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Street Fighter 5 Review: Good Gameplay, Incomplete Game

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Street Fighter 5, Ryu

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Street Fighter 5 is the successor to the iteration of Street Fighter that basically revitalized the fighting game genre. Full disclosure: while I enjoyed watching SF4 later on in its life, I was never a SF4 player, and though I’ve played fighters competently since Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES, I am relatively new to the “hardcore” side of the genre.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. For my money, Street Fighter V is a very entertaining fighter, packaged in an unfortunately sub-optimal online experience and (at launch) nearly nonexistent single player content. But let’s start with what works.

Graphics

SFV is a beautiful game. While your mileage may vary on the actual art style (SF’s trademark gorilla hands and feet return), there is no denying that the game itself is pretty and its animations are silky smooth. The characters reel in different directions depending on which side the attacker’s roundhouse is coming from, and the animation of moves is as glorious as they are expected. Heck, even Karin’s outro is beautifully animated, and you can actually get a sense for these characters’ fighting styles and personalities just from looking at the way their attacks animate.

Karin is fluid and technically precise with a combination of hard and soft power, Ryu’s attacks are straightforward and economical with no excess energy spent; Zangief hulks around the screen and throws haymakers that you feel when they connect. In terms of animation, SFV nails the characters, and the stages aren’t too far behind. They aren’t as dynamic as something you’d find in, say, Killer Instinct, but they are all appealing in their own ways and are suitable battlegrounds for the combatants.

There’s certainly “wtf” elements in some of the stages (why is there a ninja in pink sneaking around the Kanzuki estate?), but that too is a staple of the series.

Sound

For my money, SFV might also be the best-sounding Street Fighter game ever. While not every tune is as catchy as Guile’s from Street Fighter 2, there are some really nice takes on Ryu and Ken’s tunes, as well as some really good new entries. Necalli’s theme in particular is ominous and foreboding in a good way — the man is a dangerous savage! — and stood out to me in a way that most Street Fighter music haven’t done over the years.

The rest of the sounds go much as you would expect — there’s the trademark shout of “Hadouken” as the shotos chuck plasma, the furious whooshing of air as Zangief leaps 40 feet in the air with a spinning pile driver, and the meaty sounds of normals and specials cracking into your opponent. The sounds for all of these are meaty and satisfying, and there’s actually a decent amount of audio cues to help you indicate what you’re being hit by. Hearing the crush counter chime and the brief mute of a V-Trigger cancel is going to be iconic and will lead to either elation or despair depending on which side of the particular exchange you’re on.
Character voices for the most part are good I think, although some of them (looking at you Laura) are equally annoying in both English and Japanese. Still, the option to choose language character by character is nice and welcomed feature.

Gameplay

Now for the bread and butter of any fighter, the gameplay. SFV is a fun game, and there’s not too many other ways to say it. At its best, it’s a chess match played out with punches and kicks and teleports and SPD’s. The fighting game triad of attack, block, and throw are present and essential, and the game can be merciless in punishing any failure to appropriately apply them. Crush counter combos can steal half a life bar or more if you get tagged by an opponent with the proper resources, and the combos, while easy, have a certain weight and meatiness to them that I find immensely satisfying. When you tag someone with a five or six hit combo in this game, you feel it not only because of the excellent animation quality and sound design, but also because those five or six hit combos do a lot of damage. A lot!

Ken vs Charlie, Street Fighter 5

The V-Trigger system adds a neat wrinkle to the otherwise fairly straightforward combat engine of the game, giving each character a unique skill or mechanic that serves to make them more dangerous in the neutral, and can also pull double duty as an effective potential comeback factor once the bar is full. The V system isn’t nearly as arbitrary as SF4’s Ultra mechanic (should’ve blocked – here’s half your health gone!) or as overwhelming as UMVC3’s X-Factor mechanic (lvl 3 Vergil to the rescue!), but smart application of it can and will save your bacon. All in all, it’s an intelligent system that gives you some recourse once the chips are down all the while requiring you to play smart.

And really, encouraging smart play is what SFV is about. You can certainly mash out DP’s on wakeup if you like (or the mash jab preferred by the online hordes), but in SFV you will get utterly destroyed for making these decisions rashly or at inopportune times. The crush counter system means there is a legitimate penalty for always pressing buttons on wakeup, and the fact that all DP’s and reversals are counter hits on landing (with no way to FADC them or otherwise make them safe) means that once you decide to wakeup shoryu, you are now wedded to that decision. Guess wrong, and you’re to going to have to eat this 40% punish and use that time to reevaluate your life choices. I love the system — it punishes mashing and ensures that smart and careful play is rewarded, while still providing options out of pressure should the need arise.

