The fighting game genre is one that I’ve always wanted to excel at. I play many games in the genre, I’ve purchased a pricey professional arcade stick and possess the will to “git gud” so-to-speak. My problem is that I simply do not have the time to dedicate to such games due to the amount of practice and effort needed to compete at even an average level. Every time I hit the online matches in fighting games I get obliterated and quickly become discouraged and give up. Capcom’s Street Fighter series is one that I’ve played since I was a kid yet I’ve struggled to play the most due to difficult commands for special moves (quarter-circle this, full-circle that) and combos that blow my mind but I’ve always had an appreciation for the series on both a design and competitive standpoint.
Capcom is set to release Street Fighter V on the Playstation 4 and PC this month and I’m both excited and scared to bother with it. I don’t want to shell out the cash on a game that I’m going to quickly drop due to tough competition yet I want to experience the excitement and thrills of online battles. Not to mention I’m going to need a new pricey fight stick too if I want to get on the pro level. Thankfully for us fighting game hopefuls, Capcom has a few tricks up their sleeves to help casual players ease into the world of Street Fighter. An online unranked casual play mode in Street Fighter V’s suite of competitive modes allows players who are too intimidated to jump on the servers in fear of getting smashed by hardcore players to be matched on a more level playing field. As for ranked matches, there are now brackets that players are placed in that the game will intelligently use to keep players matched in terms of skill to help prevent pro players from picking on low-level scrubs. Special move inputs are also revamped a bit to where the game makes button commands a little more lenient on the gamepad to pull off.
I personally loaded up the beta this weekend to check progress on the development of the game and to see how Street Fighter V plays for a casual fighting fan like myself. After a quick story segment and a basic tutorial, the game set me loose to either train or enter the online arena. Players can set up a profile that includes a banner (which are earned through play), the country of origin and their favorite fighter. By default, the game will find random online matches automatically in the middle of training or playing story content that will interrupt gameplay and spit the player into an online match. This feature was also included in Street Fighter IV but now the game will automatically choose your fighter depending on who is set as your favorite character on your profile. Whether or not the auto character select can be disabled is unknown but you CAN disable the automatic online match function if you choose to.
Street Fighter V looks noticeably better than the previous game in the series but the art style is very similar. What players will notice is more detail in the actual fighters, a little more elaborate backgrounds and better visual effects on the special moves. Beyond the graphical flair, the game looks pretty similar to Street Fighter IV with no drastic changes that will make your eyes melt; however, for a 2D fighting game the graphics are acceptable and attractive. The sound design is stronger from what I’ve noticed with more punchier (no pun intended) audio effects and one hell of an awesome menu song. Controls feel very tight on the PS4 gamepad and the d-pad is still the preferred method of movement. Special moves are indeed easier to pull off from what I’ve noticed.
Judging from my video below, you can see that I play Street Fighter V terribly. I selected Laura as my fighter and I jumped into the fray without even practicing her move set. Right from the start you will see that I was easily destroyed by a Vega player since I had no idea what I was doing. Laura seems like a fighter that isn’t a great choice for beginner players and has an unlikely move set but while playing in the casual setting I didn’t feel like any of these players that I was matched with were leaps and bounds above my level. The second matched I played with Laura gave a Ryu player a run for his money, which felt good even though I still lost. After experimenting with Rashid, a newcomer to the series, in training mode I noticed he was much easier to play with as a new player with easy specials and combo chains along with lighting quick movement. Ryu felt like… well Ryu.
From what I experienced with the beta this weekend, Street Fighter V seems to be going into a great direction for both casual fans and the hardcore EVO types. The additions to the game make me feel as if I may actually enjoy jumping online and playing with random players since the game tries its best to match players with others who aren’t hardcore competitive frame-counters from the Shoryuken.com community. I feel confident this may be a fighting game I can pick up and stick to without having to deal with the gaming equivalent of a “lunk” from those Planet Fitness commercials.
Street Fighter V releases on February 16th on both PC and PS4. Check out the video below to see my run through a bit of the beta and try not to point and laugh too much!