I didn’t have an official appointment with Capcom, so every time I passed by their booth at E3, I’d get a forlorn feeling as I looked at the lines for Street Fighter V. I’m a die-hard fan of the series who lost his proverbial shit when the game was announced, so not being able to play the game which was less than 20 feet from me, hurt the soul of my inner warrior.
Fortune turned in my favor on the last day of the conference however when the lines had thinned out and I saw a chance for me to get some hands-on time with the demo. They had stations with controllers and arcade sticks. Despite me being a devoted SF‘er, I’m much better with a controller and opted for that option. The DualShock 4 isn’t as great as my Hori fightpad, but it got the job done. This was Street Fighter V and I was happy.
For my first round, I was lucky enough to be paired up with a fan that Capcom invited who was himself very knowledgeable of all things Street Fighter. This dude had apparently played the demo to death during E3 so he knew all of the ins and outs and imparted his wisdom onto me. I sucked up my pride and let him take it easy on me so that he could show me some of the intricacies and changes made to the game.
The first thing that got my attention was that this game was faster than Street Fighter IV. SFIV had a certain sluggish feeling to it, and while SFV has a bit of this as well, it isn’t as immediately noticeable and it certainly doesn’t hurt the game in any way. The other things that stood out was that the camera is slightly pulled back; making the characters appear smaller on screen. This is actually something I appreciated as I felt the characters in SFIV were too big. As far as presentation goes, this felt like the SF games of old and I loved that.
While it may have looked and felt more like a traditional Street Fighter game, there are enough mechanical changes to make it feel like something fresh. The first thing is that Focus Attacks are no more. If you relied on this technique in SFIV you will have to change your strategies up completely. Though Focus Attacks are gone, something else has taken its place and brings with it a whole new way of playing the game.
The Variable System, or V-System, is at the heart of the game and consists of three mechanics: V-Skill, V-Trigger and V-Reversal. V-Skills and V-Triggers are unique to each character and help to even the odds between players. V-Reversals are like Alpha Counters from Street Fighter Alpha but have different outcomes depending on the character. These moves can be initiated by using bars from the V-Gauge which fills up as damage is taken. The Ex-Gauge fills up as damage is dealt and can be used to deliver more powerful versions of super moves or to unleash Critical Arts which are cinematic super moves.
I played as Ryu and Nash for my hands-on time. Ryu plays almost exactly as I remember and is the reason I picked him first to get acclimated to SFV. A few of my go-to combos worked, some didn’t, but he was basically old-school Ryu. What made him unique however is that he can do parries which are similar to those found in Street Fighter III. The window for parrying attacks isn’t as short as in SFIII which will make it easier for people to use.
Nash on the other hand played completely differently than what I am used to. Nash was basically a more powerful version of Guile in SFA but now he isn’t really much of a charge character. I still managed to win the round where I used Nash, but he was more or less an entirely new character. This is fine however, and just means I have to get used to how he controls now.
My time with Street Fighter V was short (too, too short) but I loved it. This is feeling more like the Street Fighter game I wanted SFIV to be (and I loved that one as well). I’m sure as we get closer to the launch that we’ll see more characters revealed and more features as well. There is a public beta coming if you pre-order the game so when I get on that, you can be sure I’ll be dropping my thoughts on it.