While the game isn’t particularly fast or frenetic and the pace is overall a bit slow for my tastes, this is pretty much on the tin for a Street Fighter game and no knock against it. You want hectic and chaotic neutral and a jillion things happening on screen, go play Marvel. You want hype and borderline unfair pressure options married to a continuous mind game, go play Killer Instinct. If you want methodical approaches, footsie based neutral and a truly iconic cast to play around with, then you should be playing Street Fighter V. My only knock against it might be that it can be boring when the opponent isn’t anywhere near your skill level, but fighters in general don’t tend to be much fun when wailing on newbies, so I can’t say it’s a huge demerit against the game.

The Bad…

First off, for a game with somewhere near 10 official and unofficial betas and stress tests before it launched, SFV released with an unbecoming and altogether annoying number of flaws with its online play. This review was actually delayed because the blasted game borderline did not work online at launch, and while Ranked and Casual searches now seem to function mostly okay (excepting strange 10-15 minute droughts where it just refuses to find a match), its Battle Lounges are still broken. One hour they’ll be working just fine and I can run a FT10 without issue — the next hour the whole system will crash and disconnect the instant I create or try to join a friend’s lounge.

Street Fighter 5, Laura choking Ryu

For a game with this much visibility and this much pre-release testing, the shoddy online experience has been hugely disappointing. I imagine these kinks will be worked out relatively quickly, but it’s still really annoying that these kinks couldn’t be worked out ahead of the game’s launch. When the matches do connect, the game’s online is very good and its cross-play between PC and PS4 works to perfection. However when it’s off, it’s really off, and because of the lack of single player content, don’t expect to get much enjoyment from the game when the servers are acting up. Which brings us to our next flaw…

Street Fighter V is almost inexcusably bare-boned in its single-player content. If you aren’t playing in Battle Lounges with random players or friends or testing your mettle in Ranked or Casual, you probably aren’t doing much. At present, there are only “Story”, Training, and Survival modes. Story mode is just a collection of three 1-round matches for each character, with painted cutscenes (see below) interspersed between each match. The problem with this is that the matches are wildly unrepresentative, with braindead AI opponents and a maxed V-Trigger and Critical Art to start out with. Remember, I can do 50-60% easy with most characters with those resources. Training is functional and useful (the record function is particularly well done), but the lack of frame or hitbox data is disappointing to me personally.

Street Fighter 5, Ryu story

Survival is really the only single player mode that you can spend an appreciable amount of time with, but while it has some cool wrinkles in the form of post-battle supplements, the fact that your costumes are gate-kept behind the various Survival challenges is super annoying for anyone who wants more than two colors for their character but doesn’t like Survival in general. And if you get to level 49 of Survival on hard and lose, well thanks for playing, but no new costumes or Fight Money or anything of value for you. Joke’s on you, sucker!

That leads into my final flaw of the game: Truly baffling user interface (UI) and progression decisions. The “Survival runs for costumes” for each character is bad, but I’d really like to meet the guy who thought “man, it’d be really cool if only Player 1 has the option to go to character select in Vs. mode!” I just don’t know when or why that would ever be good, but lo and behold SFV does it. In general, the UI is slick, but requires a lot of clicks (“effort” in UI terms) to get to things. Searching for replays is tedious and weirdly time consuming, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why key features for players are hidden behind fine print button presses and queues. It’s just a shame.

I’m sure a lot of these network bugs and UI things will be patched out, but it’s really just not cool that a full-priced AAA game released lacking content and having some of these kinds of issues.

Final Thoughts

Street Fighter V is a very good fighting game wrapped in what is a decidedly not-great launch. The game lacks content for those who aren’t super interested in getting online and grinding out against the hordes of the internet, and has some weird misses that make things like running tournaments a lot more difficult that should be. The online is also currently janky, which is a real problem for a game that’s missing any meaningful single-player content.

8

Great

That said, the actual presentation and application of the combat is very well executed, and there is no doubt I’ll be playing this game for months and years to come. Combat is pretty, deep, and truly exciting when fighting an opponent of similar skill. Launch hiccups aside, I think that Capcom really has designed a worthy successor to the game that restarted the fighting genre and rejuvenated the fighting game community.

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In Cyberpunk 2077, Lifepaths And Optional Companions Can Change Your Playthrough

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This is a game you will gladly play more than once.

CD Projekt has shed more light on Cyberpunk 2077, giving us a better idea of what players can expect from the single-player story.

The adventure by choosing between three different lifepaths for your custom character, each with a different starting location and story background that are strongly connected with the origin story for protagonist V. You can be a Nomad, Corpo or Street Kid.

Not only do the lifepaths define how Cyberpunk 2077 begins, but they also have dramatic consequences on specific missions. A Nomad, for example, will have more street smarts than a Corpo, but he might be out of his element in a board room, unable to properly lead a conversation.

