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Checking In: Street Fighter V

"Finally the story mode! Plus a mini-Evo preview for Street Fighter V."

What a roller coaster ride for Street Fighter V since it launched earlier this year on Playstation 4 and PC. From server issues, lack of content and messaging by Capcom in it’s first months, casual and tournament level players have been dealing with numerous issues. On the competitive side of things, “eight frames” has been the biggest issue among the fighting game community due to how much lag it has to cater to the online play. Casual players want to play more modes and not get consistently beaten up online. Now that the game’s biggest update came out last week that features the long awaited cinematic story mode, are fans now satisfied how the game is currently?

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A Shadow Falls is about M. Bison’s plan of launching the Black Moons to further enhance his psycho powers. It’s up to the world warriors to thwart Shadaloo’s efforts once and for all. There are some subplots in it as well from Ryu’s continuous struggle dealing with the Satsui no Hado, the dolls still being a major part of Bison’s army and Nash’s return from the dead. Street Fighter lore has been all over the place throughout the series and this story mode is no exception. Howver this is Capcom’s best effort trying to make things sense. The events of Street Fighter V take place between IV and III where some of the cast get the spotlight while others disappoint.

It was nice seeing certain characters interact with each other from teamups you didn’t expect and historic rivalries having closure. Newcomer Necalli is the most disappointing out of the cast. At first most of us expected he’ll play a big role, but turns out he didn’t do much at all with his motive of devouring souls from proven warriors. The newcomers that were the stars are Rashid and F.A.N.G. I didn’t expect Rashid to be a big factor with how things play out. F.A.N.G’s personality definitely shines as a worthy villain of being second in command behind Bison. Karin Kanzuki brings the world warriors together to assault the Shadaloo Base, but there’s a third faction thrown in the mix too. A mysterious woman named Helen, serving Urien, forms a new team of Nash, Rashid and Juri with their own plan of taking down Shadaloo.

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In between cutscenes are quick one round fights that are reminiscent of the game’s normal story mode. Most of the fights are pushovers just like those character stories. Fights in the later half however is where the CPU AI will be more of a challenge. For even more of a challenge, there’s an unlockable Extra difficulty if you beat A Shadow Falls in Normal. Some of the fights took me multiple tries, but most of them aren’t that hard to beat. The reward for beating Extra is 50k in fight money as Normal gives you 30k. A Shadow Falls is also the first time you’ll play as Juri and Urien before they’re out as DLC. All of the characters are playable at least once, but certain characters got more fights than others which was surprising to me.

My biggest issue with Street Fighter V’s cinematic story mode is the pacing. The pacing is all over the place because of the lack of seamless transitions between fights and custcenes. I was hoping Capcom took a good look at Mortal Kombat’s story mode on how to do these but nope. Also the story changes scenes at the wrong times at some points. When something crazy is about to happen, they switch to a different scene after a load time. Despite it’s issues, A Shadow Falls is still an enjoyable cross between Saturday morning cartoon and anime to play through. Good thing it’s not filled with anime BS like Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator’s story mode.

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That’s not all for Street Fighter V’s recent big update though. Balrog and Ibuki are the latest characters to join the roster and legal to use at Evo later this month. Balrog here is the best he’s looked and animated than in past games. He just flat out moves and punches more like an actual boxer. While his offense is pretty good with big damage, but gets blown up on defense with no good wake up options. Ibuki lost her vortex shenanigans in SFIV, but still has crazy setups with her V-Trigger bombs. She has to use her kunais effectively since they have ammo, but can reload them back. Players have to find opportunities to reload kunais safely if she runs of them. Ibuki has the potential to make more noise especially in the hands of Asian players at Evo.

New stages and costumes are also out to buy with in-game fight money or real money. A throwback Vegas stage and the Kanzuki Beach can be bought for $3.99 each or 70k fight money. Kanzuki Beach however is going to be banned at tournaments because of the waves blocking certain moves at times. Alternate versions of existing stages can be bought for cheaper as well. Tons of premium costumes are available by real money only also costing $3.99 each. I would personally wait for a bundle with these since the current price is a bit too much. It is a bit of a shame that the season pass only includes characters and not these costumes. DLC characters are still unlockable via fight money, but just get the season pass if you aren’t willing to grind.

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Online matchmaking also improved with last week’s 1.04 update for Street Fighter V. Higher ranked players are having matches consistently against folks around the same rank. Before the patch, platinums were randomly matched against silvers and even bronzes at times. Ragequits are still a big problem however and still not addressed heavily by Capcom. Daily challenges for fight money are also in development for a future update.

Capcom saved the best characters for last with Juri and Urien with what’s next for Street Fighter V after Evo. These two are very fun to play as when they were playable in A Shadow Falls. Balance changes will happen sometime after Capcom Cup this December. New DLC characters for a “season two” that were seen in story mode are a possibility. A Shadow Falls has it’s entertaining moments but the pacing issues keep it from setting new standards for the genre. It’s still worth playing for fans to see how they set up the Street Fighter III series. The game will actually be live on national television in a couple weeks with it’s Top 8 at Evo on ESPN2. Until then, Capcom is back on the right track with Street Fighter V for now unless more major issues pop up again for them.

 

 

 

 

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