Reviewed on Playstation 5
Never has the Fighting Game Community been this excited for a Street Fighter release as they are for the upcoming SF6, largely due to the use of Capcom’s near-perfect RE Engine, the introduction of three new combat mechanics, the infusion of modernity in terms of the narrative style and gameplay tweaks, the extreme confidence in doing multiple open beta’s wells before release – Capcom seem pretty confident they have nailed it.
Before diving into the technically sophisticated yet easy-to-understand world of drive impact/parry/rush combat mechanics introduced, let’s set the tone for what expectations are set for Capcom’s most celebrated fighting game ever!
The last iteration, Street Fighter V was a broken mess at launch, to say the least. The game was released incomplete with issues from the game crashing to there being a paywall to buying characters, to the almost unimaginable reality of not even having an Arcade Mode at launch; SFV was a frustrating package.
While it was technically sound from a gameplay perspective, when coupled with the fact it looked more like a GaaS (Games as a Service) title over a fighting game from Capcom, tied into exclusivity to PlayStation and PC on launch, it just did not help it gain the momentum it needed to herald itself as the best in its class.
Bring onto 2023 and it is abundantly clear Capcom has learned from its mistake with SFV as this time, Street Fighter 6 will launch with a lot of content in this new outing. It comes not only with Arcade mode but three huge modes that should revolutionise Street Fighter games forever.
Before diving into the nitty gritty and details on what the game offers, let me joyfully make you aware after 20+ hours into the game that SF6 is beyond any doubt, aesthetically, technically, story and character-wise a loud, colourful, over the top MODERN Game. To explain this phenomenon, anyone who has tried the closed or open beta must have noticed the dialogue being quite hip, casual and Gen Z vibe-ish ( ohh the lingo).
What this means is that you will feel, whether as a newbie or veteran, that this game does not always take itself seriously, be it with the back-and-forth banter between your avatar and a master ( Luke especially) or people you meet on the streets, everyone is in this funk or being pretty ‘Rad’ & ‘Cool’ and while this may at times feel slightly out of place, it is the heart of SF6.
The game still pays respect duly to its past whether it’s the mention of our fighter’s older rivals to family members of the mad gear city gang and Haggar as the mayor of Metro City, SF6 knows where it has come from although it is a big shift in adopting the new age lingo and references, hopefully, this does not put off gamers who might find the game being slightly more skewed towards the ‘left politically’ if one were to point it out.
The first mode is the biggest revolution to a Street Fighter game in its history. The open and closed beta gave us a glimpse of this open world which allows replayability and immersion not seen before in a Street Fighter Game.
At first glance, it looks like the Yakuza or GTA open-world series with multiple missions and sub-missions, the ability to talk with various NPC’s and accept missions while also being able to initiate a fight by pressing the square button or straight up upper-cutting them while they stroll in their blissful existence to start a fight with an advantage.
The World Tour mode is designed as a way for the player to create their avatar, and train under various masters ( Luke, Ryu, Ken and more) to not only acquire moves from them that can be equipped in their avatar’s arsenal but also to deepen the bond with said masters that unlocks more dialogue, the ability of said masters to come and help you in a fight and frivolous yet important aspects like gifting items to them so you can be called teachers number one pet; is that not the highest accolade one could ask for in a virtual world? The correct answer is always yes.
WT in the start can look overwhelming with its mini-map, a huge array of NPC’s who are also involved in other activities like juggling to fire breathing on the streets to protect citizens such as the Police, the sheer variety of NPCs is refreshing.
There is also a tips section within the options and missions tabs where your master who is Luke, in the beginning, will give you tasks to meet someone or do small favours and learn more moves. There is a map and status tab, an items tab, messages, and a camera tab for taking pictures of yourself, even selfies are allowed and there is the addition of filters such as pixelated to classic and of course more customization.
Customization allows you to change the appearance of how the UI of your in-game device looks like settings allow you to provide remote and shortcut settings such as cheering, applause or fist pumping when walking along or after greeting or defeating foes.
You can challenge people to fight in this mode and converse with the ones who have a text symbol on top of their heads. Fighting makes you stronger and rewards you by levelling up. You can get attacked randomly by so-called street denizens, some of them wearing ridiculous crates on their heads as part of a gang called Mad Gear, fans of Final Fight which is Capcom’s popular 90’s Beat Em-Up game will be happy to hear the mention of the gang and Haggar as the Mayor and how the city is now that this gang has been pushed back although their presence and meddling is still a nuisance.
Since we are indulging about how open world this mode is, the map also has fast travel and you can unlock them as you explore more which is an essential feature to have when exploration is the main focus. Players can also add up to 20 pins on locations that they would like to visit later.
To summarize World Tour, this mode will be the one where a lot of the character’s side stories are explored, and a lot of time is spent by players who want to appreciate Capcom’s foray into the open world. From ridiculous cut scenes of meeting a fellow fighter in a colosseum fighting a lion to an NPC dressed up as a Superhero standing on the rooftops dishing out advice whom we can defeat to a throwback from old characters from Mad Gear, this mode is a lot of fun that I strongly recommend. The possibility to customize your avatar while unlocking attributes and fine-tuning ‘them’ is without a doubt a whole new aspect to fighting games. It does remind me of Tekken Force mode and World Tour.
