A reader starts a comprehensive run-down of the best fighters of the current generation, beginning with Capcoms Street Fighter V.
This generation has been very prolific for fighting games. You would be able to easily compile a top 10 and still leave out decent titles. To be upfront with you, there are a couple of gaps in my reading list – as it were – I have not played Guilty Gear Xrd and Samurai Shodown. But other than that, I have at least sampled all the other major players for the current crop of consoles.
But, before we go on, we must address the elephant in the room. I realise that there is a contingent of fighting game fans, myself not among them, who only care about the balancing and mechanics when it comes to the competitive scene, be that online or in tournaments. And, maybe since Virtua Fighter 4, this has been seen as the most important metric of quality rather than anything more interesting or efforts to find a wider audience.
Lets be clear: this is appealing to a niche within a niche, I dont care how much money Capcom and Warner Bros. make out of the Pro Evo tournaments. This cannot be sustained indefinitely and your audiences for these games will whittle down to nothing, and sooner than you may think. So, for those who still persist in their view that single-player doesnt matter in fighting games, waah! No. Single player is not as important, that is true. But, fighting games have had at least a competent stab at single-player since at least Soul Blade.
Its contemporaries Tekken 3 and Fighters Megamix had a nice clutch of unlockables to attain and then there is Dhalsims second elephant: SoulCalibur. I know, weird name for an elephant, right?
20 years ago, this Dreamcast gem showed that a single-player mode, namely Mission Battle, could be as fun as even the very best single-player games. In fact, it felt like the Super Mario 64 of fighting games. After a little tutorial is out of the way, a map of the world opens up to you. Well, the Middle East at first. You hit the Silk Road to face off against Korean David Duchovny, Hwang! You fight him in quicksand, where both of you start sinking and slowing down until you start attacking, then youre fine. But its fun. A lot of fun, actually. Not something you have to convince yourself is fun, Im looking at you NetherRealm!
And before long, you have access to several missions ranging from Ivys creepy mansion in London to a stunning underground river in Japan. SoulCalibur II would be equally creative in single-player, with the dungeons being only a slight blemish. Certainly in comparison to the grind fighting games like to burden you with now. So, let us just please accept that the bar has been raised: twice. If the single-player isnt as good, then the game is naturally inferior as a whole – no matter how nice it handles.
No genre and no one game exists in a vacuum. Fighting games can never be as big a multiplayer draw as shooters. They are not well suited to online, anyway. So, if theres nothing or very little to see or do in single-player, why spend good money on a game that wont have the staying power of a Devil May Cry V or Resident Evil 2? Some fighting games dont even know or care that this is a problem, while others have less than satisfying answers.
So, lets have a look at the big contenders and those that maybe should have been big contenders and where they do and dont do so good.
On the whole, there have been encouraging signs of progress for what can feel like a stagnant genre. But the generation did not start that well…
This is the first part of an ambitiously foolish attempt to chronicle the fighting games of this generation, starting with the great granddaddy of them all: Street Fighter!
Street Fighter V
If you still think that this game was unfairly pilloried when it was launched then Im sorry but I consider you nothing less than a corporate shill. This was an unfinished game that only cared about being out in time for the next big tournament. Capcom promised high quality single-player but it took about an hour to go through the heavily abridged arcade run-throughs with each character. Then the story came along… and that was not a thing that was worth waiting for.
I feel that Japanese developers have looked at NetherRealms work since and including Mortal Kombat 9 and thought: Ah! Thats what people want! Cheesy cut scenes! Um, no. We do not. That NetherRealm can entertain with their B-movie standard writing is not the lesson to learn. With the exception being Mortal Kombat 9, the story modes in NetherRealms games have always been well paced, taught you a wide selection of characters and had well-judged difficulty.
And how well did Capcom do here? Well, the futuristic science-magic chess pieces that you chase after are unintentionally hilarious but any joy you experience is quickly drained by having to play as either F.A.N.G – the objectively worst Street Fighter character – and Nash. Who you play as a whole lot. Seriously, avoid the story mode in this game like the depressing waste of time it is.
I have the Arcade Edition of this game, which gives you multiple routes based on each of the games. There will also be bonus rounds in the Street Fighter II and V routes as well, I think. This is vaguely reminiscent of Fighters Megamix and its multiple, themed routes of opponents. Its not as good, though – I never get to fight a Daytona Hornet or anything! Just steer clear of Story mode.
Its very pretty but barely any more so than Street Fighter IV. Though, you will notice how ugly bare feet are in this game. Eww. Gross. Put some shoes on, Ryu. And you get a lot of classic Street Fighter II tunes, which is nice. Compositions that are new and equally as great seems to too much to ask for though…
I was slightly disappointed by this. I suffered through Street Fighter IV on the Xbox 360 with a standard controller and yet it was as smooth as silk. Some of the best controls youll ever have the pleasure to experience. Coming over to a DualShock 4, which has a better D-pad, I had expected more somehow. But thats just me.
Very little to unlock of value. You can get new characters and costumes by grinding for in-game currency, but it is not fun. Nor can you earn everything with in-game currency, if you had the patience to acquire so much. Arcade Edition does now have something called Extra Battle Mode, which is okay but youll get bored of it quickly.
Mostly flawless. But what flaws that do exist are real stinkers. Whoever came up with F.A.N.G at Capcom has hopefully been fired. And then Psycho Crushered to death. And Nash is slow and heavy and lumbering now! Theyve ruined him! I dont care for Necalli that much, either – yet Rashid and Laura are great fun to play. And while Sagat and Juri should have been available from launch (shame on you, Capcom) they are available for free with the Arcade version.
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