, it comes from free to play mobile games and I don’t think it has a place in a full priced retail game. 

There are items in the store that probably should just be included as unlockables in the main game. Each character has the default costume and classically in Street Fighter you can select color variation on this outfit so for example Ryu can have his classic white outfit and red bandana or you could change it up with a blue outfit and yellow bandana. In SFV you only start out with 2 colours for each character and 8 more can be unlocked by beating the game’s survival mode on various difficulties. The remaining colours 11-15 have to purchased from the store on a per character basis. I don’t think you should have to spend your currency just to unlock what is essentially a colour swap of content that is already on the disc and when they add the option to be spending real money on this it’s just going to get messier.
  

Choose Your Character

  

One thing that’s always a constant in the Street Fighter series is a cast of interesting characters to choose from, let’s do a character rundown:

Ryu: Our wandering hero who is looking for the answers that lie in the heart of battle. Ryu is the classic beginner’s character that has been in every main SF game. He still does all the things you know and love. He throws fireballs, has his Shoryken flying uppercut and the spinning hurricane kick.

Ken: Ryu’s old sparring partner Ken also makes an appearance. He’s a lot like Ryu having the same basic special moves but he’s a bit quicker and has some more complicated combos to learn. He also has a better Shoryken than Ryu which travels further and sets the opponent on fire!

Chun Li: Another returning veteran. Chun Li is probably the fastest character in the game. Be ready to defend against a relentless barrage of kicks from all angles if your opponent picks her. 

Nash: As of right now considered to be the best character in the game we have Nash. Killed by the big bad M.Bison earlier in the timeline he’s now back as a reanimated corpse out for revenge! Nash has his own fireball variant the sonic boom and he can also teleport behind your opponent making it harder for them to defend.

Dhalsim: The stretchy, fire breathing yoga master is back. In past games Dhalsim has been a bit of a slower character but in SFV thanks to his teleport and air attacks it’s surprising how quick and aggressive he can be played in the right hands.

Cammy: The deadly british secret agent who’s bent on taking down Bison and his crew. Cammy is another speedy character who can rocket across the stage with her spiral arrow corkscrew kick which if timed right can also slip under your opponent’s projectiles.

Alex: Is the first of 3 wrestlers we have in SFV and he’s also the first downloadable character added post launch. Alex is a powerhouse, he hits really hard but is a little slow. If you get close to him you’re probably going to get powerbombed but he can also leap across the stage to grab you if you try to back off.

Laura: A Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter who somehow can electrify her opponents with judo hip throws. Laura’s a character who can have trouble if you keep her away with projectiles but once she gets in she’s in her element.

Necalli: Some kind of ancient soul devouring demon man with sick dread locks. Necalli is one of the new characters and he’s pretty fun to use. He charges around the stage clawing at his opponents and he can also stomp and pound on the ground to create blasts under his opponents.

Vega: The prettiest matador/cage fighter in the land is back. Vega is as imposing and tricky as ever in this game. He still has his trademark claw weapon which gives him good attack range and he still jumps off the walls to surprise people with german suplexes and strikes from above.

F.A.N.G: One of the new bad guys under Bison. This guy is pretty interesting, most of his special moves have a poison effect that will slowly drain the opponent’s health until they can land a hit on you. He’s also pretty goofy looking so it can be hard to tell where his attacks are coming from.

Zangief: Another veteran of the series the Russian wrestling champion of muscle power is back! He plays pretty much the same as he always did, your strategy should be to get close enough to put your opponent in his patented spinning piledriver. It can be risky against more projectile heavy characters but the reward is great.

Rashid: This guy is a new character who has the ability to shoot mini hurricanes across the stage with his super fast kicks. They can be hard to avoid as they go diagonally from the bottom to the top of the screen and while dodging this Rashid can still be attacking you.

R. Mika: A female wrestler from Japan who can rush at you with all manner of strikes to put you off guard. Unique to her is that she can call in her tag team partner to hit you from any side so you’ve got to keep an eye out for that during the fight too.

Karen: Is a highly skilled aristocrat with a disdain for those she deems lower class. Not the most exciting character to watch as most of her special moves are variations on kicks and punches but in the right hands she can be totally overwhelming.