When coming up with challenges, CD Projekt thought of how the different lifepaths could solve them as effectively as possible given their unique skill set. By delivering completely new experiences, the developer intends to give players plenty of motivation to play the game multiple times.

The class you choose also impacts how quests potentially play out.  Cyberpunk 2077’s fluid class system provided designers more opportunities to make quests even more nonlinear and develop new gameplay options that can change the story.

Finally, the game features optional companions that have their own motivations. Taking them along on certain quests can greatly change the outcome .

CD Projekt promises that each quest is handcrafted and has its own storyline, ranging from short skits to epic, multi-layered missions. There won’t be any fluff material like procedural missions.

By the look of things, expect to play through Cyberpunk 2077 at least three times. The game releases on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 16, 2020.

What are you most excited to experience?

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The Borderlands Games, And Handsome Jack

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The Borderland games helped define two generations of gaming.

Most gamers know about Borderlands in one way or the other, whether in passing or because of a strong desire to become the best gun collector,. You may play it for the story, you may like the characters, or you simply want to kill everything in sight in as many different ways as possible — no matter your compulsion, each of the three Borderlands games will give you a blast!

Now, what can we say that hasn’t been said already? Will you have fun with these games? Yes, absolutely, in fact, fun turns into a rather misleading word when it comes to this franchise in particular. Will you have freedom in this game? To an extent. Many story-driven games do not have such an open concept when it comes to gameplay compared to what Borderlands puts on the board.

This franchise offers plenty of aspects that help to create the feeling of freedom – from 4 playable heroes to millions of usable weapons, to how you approach the fight – and even with these in mind, Borderlands games cannot be regarded as an open-world release; and it’s for the better. The compact stories that go from title to title give a sense of roundness, and this feature is often lacking in the more open-ended titles.

Borderlands

Let us start at the beginning: Borderlands was released in 2009, almost a decade ago. And it still holds up! With the engaging story, hordes of enemies and the continuous race towards the prize, Borderlands carved out a place for itself in the hearts of many fans. There are at least two amazing, title-defining features in this one. First one is the art-style, exceptionally unique to Borderlands games.

Borderlands Vibe & Style

It might seem inconsequential at first gaze, but when most releases in the gaming industry try to polish their graphics, thus making them look as smooth as a movie scene. There’s something refreshing to see an echo of a comic-book style, accompanied by the whimsical details and outlines, all seemingly coming back to life right from your first glance. This original style became as much of a staple in Borderlands as the weapon system.

RNG Weapons 

And even the first Borderlands game had a fair share of weapons! This brings us to the next defining element of the series: random weapon generator. The famed and beloved feature has become the main talking point when it comes to Borderlands games; there’s nothing more bonding than gathering your friends, grabbing a cup of coffee, and comparing which one of you was the most blessed by the RNG gods!

The More – the harder

The first Borderlands also offer a solution to the players who beat the game but still want more. To put it simply, the game raises the difficulty with each playthrough; so if you thought you will get to mow down the enemy and laugh at how pathetic they are, you will instead get to mow them down and laugh at how they are no challenge to you even when almighty. Borderlands games engine boosts them even further! And this rise in difficulty is applied to the whole system in general – your quests and DLC content also climb the ladder the more you play – endless fun!

Borderlands 2

The second addition to the series also keeps much of the same charm – only now you add a concrete villain in the mix. So, each time you shoot at some cannon fodder, you can imagine that smug face, till finally, you can put a bullet – or a dozen – in it too! The number of playable characters increased as compared to the first instalment of Borderlands games, so you can freely adjust the gameplay to your style. The greatly beloved sense of exploration returns, as some of the missions in Borderlands 2 now have multiple ways it may be resolved. 

Weapons for Practicality

But the greatest change from the first is (once again) weapons system. While the randomness remains, there’s also the differentiation between the manufacturers of the guns. Depending on who made your weapon, its stats and features will be different. Thus, keeping a close eye on your loot and weighing your options is important here – or you can always just pick the biggest gun and see where that gets you!

Borderlands The Handsome Jack

Borderlands games also offer an extensive insight into the backstory of the villain from Borderlands 2, Jack. The game, wonderfully titled Pre-Sequel, follows him and his companions on their journey to become the tyrant… or gain vengeance of the evil Colonel, whichever comes first. The game employs many of the same systems as the second game in the series, but with a few minor additions. Basically, it’s a great continuous play when put together with Borderlands 2.

Borderlands 3

And this brings us to the latest instalment to the famed Borderlands games! Well, the following iteration is still in the works, but it still counts, probably even more. Borderlands 3 will feature 4 new playable characters, many of the previously known faces will return as NPCs (as is the tradition for the series by now), and the game boasts with the chance to travel outside of the enemy-infested Pandora as here, you’ll battle a horrendous cult and its leaders.

