Street Fighter V

STILL A KNOCK­OUT

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NOW PC, PS4 HE STREET Fighter fran­chise has long been pulling in the pun­ters time af­ter time while stay­ing largely true to the for­mula that made it fa­mous. It’s been nearly three decades since the se­ries’ 1987 de­but, and while a rad­i­cal reinvention is nei­ther wanted nor needed, even Street Fighter needs to keep up with the times. Hap­pily, cre­ator Yoshi­nori Ono has struck a con­vinc­ing bal­ance with Street Fighter V. The clas­sic 2D beat-’em-up ac­tion re­mains — al­beit pow­ered by a stun­ning 3D en­gine — and fa­mil­iar bruis­ers like Ken, Ryu, Chun-li and M. Bi­son are present and cor­rect. The brawl­ing, how­ever, has evolved just enough to feel like a whole new game.

Ono has tin­kered with the con­trol sys­tem, adding a new layer of daunting tech­niques to get your head around in the form of the V- Sys­tem, which con­sists of three main el­e­ments: V- Skill, V-trig­ger and V-re­ver­sal. It sounds baf­fling, but in prac­tice feels far more or­ganic than the byzan­tine me­chan­ics of in­stal­ments past. V- Skills ac­ti­vate new abil­i­ties (they give Ryu the abil­ity to parry, for ex­am­ple) and fill up the char­ac­ter’s V- Gauge. V-trig­gers use up said gauge and act like ex­tra spe­cial moves, while V-re­ver­sals are use­ful if you’re un­der the cosh, act­ing as su­per-blocks that push en­e­mies back.

Th­ese new tech­niques add to the mix of spe­cial moves and pow­ered-up EX at­tacks to cre­ate a fight­ing sys­tem that hits the sweet spot of easy-to-grasp but gru­elling-to-mas­ter. For those com­ing to Street Fighter for the first time, SFV is grat­i­fy­ingly quick to get to grips with, short­en­ing the oblig­a­tory train­ing phase be­fore play­ers feel com­fort­able brav­ing the cru­cible of com­pet­i­tive on­line play.

This lat­est it­er­a­tion sees the fran­chise look­ing bet­ter than ever (the V- Skills in par­tic­u­lar come with daz­zling py­rotech­nics), is snap­pily re­spon­sive and adds some wel­come new faces to the ros­ter in the form of Ne­calli, Rashid, Laura and F.A.N.G.. Com­bined with its as­sort­ment of game­play tweaks, Street Fighter V rep­re­sents the cur­rent state of the beat-’em-up art, and while PS4 ex­clu­siv­ity will come as a hadouken in the face for Xbox own­ers, for Sonyphiles this will be a thor­oughly wel­come re­turn for a cher­ished clas­sic. STEVE BOXER

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