Iterating on a formula as tried and true as Street Fighter
's must be no small order. Change too much and it doesn't feel like a Street Fighter
game. Change too little and people will wonder at the game's overall necessity. With Street Fighter V
, Capcom has put in arguably their best work to date. In terms of sheer fundamentals, nothing is too different. Classic abilities and special moves remain unchanged in terms of input and rhythm, but other mechanics have been cut in favor of something better.
The only discernible major cut from Street Fighter IV's universal ability pool is the Focus Attack, the charge and release staggering move that helps besieged competitors break out of an opponent's combo by absorbing one blow and launching a powerful attack that brings the enemy fighter to his/her knees. Skilled players were able to follow up with combos of their own.
Capcom fills the void left by the polarizing mechanic with one that is easily one of the best and most welcome improvements to the core formula the series has ever seen. Enter the V-Gauge. As your opponent lands hits, this gauge fills. When the V-Gauge reaches a certain threshold, your combat options multiply. You have three choices: the V-Skill, the V-Reversal, and the V-Trigger. This may sound familiar so far; indeed, the V-Gauge definitely compares with special meters from other fighting games, but this one is wholly unique in that its applications are, in many ways, fighter-exclusive.
Consider the V-Skill, for example. Ryu's is the parry from Street Fighter III. Ken's has him instantly close the distance between himself and his opponent in one ferocious dash. Zangief walks slowly towards his foe, Terminator style, able to absorb one hit before finishing the cycle and letting loose. V-Skills are unique to each and every playable fighter, and that's what makes them special.
V-Reversals are closer in nature to Killer Instinct's Combo Breakers, as they allow you to launch an immediate counterattack when you're on the receiving end of the pain.
Finally, V-Triggers endow the combatant with passive abilities. These usually manifest themselves in buffs to special abilities, but others unleash special moves that have the potential to instantly turn a losing fight into a winning one.
Reviewing Street Fighter V is one of the most difficult tasks Iíve faced as a reviewer. I know a fair chunk of it is, in essence, me bludgeoning a dead horse with a giant cricket bat for several paragraphs, but itís the nature of the beast. I feel like Iíve said a lot about Street Fighter V, but trust me: thereís far more that I could not. Hold off on buying this one for now. Weíre probably due for several upgraded versions in the future as it is.