Birdie: A huge chubby punk guy from London who uses his mohawk like a rhino horn to charge his opponents. He’s one of the slower guys but he can use bike chains to grab you from across the stage so he doesn’t always need to get close to hurt you. 

M. Bison: The evil dictator himself is also back to terrorise the world. Bison hasn’t changed much from the previous games. He still has his head stomp and his flipping knee attack but now he can also grab your projectiles out of the air and fire them back!

6 Buttons and a Joystick 

One thing I can’t fault in this game is the fighting. Actually playing the game feels great which is technically the most important thing in a fighting game but it’s a shame the whole package couldn’t have been held up to this standard.

You can really feel the impact of some of the hits, the fighters also do quite a lot of damage compared to Street Fighter IV so the matches have a quicker pace and are more tense when you get down to that last bit of health. They’ve also changed the way defending works in this game. In past Street Fighter games any special move that hit you when blocking would slowly chip away at your health. So if you had a pixel of health left your opponent could just mash out specials until one hit you but in SFV a move will only K.O. you if don’t block it. I think this makes it more exciting as you have to outsmart your opponent if they’re hanging on with the tiniest amount of health and blocking all of your fireballs.

Also new to this game is the V-system. Each character has a unique V-Skill activated by hitting the medium punch and kick buttons together. For example Ryu’s is a parry that can negate an attack giving you a chance for a quicker follow up or Dhalsim’s is to float in the air when you jump to avoid projectiles or mess up your opponent’s timing. They also have a unique V-Trigger activated by pressing the hard punch and kick buttons which is more of a long lasting effect but can only be used once a round typically. For V-Trigger Ryu gets increased special move damage and Dhalsim creates a carpet of flame that drains your opponent’s health if they stand on it.

In addition to this each character has a special meter which when full lets you unleash a Critical Art. Which is basically a big special attack that does a big chunk of damage if you hit but will probably leave you vulnerable if they block it. These character specific super moves are really visually impressive and are always crowd pleasers for anyone watching.

  

  

There are a lot of options during a match which is good but I often found myself forgetting to use a lot of this stuff in the heat of battle.

Another problem I found with the controls is they don’t map to a PS4 controller very naturally. You have to use the shoulder buttons for some of the attack buttons as you ideally want to use all 6 of them. Luckily I have an arcade stick controller so this wasn’t a problem for me but it’s something to consider if you only have the Dual Shock 4. 

I can’t really recommend SFV to a beginner who hasn’t really played a fighter before. I don’t think they would have a good time with it. I’m not sure if the problem of introducing new people to the genre has been solved yet but SFV didn’t do anything to help that cause. Capcom very clearly catered to the hardcore fighting game community which will probably hurt the overall sales but the diehard fans will be too busy playing it to care.

★★★☆☆

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Mortal Kombat XL Kombat Pack 2 Character Breakdown

  

The crew at NetherRealm Studios have just released the latest (and seemingly last) batch of downloadable characters for 2015’s Mortal Kombat X. They are also releasing a new disc version too which includes all post launch content released so far inventively named Mortal Kombat XL. The game now has an impressive roster of 35 characters each with 3 fighting variations to choose from, which is a lot of content. So here’s a quick rundown of the latest fighters to be added.


Alien

  

The Xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise joins the MK crew to hug some faces. Alien is actually a pretty good fit for a fighting game since he specialises on fast up close combat and isn’t afraid to dismember a fool much like many of the MK cast. As with all the guest characters they give a bit of context as to why they show up in the world of Mortal Kombat. In Alien’s case some of Outworld’s denizens (possibly missing series veteran Baraka) uncovered the infamous alien egg that had lay dormant in a cave and well… you know the rest of this story. Like in the movies the alien takes on some characteristics of its host so in this case it gains retractable arm blades and a mouth full of sharp Tarkatan teeth.

As with all fighters in MKX, Alien has 3 fighting style variations. First up Acidic, which gives you access to some acid spewing moves which can inflict damage over time if your opponent gets hit. Tarkatan which gives you some of Baraka’s classic moves like his chop chop blades attack and some different combos using said blades. Finally you’ve got Konjurer which changes your appearance to look more like a Queen Alien and gives you the ability to spawn alien eggs which shoot out facehuggers to stun your poor foes. This last variation ended up being my favourite just because of the facehugger traps you can set.

