Friday, December 9, 2022

Street Fighter 5 is an underrated gem, if you can play it like it’s meant to be

Street Fighter 5 is an amazing game that I wish I could play with more of you, at least the way it’s meant to be played. I’m not referring to how people choose to play the game, offensively, defensively or any mix of those things.

What I am getting at is due to the game’s issues with its netcode and input delay on the PlayStation platform, you may not be getting a great experience, but for those of you with a good internet connection and the ability to play on PC, this is an underrated gem of a game.

Being a veteran of the fighting game community for over 30 years now, I can say this is my favorite entry in the franchise, but I also understand it’s not for everyone. Depending on the platform you play this on, and the setup you have, you can have an amazing experience with players from around the globe who were logging half a million matches per day, back in 2020.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the luxury of a solid PC and good internet connection, this game can be a really difficult sell.

If you gave up on Street Fighter 5 shortly after its release in 2016, I don’t blame you. The game has been improved dramatically since that time with fully fleshed out single player content, a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and technical issues somewhat mitigated, like input delay.

Back when the game first launched, I couldn’t even give Capcom more of my money to buy one of Chun-Li’s alternative outfits that I badly wanted, because the store wasn’t working at all. Issues like these left an incredibly poor taste in consumer’s mouths, and rightfully so.

However, what’s available now is considerably better than what was on hand at launch, hence why we’re re-reviewing the game some 6 years after it was released to the public.

The gameplay is deep and rewarding, the graphics hold up well for a game over half a decade old, and the music options are the best that has ever been made available in a Street Fighter title. The game is often on sale on Steam and PlayStation for $5 to $10 USD for the base product.

This is a complaint I’ve seen thrown at this game quite a bit through the years, and it’s definitely the case with a handful of the cast members, namely Cammy, M. Bison, Necalli and Balrog. These character’s gameplay is highly limited and offers little in the way of variety, but they’re heavily juxtaposed with fighters like Menat, Zeku, Dhalsim, Poison and Rose who offer a tremendous amount of options while playing.

Like in most fighting games, character choice matters considerably and will heavily dictate the kind of experience you may have. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having more simple characters for gamers to play as, where Street Fighter 5 has ran into issues is that some of these easier characters have been made ridiculously strong, hurting the game’s overall balance and the variety of roster members you see .

Very often with fighting games, people want the easy and strong stuff that will lead the masses to play as these characters in droves, and people may assume that’s all a game has to offer, but depth and complexity are a few taps of a joystick on the character select screen away.

This is the most Marvel vs. Capcom-y Street Fighter game that Capcom has ever released, and that means there’s tons of powerful options and setups to throw out there, but the offense can be overwhelming and too intense for players who prefer more of a methodical approach. Understanding how to anticipate and adapt to these situations is extremely key to having success in Street Fighter 5.

Some of the things that makes Street Fighter 5 a special game are CFN (Capcom Fighters Network) and it’s very robust replay and training modes. If you’ve ever wanted to easily look up combos for players who are lower level than say someone like Daigo Umehara, it’s entirely possible to do so without sifting through hours of tournament footage.

CFN’s replay search allows you to find players at or around your skill level and pull up their footage to study their inputs, timing and tactics in seconds. Hitting a skill wall and not knowing where to go is a very common problem in fighting games, but with SF5 going into the various menus will lead you to a multitude of options to educate and improve yourself quickly.

The game also features an online blacklist feature, where if you run across a couple of players who’s connections aren’t worth the trouble, you can add them to your online blacklist and never have to play against them again.

Here in 2022, Street Fighter 5’s largest flaw may be its netcode for a number of players. It definitely does NOT keep pace with the likes of Guilty Gear Strive and Mortal Kombat 11, despite it being rollback based.

On my fiber internet connection, I can play people all the way across the US and have it be buttery smooth, but sometimes gamers a few states away will be extremely choppy and near unplayable, to the point where I can’t wait to get out of the game and put them on my blacklist.

The netcode is very much of a hit or miss variety for many people. Some say they have no issues when playing online, while others say most matches are unplayable. Gamers who try their luck over the internet on the PlayStation 4 will often cite issues with lag from input delay and the console struggling to keep up with matches.

Having logged close to 1,200 hours in this game to date on the PC version alone, I can say the netcode has held up fairly well with my connection, but your mileage may vary.

The wind blows hardest at the top of the mountain, and Street Fighter is one of the most popular franchises in the competitive fighting game community. Where other games might have worse input delay and netcode than Street Fighter 5, fans of this franchise are quick to state when they feel there are issues. This has lead much of the feedback about Street Fighter 5, especially given the game’s terrible launch, to be seen as very negative.

However, with numerous issues fixed through the years, or at least mitigated, and the game’s fairly cheap price when it’s on sale, it’s really worth a second or third look.

Capcom successfully bottled chaos and put it into a fighting game with over the top bombastic moves and strategies, and still leaves some room for defense and zoning. Capcom took a big risk with this version of SF, making it play unlike pretty much any title we’ve ever had in the series, but kept most of the moves along with the look and feel that gamers expect.

The developers of this game have generally smoothed off the considerable rough edges the gameplay had initially, and if you didn’t give this game a chance recently, you might give it another look now. It’s not for everyone, but what’s here is one heck of a ride. While the initial release was very rough, if you look a bit closer you might find a highly underrated gem at a very fair price.


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