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Review: Street Fighter V Arcade Edition

When Street Fighter V originally released in the spring of 2016 it quite literally broke my heart as a fan of the series and of fighting games. It was an incomplete, half arsed insult to the series that had been pushed to market way before it was ready and long before it should have done. It had a new business model that alienated an entire platform in Xbox but also drip fed original characters back to the roster as DLC and just overall was the low point in the series from someone who happily spent their lunch money just to have a go on the Street Fighter II arcade near my school. Now almost two years later and we have the Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, an almost GOTY version that brings new balance changes and presentation style but also adds a whole bunch of new features which for many should have been in the original release. Has Street Fighter V finally achieved the greatness it promised to have?

I have been keeping an eagle eye on all things to do with this Arcade Edition for months now with the hope and expectations that finally, Street Fighter V could reclaim some dignity for the series. To be clear, I was not just heart broken with how it originally launched but I was absolutely pissed off with how it did. This past year has see a jump in the number of fighting games available with Injustice 2, Capcom Vs Marvel (which you should really avoid) and this week alone will see the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ. I am pleased to say that lessons have very much been learned with Street Fighter V, and for this Arcade Edition they have not only focused on improving the gameplay from the feedback of players but there is a clear and evident  reflection on the changes in the Fighting game genre. Finally the team behind Street Fighter V are showing true shelf awareness of the genre and have looked to part SFV a part of the genre instead of the arrogance of believing having Street Fighter in the title is enough.

The best way to look at this is to quickly highlight exactly what the Arcade Edition brings to the SFV mix:

Now for me the addition of a genuine Arcade Mode is huge for SFV considering it launched without one. The pitiful amount of offline modes at the start was something that really bothered me so to finally see it return and in such a well thought out way is a great thing. Arcade mode includes six different story paths with each representing a Street Fighter series throughout the years such as the original Street Fighter game but also Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter IV and finally Street Fighter V. Each path includes those from the SFV roster which are faithful to that game in the series or best representative of it and features recreated stages as well as remixed backing tracks for each stage. This is just huge fun and was something the original was very much lacking but it just makes so much sense to include as a fighting game without an arcade mode is just wrong…very very wrong.

One of the more natural additions has to be the new Battle Mode which allows players to put together a team of up to five characters to tackle other player team in either elimination or a Best of series of matches that can be further customised in the settings to edit how health is recovered for example. So many games now use the team battle style that by adding it into the mix here it just adds another arrow to the quiver for what experience SFV can finally offer fans and players. The extra battle mode now provides special limited time based challenges but will give out special rewards for completion such as unique costumes, Fight Money and experience points. These are logical additions and just by adding them to the game does show the awareness SFV originally lacked about what natural expectations fans had for this game.

Gameplay has also been looked at with performance enhancements for everyone on the roster based on player feedback since release. The training system has been further improved now to include frame data for learning the pros and cons of moves and combinations of moves and is a great starting point to get familiar with the controls for each fighter. SFV added the V Trigger system to the series and now Arcade Edition gives every member of the roster a second V Trigger option to help players customise how they play and adds a nice twist to fights depending on which is selected and then how it is implemented in the fighting. For me this has made certain characters that I did not originally get on with more open and inviting to use and it does feel like a Street Fighter game that wants me to tuck in and try it all out.

There is just a real sense of finally getting it right with this version of SFV, and it is a gratifying feeling to have. For those who own the original SFV then the Arcade Edition will be a free upgrade to it, bringing it up to date with all the new modes, features and improvements. If you purchase the Arcade Edition it then you will also get access to all the fighters from the Fighter Seasons 1 and 2 giving you the most up to date roster possible as Fighter Season 3 kicks off in 2018. Now sadly, if you are simply upgrading the original game to Arcade Edition that the free update does not include the Season packs which can still be purchased as DLC or individual fighters can be bought using the in game Fight Money currency. By allowing original owners to upgrade for free instead of the previous standard method of just releasing a new version of the SF game in question, it continues to keep the playerbase engaged and inclusive. Another lesson learned by the good folks at CAPCOM.

I am therefore really happy to be able to say that finally Street Fighter V is a must have title for fans of the series at last thanks to the Arcade Edition. The improvements and balance updates are most welcome and the new presentation style has brought it kicking and screaming in line with more recent fighting games. The roster is massive and new secondary V Triggers adds a welcome spin to each fighter and extra choice is always a good thing to have. But more than anything else, Street Fighter V is finally fun for me to play now I can sink my teeth into the arcade mode to help fine tune my use and knowledge of the fighters plus it is just a nice bit of nostalgic fun the original version was sorely lacking.

With so many fighting games now out there, this is the best time to really get involved in them and up till this point, Street Fighter V would be the least likely to get a recommendation from me but with Arcade Edition righting so many wrongs and adding so much to the original game, it really is a fun fighting game and just puts Street Fighter back on track as a series after losing its way due to crazy decisions made the higher ups which just now feels as though common sense thinking has thankfully returned to the planning of this series going forward. I am really enjoying my time with this game and whilst the online side is still very much a place for the hardcore over the casual player, it has so many features now to give a much more complete experience that it is a shame it took nearly two years to get it!