They do a pretty good job fitting in as many movie references as they can, the Alien Queen shows up in one of the fatalities to skewer and rend your opponent in half. If you face off against Johnny Cage (MK’s resident movie star/martial artist) he says the famous “Game over man!” line before the fight begins. And now that Alien is in we can finally settle the age old battle of Alien vs Predator as they fight it out in Mortal Kombat.


Bo’ Rai Cho
  

Bo is the drunken martial arts master who trained some of Earthrealm’s greatest fighters like Liu Kang and Kung Lao. He’s mostly played as a joke character since he’s constantly drinking and he acts like he’s seen it all. He also has a penchant for puking and farting on his opponents. But if you dig a little deeper he’s actually a pretty cool character with a lot of quick strikes and tricky moves to keep your enemies off guard. 

In his Dragon Breath variation he can spit boozy fireballs at your opponents or set traps by lighting the floor on fire. Bartitsu gives him a wooden stick which gives him a little more range to his attacks and some extra special moves. his main variation seems to be the Drunken Master though. This allows you to drink from your special flask which improves most of your other moves, the catch is that if you don’t stop and top up your alcohol levels before 10 secs are up you’ll puke and be vulnerable to counter attacks. This variation was the most fun to mess around with but you can tell this character has a lot of depth if you have the skill to find it. He also has a pretty cool movie reference if you pit him against Predator, Bo’ Rai Cho channels Arnold and calls him “One ugly mother fucker” before the fight begins.


Leatherface 
  

The creepy hillbilly murderer from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies brings his chainsaw and a few of his dead skin masks into combat. Leatherface’s bit of story justification is that he’s sent by his brother to find the best kind of meat for one of his special chillis and he wanders through a portal into Outworld. Seeing all of the new types of creatures and demons he sets off to find the tastiest of all.

Obviously his moves centre around his Chainsaw so he has pretty good range, his attacks start slow so he’s risky but has good damage potential. The Killer variation allows him to use a berserker stance from which he can charge across the screen with his saw or launch some repeated strikes pretty quickly. Using Butcher gives you access his hammer which can stun the other fighter giving you plenty of time to set up your next combo. And in his Pretty Lady variation he gains the ability to throw his chainsaw which allows him to attack no matter where the opponent is. 

I found Leatherface a bit one note overall, a lot of his attacks look the same because he really loves that chainsaw and he doesn’t have a lot of personality because he’s a mute psycho killer. It’s all shouting and chainsaw noises which for me got old pretty fast.


Triborg
  

This character is MKXL’s way of adding 4 fighters in one. Introduced in 1995’s MK3 the robot ninjas Cyrax, Sektor and Smoke became instant fan favourites even if they were technically rip offs of predator (down to the dread locks and everything). They have also included MK9’s Cyber 

Sub-Zero as a secret 4th variation which you access by double tapping up on the D-pad then pressing Triangle when you’re selecting your variation. Their story is that the government was conducting experiments and trying to use the cyborgs as a force for good but it went wrong and now there are 3 cyborg killers on the loose who think humans are the inferior species.

Any long term MK fans should be familiar with these guys, each variation has similar normal moves but totally different special moves. Cyrax has bombs he can throw out, a jumping throw to catch people out of the air, a buzz saw attack and his signature energy net to trap people for a free hit. Sektor has missiles… tonnes of missiles, a flamethrower and his teleport uppercut which is extremely satisfying to land. Smoke has his harpoon to reel in opponents and lots of teleport shenanigans. Cyber Sub-Zero shares a lot of special moves with his human counterpart but also has a quick diving kick and drones he can summon to power up combos and specials.

I’m having the most fun with Triborg so far, each variation does feel like different character but I always did have a soft spot for the Cyborgs so maybe I’m biased. Overall I’m extremely satisfied with this latest group of characters and can’t wait to have some friends over so we can finally settle some horror movie grudge matches. Whoever wins… We lose.