Genre-defining

The combat system has been adjusted in accordance with the previous games’ success and many of the previous issues will now give players ‘longer’ fighting chance as NPCs can revive them and vice versa. Also, weapons will have an alternate fire mode, so imagine the possibilities with this one! The newest from Borderlands games, also adds new vehicles, new environments, new goodies and a lot more. It’s quite a paradise for the shoot-and-loot genre fans, truly. So, just ask yourself this: what more could you expect from a genre-defining shooter series? Nothing but excellence.

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Cyberpunk 2077 Stars Keanu Reeves, Releases April 16, 2020

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It’s a pleasant surprise, to say the least. Are your surprised?

CD Projekt Red used E3 2019 to release a new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer that reveals Keanu Reeves as the main star.

Not only that, but the big-name Hollywood actor also stepped onto the stage after the trailer was shown to announce the long-awaited RPG ‘s release date.

Isn’t he such a wonderful man? Watch the trailer and let us know what you think…

Cyberpunk 2077 comes out on April 16, 2019. Are you happy to see Keanu Reeves as the main star?

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Check Out The New Doom Eternal Trailer

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As expected, Doom Eternal looks crazy intense.

E3 2019 brought us two major videos of Doom Eternal — an official story trailer and some gameplay footage.

The story trailer (above) revels in the game’s weird and intense biblical imagery, while the gameplay footage (below) shows off its intense gameplay, flashy UI and wide array of collectibles.

A new multiplayer mode called Battlemode pits two player-controlled demons against a single player-controlled Slayer to see who’s the last one standing.

Bethesda also announced a big special edition of Doom Eternal that come with a wearable Slayer helmet and story DLC.


By the look of things, fans of Doom are in for more of what the love about the series. Doom Eternal releases on PC, Xbox One, Switch and PS4 on November 22, 2019.

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Meet Cal The Fugitive In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Reveal Trailer

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Cal holding his lightsaber in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
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Are you ready for the next big Star Wars Game?

Respawn Entertainment has finally revealed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and plans to have it ready by November 2019.

The reveal trailer is rendered in-engine and focuses on the story.
“Trust No One” is the overarching theme.

Like the The Force Unleashed, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an action-melee game that takes place after Order 66. You play as Cal, a fugitive a lightsaber -wielding, Force-endowed Padawan on the run from the Empire.

Respawn stresses that combat is an integral part of the experience. Each enemy will have a unique fighting style, requiring you to approach them differently and identify and exploit their weaknesses.

You’ll will have Cal’s Force Powers and various melee combinations at your disposal, as well as traversal and other platforming abilities to overcome enemies and solve puzzles.

In addition to the main character, we get to see his best-friend, a droid called BD-1; a mysterious companion by the name of Cere; and Second Sister, one of the Empire’s elite Inquisitors pursuing you.

Your adventure begins on Bracca, one of the brand-new Star Wars planet introduced in the game, where you will encounter droids, a number of familiar faces, various Trooper types and a slew of other interesting characters.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order launches on November 15 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Pre-ordering it will get you “unique cosmetic content” for your lightsaber and droid companion.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Cal holding a Lightsaber
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Second Sister with Purge Troopers
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Does The Next Assassin’s Creed Take Place In The Viking Age?

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Red-bearded Viking in Ubisoft's For Honor gam
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An Easter Egg may hint at a new Norse setting for the next Assassin’s Creed game.

An Easter egg uncovered by wiki user AlifMorrisonudin in The Divsion 2 could point to the Assassin’s Creed series moving from Norse mythology to the Viking age.

AlifMorrisonudin found a poster that depicts a Norse god wearing the Assassin’s Creed colors of red and white and holding an Apple of Eden artifact, another hallmark of the franchise.

Ubisoft has a long history of stuffing Easter eggs into its games that either allude to or even reveal upcoming releases. A Watch Dog 2 mission, for instance, unveiled new sci-fi game Pioneer to players.

What’s interesting is that the tease in The Division 2 is both subtle and in plain sight. There are multiple copies of the poster (some very large) scattered throughout particular parts of the game, yet who would have thought to look for the Apple of Eden in it?

Have a look at the poster in question, and let us know if it is indeed a revelation of a Viking setting for Assassin’s Creed or if we are overreaching…

Poster in The Divsion 2 -- Viking Age Assassin's Creed game
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The Assassin’s Creed series was rumored to be code-named Legion and set in ancient Rome at around 169 AD, particularly near the end of Marcus Aurelius’ reign. However, more recent reports claim it’ss code-named Kingdom and does indeed star Vikings. 

Either way, Ubisoft hasn’t officially confirmed anything other than the fact that the next Assassin’s Creed will be released in 2020, so while the poster could be a hint of what’s to come, it could also be nothing more than a mere Assassin’s Creed Easter egg.

Where do you want the next Assassin’s Creed to take place — Ancient Rome or the Viking Age? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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