Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (Playstation 4 Review)
The growing industry of eSports has made considerable change to the economy of fighting games. Back in 2016, Street Fighter V was released with the competitive scene as its target audience and has had a successful run with Capcom Pro Tour over the past two years. However, the non-competitive audience of the Street Fighter had mixed-at-best response to V’s launch. An initially small roster of selectable characters, problematic online and a lack of single player content were some of many criticisms that dogged Street Fighter V’s reception and sales. Although more features and content were gradually added over its lifespan, to really re-gain favour with general audiences, Capcom have given Street Fighter a fresh new coat of paint in the form of “Arcade Edition”. And yes, it actually has arcade mode this time around.
Before we get into the review, it’s important to note what you’re getting if you’re buying Arcade Edition as an update to your own copy or individually without any Street Fighter V data. In the case of the former, the update is free, but you will not get any of the Season 1 or Season 2 DLC characters if you had yet to purchase them; be it with in-game currency or your own money. As for the latter, Arcade Edition comes with all the new updates and both DLC passes for Season 1 and Season 2 DLC. However, these are in the form of codes, so be sure not to get a pre-owned copy of Arcade Edition in case those codes are already used. Neither option will give you access to the Season 3 character pass, which has to be bought separately. Though this time around we know what characters will be there from the get-go (Sakura, Blanka, Falke, Cody, G and Sagat).
The most obvious new feature here is the long overdue Arcade mode, doing an interesting spin on the formula that long time Street Fighter fans will appreciate. Players can choose what style of Arcade Mode to play, based on the previous Street Fighter titles, going through Street Fighter 1 right up to Street Fighter V. Each respective style of Arcade Mode has characters exclusive to play as, for example, Birdie only being playable in Street Fighter 1 and Alpha, and there are re-arrangements of the character select, face-off and victory themes from each style to boot. Bonus rounds like the classic barrel-breaking mini-game make a return as well. Character endings are extremely basic though, featuring just a single screen of comic-panel artwork. Team Battle is also a new addition, allowing to have teams of up to five players square off; a neat mode whether you’re competing in a team tournament setting or just having some friends over to play.
As for new gameplay features, there is really only one new addition, which comes in the form of a second selectable V-Trigger for the whole character roster. Not unlike the inclusion of choosing a second Ultra in Super Street Fighter IV, this intends to add variety in how players prefer to play their character. It’s quite needed since Street Fighter V has been maligned for lacking individuality and creativity in how characters can be played. While some of the new V-Triggers seem well thought out, such as Alex’s which grants him his DDT from Third Strike and a neck-sleeper finish to his Flash Chop, others don’t seem to be a worthwhile choice over the previous V-Trigger. It’s hard to see a Urien player forgo the offensive and defensive capabilities of Aegis Reflector in favour of the reduced V-Gauge cost yet more limited potential with Tyrant Blaze. Some feel downright useless, like Zeku’s second V-Trigger giving him just a one-shot uppercut move.
Training Mode comes with a few new bells and whistles, with plus and negative frames of moves being visible in the Attack Data display, and a blue and red shading option on the characters. V-Triggers can also be swapped in the practice mode menu which alleviates having to go back to the character select screen. The last mode to discuss here is the addition of Extra Battle Mode, and it is one of the most eyebrow-raising due to its “pay to enter” system; your in-game currency has to spent in order to enter these challenges which change on a weekly to monthly basis. At the time of this review, there is one challenge where you take on the super-boss Shin Akuma (good luck with that) and a much easier challenge where you have to defeat a costumed character (in this instance, Rashid dressed as Viewtiful Joe) in order to gain one of four emblems each week in order to unlock said costume.
Extra Battle mode could possibly be looked over if weren’t for Arcade Edition’s most polarising change: the removal of fight money rewards from Story Mode, Trial Mode and Survival Mode. Prior to Arcade Edition’s release, I found these modes would be a handy way to learn newly released characters while earning some fight money on the side. With their removal, I found little incentive to do so, particularly with Sakura being a character I’m not wholly interested in playing. Fight money rewards from the weekly challenges and online still remain, but you’re going to need the patience of a saint to tediously grind all that fight money to have enough to just even buy a new character. All these changes seem to be a ploy to feed your temptation to buy the season pass for this year’s upcoming new characters, and Capcom have made themselves come across as manipulative and avaricious as ever.
For every step forward that Arcade Edition has made, it goes another two steps back. There is more single player content on offer, but with far less reward for your time invested. A lot of new V-Triggers are added, but many come across as moot in their usability. It’s coming up to two years since Street Fighter V’s initial launch and it still is in controversy with what Arcade Edition has changed as of now. A lot of my perseverance with this series seems to be wasteful as it seems Capcom will never wholly rectify their mistakes. You can guarantee Arcade Edition will still have success in the eSports industry, but it has honestly lost me as a fighting game fan. It’s a fortunate thing that other fighting games are just around the corner to pick up and try out.