Street Fighter V Review: The Story Mode Update

Capcom /

Chess pieces, black moons, psycho power, and devour-our-our; Street Fighter V’s story overshadows a strengthened gameplay.

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Platforms: PS4 (Version Reviewed), PC

Release Date: June 30, 2016 (update), February 17, 2016 (original release)

Closing out the end of June, Capcom finally released their cinematic story mode, one that aims to bridge the gap in the series’ narrative arc between Street Fighter IV and III. As confusing as that sounds to newbies, some of the story elements brought forth with this new DLC are perplexing even to veterans. Nevertheless, with the update comes Balrog and Ibuki, giving us a perfect opportunity to update our review of Street Fighter V.

Street Fighter V Story Mode
Capcom /

Story Mode

The game has undergone slow, but steady, changes since its launch. One of the largest obstacles preventing widespread adoption of Street Fighter V was the lack of depth for casual play. “A Shadow Falls” aims to make up for that huge oversight by telling the story of M. Bison’s return to (psycho) power thanks to Operation C.H.A.I.N.S.

If that sounds like a busy, clumped mess of a plotline, congratulations; you’re not alone.

Seven Black Moons have been launched into orbit above major cities throughout the world; each is set with enough electromagnetic power to wipe out an electrical grid. The evil #2, F.A.N.G., displays the new power of Shadaloo over New York City, showing an immense threat to the safety of the world’s citizens. Two groups of the world’s strongest fighters, one openly led by Karin and the other in secret by the mysterious Russian “Helen,” come together to stop Shadaloo as an ancient threat comes back to life to devour the souls of the world’s strongest.

If that sounds like a busy, clumped mess of a plotline, congratulations; you’re not alone. Street Fighter V, much like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, has a story that serves to answer unanswered questions and close the gaps in an established canon. By establishing that truth, however, it handicaps the ability to tell a gripping story with character stakes.

Street Fighter V Story Mode
Capcom /

For example, the ongoing subplot of the Street Fighter V story is Necalli’s random pop-ins to fighters like Ryu, Dhalsim, M. Bison, and Charlie Nash. His purpose in creation seems to be about devouring the souls of the powerful entities on Earth, as established in his character story mode back from launch, but comes now at the time the world is in great crisis.

A character that eats the living essences of humanity should pose a legitimate threat, perhaps even devouring a known character within the Street Fighter V universe. Unfortunately, the purported “big bad” is nothing but a fearsome-looking pushover who does nothing but look menacing and act as a punching bag.

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Cool ideas that falter in execution are littered throughout Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls. The biggest narrative obstacle for the most popular character in franchise history, Ryu, involves overcoming the internal threat of the Satsui no Hado that overtakes him in order for the story to make sense in Street Fighter III. How that challenge is overcome by Ryu remains a mystery, as most of his character development happens off-screen.

The lack of character-building is my biggest problem with the Street Fighter V story mode; practically nobody is a character. Zangief remains surface-level (a surface laden with muscles), Balrog remains a hired gun with few motivations, and few others have any motivations laid out at all. Despite the pending doom of the world, most characters feel shoved in because Capcom needed to check off the “Story Mode” box to fulfill a story.

Street Fighter V Story Mode
Capcom /

Shaky foundations and all the object, hair and physics-clipping in the world aside, there are some saving graces to the Street Fighter V story mode. Rashid might be one of the most entertaining characters ever to be introduced to the series, and has plenty to do in “A Shadow Falls.” Cammy and Nash both have relatable goals and desires in their involvement, and present intriguing characters with ambitions that may force them into undesired circumstances.

Finally, it was just great to see the entire cast of Street Fighter V in one platform. Urien and Juri are not yet ready for a multiplayer audience, yet they both shined well in their brief appearances here. Each had a seemingly fair amount to do with the story, both in the background and in the forefront, and each brought a distinct personality that shone among the rest of the fighters-as-heroes cast.

Additional Characters, Stages

As it currently stands, Street Fighter V has 20 playable characters. Balrog and Ibuki recently joined the roster as part of the Wave 1 DLC, joining Alex and Guile. Getting a boxing character into the group early is important, as the added variety of fighting styles makes for a more pleasant online experience. Balrog even has a foot stomp now, expanding his move set from previous games.

Street Fighter V Ibuki kuni throw
Capcom /

Three brand new stages, as well as three variants, have also been added since launch, bringing the variety of pleasant stages to play on in Street Fighter V to 16 (plus “The Grid”). One of the most visually entertaining stages, the Kanzuki Beach, does present unfair elements in its existence. Rolling waves and other present bodies of water hide stage objects like Birdy’s soda cans, banana peels, and the like. Not only is it banned at tournaments immediately, but presents problems for casual players, as well.

Capcom’s decision to bring returning characters into Street Fighter V as part of the first wave of DLC is an excellent ode to the series fans, especially as they play in the story mode. You can bring an Urien and Juri into the story before they’re even selectable as roster characters based on their established moves, and not present the same narrative and design problems brand new characters would create.

Other Gameplay Changes

Since launch, one of the biggest problems facing online play has been addressed; ragequitters. When Street Fighter V was first released, Capcom presented no punishments for players who left before a match was over an extreme number of times. Since then, Capcom has implemented a number of “solutions.” As a stop-gap, they showed their seriousness by taking away stolen points and banning members who were notorious in their zealous quitting.

Street Fighter V now has the foundations of solid teaching mechanics that provide players with enough tools to learn from the best and take on information as education.

A more automatic implementation involves a two-hour ban for repeat offenders, however, the player subject to the ragequit is still left hanging out to dry. Capcom’s refusal to award points to victims of this system means players are still wasting their time. Fight Money is a valuable commodity when playable characters, stages, and costumes are on the line, and allowing ragequitters to get the last laugh at the end of the day is a major oversight.

Casually, newcomers should benefit from free updates more than ever at this point, with the addition of trials, challenges, and increased online lobby options. Street Fighter V now has the foundations of solid teaching mechanics that provide players with enough tools to learn from the best and take on information as education. They should have been ready for launch, but they are welcome additions in the time leading up to the fighting game community’s major event of the year, Evo 2016.

Street Fighter V alex rage critical arts
Capcom /

The core mechanics of Street Fighter V remain as excellent as it ever was at launch, if not better due to added character variety. Capcom built the game as a slow burner at the expense of sales, but are slowly building up a contender among the series’ best. Its biggest remaining problem is with server connectivity. Finding matches online might be difficult at times, although once you’re in, the actual netcode for combat is fairly strong.

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Capcom so needed the story mode for Street Fighter V to sell the series to casual players, but I’m not sure it did more than to service the backstory for series veterans. The harder difficulty unlocked after completion makes it a challenging attempt, adding to its enjoyment. “A Shadow Falls” ultimately did not harm Street Fighter V’s reputation; it just didn’t make the overall product excel beyond the sum of its excellent (individually) parts.

8.5. <em>Street Fighter V</em> remains one of the best active fighting games in the scene right now, but more so with the slow release of new characters, stages and newbie-centric features than its grandiose story mode. Capcom’s efforts in building a fighting game for the eSports audience remains its strength, even if it means a lower adoption rate from players who have a passing interest in fighting games. We’ll have to see how things change with the ongoing nature of the game’s active development.. Capcom. . Street Fighter V

This review has taken every aspect of the ongoing development of this game into consideration as of press time. A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.