No video game reveal this year has blindsided me more than that Street Fighter V trailer leak, which then lead to a dramatic announcement during PlayStation Experience. Not even the surprise announcement of Star Fox during the GA could take away from the shock waves caused by Street Fighter V. To add more to the shock factor, Capcom confirmed that the game will be PlayStation 4 console exclusive, with the PC and arcade version being the only other alternatives.
Before getting into this exclusivity issue, let’s look at the game first. The first thing that everyone is going to notice and react to are the new visuals, and as expected there is a lot of complaining going around on social media. These are the same people who picked up their pitchforks when they first saw Street Fighter IV, and another good example is the initial backlash towards the face-lift in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. People described the visual revamp in Street Fighter IV as ugly when it was first unveiled, only for them to grow appreciative of the style soon after. Now the visual style of Street Fighter V is getting a similar reception, and honestly it’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. The style and art is not shockingly different from what we saw in its predecessor. Street Fighter V retains the same 2.5D anime style of the last game, but introduces a darker and more serious aesthetic, unlike the colorful, vibrant and almost goofy exterior of Street Fighter IV. To use another Zelda analogy, the visual contrast between V and IV is almost like that between Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.
All that said, this game looks positively hot. The brief gameplay trailer showcased Ryu and Chun Li pulling off all their signature offense, and provides enough insight to get you excited for the next generation of Street Fighter. The graphics look spectacular with the detailed character models, dazzling particle effects and a flashy stage. Speaking of which, it looks like Capcom will be taking a page out of Dead or Alive by making stages more interactive. The trailer showed Ryu crashing through a wall, only to reveal a new area to fight in. This is a pretty nifty touch that will really bolster the presentation of fights.
The whole PS4 console exclusivity deal is causing the same outcry that Rise of the Tomb Raider did when it was announced to be Xbox One console exclusive (although a timed exclusive from the looks of it). It’s not clear how permanent this exclusivity is, but as of right now PS4 has scored its single biggest third party exclusive yet. If the console is truly the home for Street Fighter V this generation, then Sony have got themselves one hell of an investment if the still dedicated console community support for Street Fighter IV is any indication. But to add further validity to this exclusivity arrangement, Capcom added an extra cherry on the cake by announcing Ultra Street Fighter IV as a current-gen PS4 exclusive. As a Japanese brand this partnership is almost logical, and with the current install base of the PS4, coupled with the fact that it’s also getting games like Guilty Gear Xrd, the system has now become the go to platform for fighting fans.
All that said, leaving Xbox One out of the equation is quite harsh. Now granted Japanese fighting games like BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, and Arcana Heart barely have an active audience on Xbox Live, so it makes sense for those games to be Sony exclusive. Street Fighter, on the other hand, is a stark exception to this trend, because even right now you will not struggle to find an online match in the Xbox 360 version of Ultra Street Fighter IV. Street Fighter is a globally recognized franchise that is played extensively by fanatics and casual players alike, and it is perhaps the only Japanese fighting series that has blurred cultural boundaries. So to exclude Xbox One entirely is to exclude a strong crowd that would have feverishly supported Street Fighter V. PlayStation fans have every right to celebrate this amazing acquisition by Sony, but in the grand scheme of things a game like Street Fighter V needs to reach as many gamers as possible to leave a permanent mark on gaming history.
Anyone who doesn’t have a PS4 should still be excited as they still have the PC version to look forward to. While the arcade scene maybe be dead outside of Japan, Street Fighter cabinets are still commonplace and so at least there’s an excuse to embrace the arcades once Street Fighter V machines arrive. Still, if things change and Xbox One ends up getting Super Street Fighter V, then it’s just a matter of patience and perseverance.