Street Fighter V packs more punch than before

Rating: 9/10

Price: $74.90 (PS4, version tested), $80 (PC)

Genre: Fighting game

Whether you are a long-time fan or someone completely new to fighting games, there is a lot to like about Street Fighter V.

Long-time fans will appreciate its faster-paced fights, a stark contrast to Street Fighter IV's mechanics that promoted a "Turtle Fighter" mentality.

A Turtle Fighter is an opponent who does not advance on your position, choosing instead to stay put and throw fireballs at you the entire round. So effective is this strategy that it is not uncommon to see both players hurl a seemingly endless barrage of fireballs at each other in past instalments.

Recognising that such stalemates are boring to play and aggravating to watch, the developers have given players more ways to get around those pesky fireballs.

The game balance in Street Fighter V is much tighter than before, partially owing to the fact that there are only 16 characters to select from, down from 44 in the previous iteration.

Twelve of the 16 fighters return from past instalments. Eight of them are iconic characters like Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li, while the remaining four, which includes US Marine Charlie Nash, made their last playable appearance in 1998.

Six more fighters will be released as downloadable content over this year, and they can be purchased with real money or unlocked through playing.

All the returning fighters have received an overhaul in terms of how they play. While some of the tactics you learnt from past games may work here, for the most part, you will have to develop new strategies.

Despite all the new mechanics, Street Fighter V still manages to be the most accessible version yet - even for absolute beginners. Novice players may notice that moves and combos are easier to perform here than in older games.

In addition, a patch released last month has added tutorials explaining not only the game's basics but also advanced tactics that most players will never discover on their own.

However, in the developers' blind pursuit of excellence, they have practically abandoned the single- player game.

Plus, while there is a Story mode, which explores character back stories, it is far too brief - you can finish it in under an hour.

A separate two-hour Cinematic Story mode is slated to be patched into the game in June. But even if you count that in, Street Fighter V is still incredibly light on single-player content.

Verdict: Get it only if you enjoy the thrill of matching wits and reflexes against live human opponents.

Sim Cheng Kai is a freelance writer who loves fighting games.

This article was first published on April 13, 2016.
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