Yesterday a friend called me up and asked if I wanted to come over and play some PS4. As I am strongly lacking in the "owning a PS4" department, I obliged. I came over and we went through his gaming library, finding titles like Just Cause 3, Star Wars Battlefront, and the must-have WWE 2K16. Sitting amidst a pile of scattered titles of varying platform, I saw Street Fighter V. My feeble brain decided that the appropriate initial reaction was, "Huh. Street Fighter V. I didn't even know this was released yet." "Yeah... Eh, it's alright. I'm not gonna keep it," he replied, shrugging his shoulders. "One-on-one is pretty good, though. Wanna take it for a spin?"
And so begins my journey into unparalleled mediocrity.
Before I start diving into negatives, however, I need to point out that my friend and I had a lot of fun with local multiplayer. We spent hours playing the game and we had a great time. That sort of entertainment seems inherent with playing a fighting game with a friend, however, and isn't a really a plus for the game itself. We noticed that there was a strong lack of characters and stages, but at the time we didn't really mind. For the most part we stuck with two characters: I played Ken almost every match, and he played R. Mika, because duh. He used one combo for the most part, what was called a Passion Press. It just looks like an ordinary punch to me, but he was certainly dialing my number nonetheless. Ken didn't help me much, but I have to admit, his Chin Buster attacks are pretty spectacular. The fighting was smooth and I didn't notice any unresponsive controls or confusing layouts. Combos always registered and I got an easy feel for the controls. As someone who is exceedingly unremarkable at Street Fighter games, I felt comfortable controlling the game. Eventually, my friend fell asleep. I was still wired, so I decided to see what single player was like.
Street Fighter V's offline experience is depressing. Not because it's bad, but because it's just kinda... there. There's a story mode and a survival mode. All I really wanted to do was kick CPU butt, and I noticed there wasn't an arcade mode, so I just settled for survival. I quickly began to notice that survival is criminally boring and redundant. It held nothing to a basic arcade mode and the mundane nature of the experience physically wore me down. Everything functioned like it was supposed to, the controls handled well and were responsive, but I wasn't having a good time anymore. I quit survival mode and decided to go for story mode. I thought that if I got story mode out of the way, it would unlock an arcade mode.
The first thing I noticed was that there weren't any difficulties, which was strange. Terrible and thin story aside, this mode is way too easy. Although I'm not an experienced Street Fighter player, I felt like I was kicking CPU butt a little too much for it to be any actual fun. I could forgive the bad story if it were a little more difficult. The experience wasn't rewarding or anything close to resembling fun. I just felt sad. I began to envy my sleeping friend.
I thought that, for a full release, the offline options were surprisingly limited. These events took place within an hour, and I felt like I consumed a sizable portion of SFV's single player experience. I briefly considered trying out online multiplayer, but I figured that I wouldn't find much at 2 AM, so I went to bed instead.
Before I move on to the next morning, I need to talk about the visual experience I had with this game, because oh my God is it an eyesore. Sure, the game runs relatively well on the PS4. The resolution was high definition and the FPS drops were few and far in between. The graphics, however, are appalling. In an age where video game developers are aiming for realistic graphics, it almost seems refreshing that a game embrace its cartoonish nature and design graphics to follow suit, but Street Fighter V did not take the aesthetically pleasing route. A lot of the colour design is garish and far too bright. In a way, it felt like looking at overexposed photography, especially while observing cutscenes. Background images were far too bright and foreground images, at times, looked like they were airbrushed a little too much. In addition, the crude art design of the characters really doesn't fit with a game running at 60 FPS. It was amusing to see R. Mika's realistic hair physics completely not match up with any of her graphic design. The design almost reminded me of a Wallace and Gromit short, especially when the FPS took momentary nosedives.
The next morning I told my friend about my harrowing and sorrowful journey. "Yeah, man, I know. Nothing really there besides that one-on-one. A bud offered $45 for it so I'm giving it to him." I asked him if he had tried online multiplayer, and he told me that the servers were almost always down and he had only ever found one match. I tried myself, and the problems seemed fixed, but man is the experience just disappointing. The online lobbies are one-on-one, too, and it's nowhere near as fun to play 1v1 if the other person isn't in the room with me. I hastily took the disc out and replaced it with Just Cause 3, and I felt much better.
I did a little research and it turns out Capcom is going to be releasing a bunch of free DLC to make up for the lack of content, but, as my friend selling his copy should prove, a lot of people are going to be turned away before any of it is released. This game is a full $60 release, and I just don't see how, considering it feels like it's only a fraction of a greater game. This game is just a depressing wreck, and not necessarily because it's bad, but just because it's so incomplete and middling. It has an entertaining local multiplayer, and it has a pretty great cast of (albeit limited) characters. Other than that, though, it leaves a lot to desire. Street Fighter II is a much more rewarding experience, so you might as well just play that instead.