Monday, January 22, 2018

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition Review

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is the latest update for SFV. It comes with new training mode features, a redone UI, Team Battle, a new V-Trigger for every character, a bunch of balance changes, and Arcade Mode. It’s available for $40 in one package with the base game, or as a free update for those who already own SFV. The standalone version comes with all the season 1 and 2 characters, and 1 extra costume for each character, but besides that, it’s the same as the free update. As part of the launch, everyone gets a 1 week free trial of Sakura with all her costumes.

The biggest feature in this update is the Arcade mode. That’s right, Street Fighter V has been out since February 2016, with no arcade mode. It feels like they’re trying to make it up to us with this update, though. This new mode lets you play through 6 different Arcade Mode versions, each inspired by a different Street Fighter game or series. These modes retell the story of SFI, SFII, the SF Alpha series, SFIII, and SFIV, and reveal new character specific details about SFV’s story. The description of each version even spells out the chronological order of the games, which is; SFI, SFA, SFII, SFIV, SFV, and SFIII.

Each version of Arcade mode has new remixed music and a game specific roster. Some versions also let you pick your opponent SFIII style, if there are enough characters for it. There’s some cool little details and callbacks to the original games in here. The SFII mode has a barrel breaking bonus stage, featuring Final Fight thug, Two.P. Sadly, there is no car smashing bonus stage. Fights take place in the character’s stages, or the next best thing. Fighters wear the clothes they wore in those games, and you might even encounter Akuma at the end of SFIV.

Every version of arcade mode features unique endings for all characters playable within them. Characters that appear in all versions, like Ken and Ryu, get 6 endings in total. These endings are basically comic book spreads with a little bit of text. SF1-SFIV’s endings are mostly retelling the character’s stories in those games, but the SFV ones are all new.

They made the best of use of what’s available in SFV to make these different Arcade Mode versions. There really isn't a lot of new stuff, it's just SFV characters and stages presented in new ways. Some versions, like the SF1 and SFIII ones, are really reaching to make something out of what's available. SF1 is severely hurt by the absence of Sagat, who was the game's last boss, and a huge part of Ryu’s story. It’s also hurt by the fact that Ken, Ryu, and Birdie are the only SF1 characters in SFV. They've thrown in Abigail, and Guy's sensei, Zeku, in what looks like an attempt to fill in the gaps with Final Fight related characters, and it sort of works. FF was actually going to be a sequel to SF1 at one point, and it was almost called Street Fighter ‘89, so I guess it makes sense to combine it with SF1.

After beating Arcade Mode, you unlock that character’s ending in the new Gallery. You can also unlock other pieces of Street Fighter art by meeting certain conditions during your playthrough. For example, you can unlock a piece of art by completing SF1 Arcade Mode with Ryu, without using continues. You can also view both the old and new opening movies, and listen to the game’s soundtrack in the Gallery.

AE comes with some big changes to how the in-game currency, Fight Money, is earned. The big weekly mission’s prize has been halved from 5,000 FM, to 2,500 FM. You also can no longer get FM from survival mode, demonstrations, trials, character stories, or story mode. You can still get XP from some of these offline modes, and you still get Fight Money every time you gain a level on a character. These changes make it much harder to get enough FM to buy any DLC with, pushing you to use real money instead.

Another new mode in this update is Extra Battle. These are timed challenges which you pay Fight Money to play. They can reward you with titles, costumes, character XP, and Fight Money if you win. It's literally gambling. The first challenges available were a 1 round fight against Shin Akuma, which could reward you with a title or 10k XP, and a fight against Rashid in a Viewtiful Joe costume, for the chance to win the costume piece by piece. Shin Akuma is, of course, super cheap and OP, will Raging Demon you for about 75% of your HP, and starts with full V-Trigger and super meters. This mode seems like a trap to take your Fight Money, so you spend more real money on DLC. No sir, I don't like it.

Hidden on a second tab in the VS mode, is the new Team Battle mode. This is not a Marvel VS Capcom style tag battle mode, like the name might suggest. It’s more for elimination matches between two teams. You can set the rules up to play King of Fighters style matches, too, which is how I’ve been playing it. It’s pretty cool. It’s a shame it’ll probably be ignored by most people, because it’s not online.

Along with AE, come a bunch of balance changes, which you can read about here, a second V-Trigger for every character, which you can read about here, and watch a video of all of them here. The new V-Triggers generally try to give you options for different styles of play. For example, Guile’s VT1 gives him quick Sonic Booms, while his VT2 gives him Flash Kicks that shoot out Sonic Booms. I especially like Sakura’s VT2, which gives her the hurricane kick that launches her opponent in the air from Street Fighter IV.

As part of the AE launch, everyone gets a 1 week free trial of the newest addition to the SFV roster, Sakura. You can also buy her Street Fighter Alpha 2 stage, which comes with an awesome new version of Sakura’s theme. She plays a little differently than she does in SFIV, but she’s still a fun character. Sakura also gets a new character story in Story Mode, which deals with her growing up, getting a job, and her relationship with Ryu. It definitely goes places I didn’t see it going. Weird places.

Fight Money and DLC shenanigans aside, this is a great update, no matter how you get it. This is how the game should have come out 2 years ago. It sucks that it has taken this long to get the game up to the standard of SFIV at its launch, but at least we have a game you can recommend to any Street Fighter fan now, and not just to the tournament crowd.