Don’t call it a comeback: SFV cleans up after launch
I’m going to be intensely personal for a minute: My life by the time of my mid-30s was not fun. It was a time of change, reboots in nearly every area (partner, career, school again), loss and learning from the mistakes of my 20s. I’m good now, but it wasn’t without struggle and pain.
And the oldest entry in the fight game can commiserate with me because they know what that time is like. Street Fighter V is sitting at the bar with me, drowning its sorrows because it and the series, too, went through it in its mid-30s and like me is doing much better than one could expect after the struggle.
SFV didn’t start out as magical as it has become. The launch was mired in problems and things just weren’t where they should be. The game’s story mode didn’t launch alongside the actual game and the netcode was terrible. But what a difference time makes.
The story, while still not as engrossing as past entries, has improved. It moves the SF world mythos along and makes sense if you know the series’ past. Taking place between Ultra SFIV and SF3: 3rd Strike, Charlie wakes up in a tomb and is guided to steal an item from Guile, which would help him defeat M. Bison. Third Strike boss Gill drives the plot overall, tying up the loose ends between SFII and the endgame of 3rd Strike, which is the known end of the series storyline-wise. I love that Gill is tied into this as it always seemed like he was out of place as the end of SF lore. I never fully understood why he was the boss of that trilogy of games except as something new for Capcom to try because everyone was sick of M. Bison by that point.
While I’m impressed with the story, I’m more impressed with the presentation. Much like its predecessors, SFV looks gorgeous. The backgrounds are beautiful as are most of the character designs. Even the menus look good. Sometimes, when I start the game, I take a second just to marvel at the main menu and how the modes are presented. And let’s talk about the soundtrack for a second. The music is all-around amazing. Every time I get in-game, I discover another track that I feel like I haven’t previously heard, and I fall in love all over again. It’s so good that it’s worth tracking down and adding to your music collection.
While I love the game, there is a big section I don’t care for: the play style. I’m an Alpha purist, specifically SF Alpha 3. That’s my Street Fighter style and has been for years. However, SFV plays kind of stiff — a lot like SFIV — and that’s hard for me to grasp. It’s playable, obviously, but it’s not my style of Street Fighter play. And that’s OK. It really doesn’t detract from the game’s ability to shine or be Street Fighter, but it’s not my personal preference to play. It is a lot of fun to watch being played professionally, though.
Street Fighter V has come a long way as the most current entry in the series. Game elements have gotten a lot of polish, whether it’s fixing the netcode or expanding the roster with old favorites and skins alluding to long-dormant characters. It’s now the flagship game it should have been, and it’s still ruling the fight game roost while everyone waits for the announced Street Fighter 6.
Sometimes, with the struggle comes the rewards and SFV has more than earned its life fight money.