I’ve had a decent amount of success playing fighting games like Soul Calibur, Virtual On, and a variety of wrestling titles – games were you’re expected to counter, anticipate your opponent, and learn different ways to attack and defend. But over the years, I’ve never been anything but fodder for friends in traditional fighters such as Mortal Kombat, Marvel VS Capcom, and Street Fighter.
While my friends could pull off a 50-hit combos in Killer Instinct or air-juggle the hell out of me in Marvel – for some reason, I just couldn’t pick up the concepts and button presses these games required so I’d just end up playing something else. I considered myself a capable gamer, but somehow the “up, up, back, circle fireball etc etc” would throw me off.
Problem is, these games looked awesome to play, and through other games I knew the rush that came with playing against a real-life opponent – in short, I wanted in. I just didn’t have the time and patience I figured was required – and the last time I went and purchased a fighting game at launch, which was Marvel VS Capcom 3, a short time later (at least to me) a newer version came out with more content, leaving my launch copy basically worthless as a trade in, so as a consumer, I felt I got a bit of the shaft on that one. (On disc DLC, if memory serves)
As odd as it might seem for the hardcore FGC guys, for me, I liked the fiction of the games – and would turn down the settings to Easy, so I could go through the game and unlock the story and special endings for the characters. Not really worth the full purchase price in my opinion, and I barely touched a fighter for years until I got Injustice as part of my PS Plus membership. Even at that, it took me forever to actually fire the game up after downloading it. (Played a bit of Soul Calibur, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Marvel)
Waiting for a Fallout 4 update, I ended up trying out Injustice. I had a bunch of fun playing through the story mode of that game, and then there was a bunch of hype for Mortal Kombat X (my favorite fighting game for its fiction) – tried that out as well, and while my skill with MK is limited, the game looks good and seems to have a bunch of content, and I could see consumers getting their money’s worth – especially if they are buying now and opting for the XL edition.
Meanwhile, Street Fighter V has been criticized for its lack of content, and to be honest, I’ve always associated Street Fighter with somebody playing as Ryu, shooting fireballs at me, and then light kicking me to death in the corner – so I wasn’t really expecting to like, or even play this game – but after spending the last couple of weeks playing nothing but the newest Street Fighter, I can agree that the game is light on content, but what is there is great looking combat and what feels like good game mechanics – where certain kicks, punches and special moves and abilities are tested against your opponents – all requiring a good degree of trying to out-perform and counter each other. At times, there is a level that’s reached during a match – whether it’s the surge that comes with near victory or the primal reaction to possible defeat – it feels almost zen-like, and that’s pretty cool when a video game can achieve that.
I really didn’t expect was just how much fun I would have playing the game – and just how well the game has challenged me to go from an uncaring bystander into a FGC novice and Street Fighter fan.
I’m not a sucker or an apologist, and I’m not suggesting that companies should bare-bone their games, but if it wasn’t for the lack of content in Street Fighter V – I doubt I would have had such a good experience with it.
What’s hooked me for the last couple of weeks is the rush of beating an online opponent. And when I say rush, I mean in the literal sense – I’m working up a sweat, I’m pacing, I’m talking smack talk, tossing curses – and a good win comes with a touchdown-like victory pose and a “F*** Yeah!”
I wouldn’t have gone online and taken a couple nights of getting my ass handed to me hard, if I could have sunk a bunch of hours in a well-done single player mode that encouraged me to use all the fighters, learn them a bit, and offered me a good tutorial and introduction to the game. But because there was little else to do – I stuck it out, passed the first obstacle, learned a thing or two, and managed to string some wins together. I ended up really getting into what makes these types of games popular. And when I grabbed that first title – the Bronze one – damn if it didn’t feel good to earn it.
In my time with SFV, I’ve found that wins aren’t easy to come by. I would win individual rounds, but it seemed to take a while for me to get my first real victory. Thankfully, most losses taught me something about the match-up I was in. I might learn that a particular hard knee to the head would stop my opponent momentarily while they kicked my ass, so before long I was peppering that move into my repertoire, and getting closer to victory.
If you give the game a try, you’ll notice just how accessible the gameplay is – the fighters are responsive and the button presses and movements required for combos and special moves are pretty basic. Obviously, there are expert level sequences that take practice, but to get started with what you need, isn’t super complicated. That’s not to say there aren’t some glaring omissions, as many of the games techniques are simply not explained at all, forcing me to go online and search out more information on my own.
