Street Fighter V



The first playable build of Street Fighter V had an in­ter­est­ing, uh, fea­ture. If player two picked Chun Li, her char­ac­ter model’s breasts would take on grav­ity-de­fy­ing prop­er­ties as the match loaded in, twirling away like no­body’s busi­ness. It was dis­missed as a bug, but it felt more like a mis­chievous de­signer giv­ing testers some­thing to gawp at to help while away some very long load­ing times. Lit­tle did we know that T&A would be a re­cur­ring theme: the load­ing screens may have lost their lu­di­crous jig­gling, but Cap­com sure has made up for it else­where.

R Mika, in fairness, has al­ways been gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned, but the leap from the Street Fighter Al­pha games’ anime-like sprites to SFV’s 3D mod­els makes her as­sets stand out all the more. Her Crit­i­cal Art su­per move sees her sum­mon an off­screen wrestling part­ner for a tag move that cul­mi­nates in the op­po­nent’s head be­ing crushed be­tween two sets of large, mus­cu­lar but­tocks – a new, com­i­cal take on the con­cept of a booty call. Brazil­ian war­rior Laura is sim­i­larly buxom, and just as un­der­dressed.

This isn’t just about em­bar­rass­ment, al­though those who have been play­ing Street Fighter for 25 years and are now wor­ry­ing about play­ing this version in front of part­ners and chil­dren cer­tainly have cause for con­cern. This is about more than gen­der-pol­i­tics pearl clutch­ing, too. What is most off-putting about Cap­com’s new-found pen­chant for the pen­du­lous is that it’s now bor­row­ing a tac­tic from a quar­ter-cen­tury’s worth of Games That Are Not Street Fighter, the pre­tenders to the throne that had to do some­thing dif­fer­ent to stand out, and chose to do so by ex­ag­ger­at­ing two things that, well, stand out.

While there’s room for con­cern over SFV’s artis­tic di­rec­tion, Cap­com’s game­play de­signs re­main in­trigu­ing on pa­per and in­tox­i­cat­ing in the hands. And there are few clearer sig­nals of the com­pany’s me­chan­i­cal in­tent than the newly an­nounced Dhal­sim. Now older and in pos­ses­sion of a quite re­mark­able white beard, the yoga mas­ter still has the keep-away tools that have stood him apart from the rest of the Street Fighter cast for all th­ese years, his sig­na­ture stretchy limbs now joined by a multi-arc version of his Yoga Fire pro­jec­tile. But he has more of­fen­sive moves now, too, and real combo po­ten­tial. He will, as ever, be best used at range, but it will no longer be cur­tains for him when an op­po­nent man­ages to close the dis­tance. Other clas­sic char­ac­ters have been given sim­i­lar me­chan­i­cal makeovers. Vega can now re­move and re­place his trade­mark claw at will, us­ing his fists for fancy com­bos and his steel for ranged pokes, a com­bi­na­tion that has made him one of the big­gest threats in the cur­rent build. Ryu and Ken have never felt so dif­fer­ent, the for­mer zon­ing with fire­balls and his parry V-Skill, do­ing big dam­age in a few hits. Ken, mean­while, is fast, flashy and ag­gres­sive thanks to a V-Trig­ger that works like Street Fighter IV’s Fo­cus At­tack Dash Can­cel, in­ter­rupt­ing the fi­nal frames of an at­tack and see­ing him rush for­ward to con­tinue the as­sault.

V-Skills and V-Trig­gers, moves unique to each mem­ber of the cast, mean that ev­ery fighter feels very dif­fer­ent in the hands, a refreshing con­trast to the SFIII and SFIV days, when the ros­ter was united by cast-wide moves such as the Fo­cus At­tack. This will re­sult in a tougher bal­anc­ing job for Cap­com, though. If the re­cent on­line beta is any guide, it needs to take a good look at Vega, whose over­haul may have been too gen­er­ous. And time with the Paris Games Week build, which has an al­most-com­plete cast, sug­gests Zang­ief could do with more love, an aerial vari­ant of his Spin­ning Piledriver and the hit-ab­sorb­ing Iron Mus­cle be­ing scant com­pen­sa­tion for the loss of sev­eral use­ful tools he had in SFIV. If Cap­com gets it all in equi­lib­rium, this will be the most var­ied Street Fighter yet made. Should it fail to, SFV may be re­mem­bered as the point at which the se­ries went tits up.

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