I mentioned earlier how SFV challenged me to become a FGC novice, and it was the lack of an in-depth tutorial and no adequate explanation about certain aspects of the game that lead to this – and that that’s something that I feel needs to be addressed, as I very nearly put the game down after the first night of getting severely beat and obtaining not a single victory. Not everyone is going to have the time and state of mind to think, “millions of people love this game, let’s try to figure out why.”
However, going online and looking for tips on SFV and how to better understand my character (Bison), I was introduced to just how much love this franchise receives, and just how passionate the FGC seems to be. And while I do feel it’s Capcom’s responsibility to educate players on how their game works – there’s an absolute tonne of informative content available online, and I’d find myself watching YouTube tip videos while waiting for my next match-up and implementing a few new moves and strategies along the way. On that note, just a shout out to UltraChenTV, Bafael, and Cross Counter TV and @gootecks, all available on YouTube and all were informative and easy to listen to and understand. Had the game itself provided all the information I wanted, I doubt I would have searched out and found these guys.
After three weeks with SFV, I’m at a bit of a crossroads – I’ve enjoyed the game a hell of a lot more than I thought I would, and it has given me a nice rush just playing the game.
That said, I’m hovering around Bronze (the first rank above the default Rookie) in the rankings, and to make the jump to Super Bronze and above, I’m going to have to up my game and put in more practice. It also likely means I’ll need to invest in a fight stick, as my thumb is developing a harder exterior and a slight numbness, and I’m also accidentally hitting the touch pad on the PS4 controller too often during a match. Obviously, buying a fight stick is going to add to the costs involved in enjoying the game.
As for any other negatives, depending on your point of view, you may find that the female fighters have some ample assets, and some of fighters have some odd design choices – notably, some messed up haircuts, but most look pretty decent. The lack of content is a fair criticism as well, though it hardly matters, as I’d guess that thrill of victory and learning your chosen character is what is going to hook you on this game, and if it doesn’t, a deep story mode likely wouldn’t make the game any more worthwhile to those buyers. The story mode that does come with the shipped version are short and ridiculously easy – basically three one round fights with the AI on super easy settings. On the plus side, it’s an easy way to unlock alternate attire. Finally, I found the training combos to be ridiculously hard for a rookie, and offer no instructions on how to improve, and setting the AI to perform a move to practice against was a process that could be much easier to navigate and set up.
As a super casual fan of fighting games, I never expected to like Street Fighter V, and coupled with the somewhat bad press of a light on content launch – I’m surprised I even played the game at all. If it weren’t for the chance to play SFV for free, I’d never know what I was missing.
Having spend the last few months playing open world games that required little to no challenge, it was refreshing and kind of awesome to actually be challenged by a game – and to have somewhat stepped up to that challenge. Rarely does a game get me as engaged as Street Fighter V has – and while my neighbours might suspect I have Tourette’s after a close or cheap loss, the ecstasy of a nice win is a feeling unmatched by any game in recent memory.
More than any other fighting game I’ve played, SFV makes getting into fighting games somewhat easy – it hooks you in, and then let’s you know there is so much more for you to learn. As a consumer only, I’d prefer a game that I can sink my teeth into, learn from it, enjoy it, and have it offer me a deep gameplay experience, rather than give me a lot of extras that I might look at once or twice.
Because of the effort members of the FGC have put in to teaching others about SFV, if you end up buying Street Fighter V, you will get your money’s worth and you’ll be able to learn so much about each of the fighters and how to use them – but I find it hard to believe that Capcom would take such an esoteric approach to having newbies enjoy their game – rather, in spite of the game’s lack of proper tutorials and being light on content – the nature of kicking someone’s ass in virtual combat is a thrill that has stood the test of time, and in that regard, Street Fighter V excels.
Final thought – Capcom has promised that more content is on the way, including more stages, characters and a beefier story mode, so I feel that the game itself is going to be a good purchase – it may just be that some consumers might want to wait until all that extra free content is available, or wait further until the paid DLC is also available as a bundled edition, and keep in mind that if your going to play SFV seriously, you’ll probably need a decent fight stick as well – an extra cost to consider.
Overall I can easily recommend Street Fighter V and give it a hardened and numbed, thumb’s up.