Summary of World Tour
A new, open-world, RPG-style mode in which you make a custom fighter, run around small areas of Metro City and other locations around the globe, and level up.
The sense of exploration that this mode has induced in me as a fighting game oldie is pleasantly shocking. I should not care for this traditionally, but here I am talking to every NPC I can, collecting Air tickets so I can fly out to different cities, gifting master’s expensive and ultra-rate gifts and so much more.
Fighting Ground is the essential bread and butter for SF6 as you would expect from a fighting game. Thankfully unlike SFV, this mode includes Arcade mode which is the quintessential story mode.
You have two options of either playing 5 stages or (Hidden For Spoiler), for this review and spoilers we will stick with 5; I can give you a hint that there are some awesome bonus stages which use a combination of strength, speed, technique to get past the stage and get a high score for the perfectionists.
The story of Each character is splashed in a beautiful comic book art style which is colourful and flamboyant but so short that I was sorely disappointed in Capcom, we could have used more storytelling in this mode.
In practice mode, most beginners and veterans should spend time in training, using tutorials, character guides and combo trials.
Character guides are an informational system which plays out a few basic moves for your chosen character, focusing on their specific play style, and character strengths. Dee Jay, for instance, has feints which keep his next move a guessing game for the opponent.
For instance, he could throw a projectile to apply pressure and maintain distance and as soon as the opponent jumps in, he gets smacked down with a rising heel kick thereby delivering a varied and hard-to-guess style. You as a player can go through all the different guides as small videos to learn what the chosen character is good at from range to offense/defence and then mix and match as per the character. This model is unique that you do not have to do a single move but observe and learn what the character is capable of and then change it up using your style mixed up with the character’s ability.
Combo Trials is a separate addition within Practice mode which breaks down combos from easy to intermediate to complex, all dependent on the user’s ability. To put it simply, you learn your character’s different combos using either modern or classic controls and master them so that in this hugely offensive-driven fighting game you have the opportunity.
They vary from beginner to intermediate even on modern controls, although classic controls I would say are harder to pull off the more advanced combos. After trying both controls, although my heart wants to stick with classic controls, I strongly suggest and recommend putting time into the modern controls as they can be rewarding and a great way to play SF6, an alternate style which is an essential part of the whole modern vibe and structure to this game.
Versus brings you the age-old classic one-on-one and also team battle which has been present in other fighting games such as Tekken in the past, a truly welcome addition which elevates the experience while trying out multiple characters.
A new twist which allows you to play either offline against a fellow human or CPU. You have options from first to get knocked out by an opponent and also sometimes a stage sweeping actual bull to being the first in doing specific actions be it move, to surviving while various effects can happen to you.
Battle Hub is an online area where players can expect to spend time doing a lot of activities mainly fighting but in an array of different ways and methods that adds to the pizzazz thereby enticing fans to stay within this world and its many offerings.
Classic Arcade Games
Hitting that nostalgia chord quite effectively is an array of classic games like Street Fighter 2, Final Fight, and Street Fighter II Turbo that are available as cabinets that you can go and play. There are options of free play with unlimited credit/tries or to stroke your competitive ego by chasing the high score access the leader boards. In my experience, I only had one disconnect when playing final fight, overall it is a robust system and also reminds one of how unforgiving older games used to be.
You can join up to 8 clubs in this mode, and the first three slots are available for free initially. The clubs give you uniforms, and you can create one too. Since there were not a lot of people this is sparse at the moment, although it holds a lot of potential.
Who wants vanilla when you can have tutti frutti – Introducing Extreme Battles You can play extreme battles like smash and grab where the first to reach the target score wins. Or gimmicks where you are to avoid getting shocked, down & out where the first to get five knockdowns wins and bull run where you must avoid the bull that stampedes through the stage.
The only condition for these extreme battle sub-modes is that you need to have an opponent. Luckily during the open beta, it was easy to find opponents making this a breeze. I can envision this will stay populated as there is so much to do in SF6 to keep players here locked into this ecosystem for a considerable time.
This will probably be a part of the game mostly revisited by serious players and veterans after having exhausted all other modes or a lot of new players might mess in this mode if the fighting does not click with them.
This is a welcome addition to SF6, a unique way to spend more time for fighting game enthusiasts, people who in the past may have wanted or complained about the lack of different modes to spend time in now can and knowing Capcom I am sure they will maintain this.
SF6 introduces an array of fighting modes such as classic, modern and an AI-based system. Modern controls are the most revolutionary and should appeal to newer players and could inject a whole new population of gamers who have in the past avoided fighting games or gone for the slightly easier games such as Mortal Kombat and Injustice due to their easier-to-get into mechanics.
The introduction of Drive Rush allows you to put pressure on your opponent and break their moves keeping the ante up in this offensive-focused modern Street Fighter iteration. Drive Parry allows you to parry moves and is harder to counter once properly pulled by your opponent, therefore, being superior and harder to execute, great advanced technique.
There is a third control type called Dynamic mode where you can unleash characters’ flashy moves with a single press of a button making it a great party mode or trying a lot of new characters without having to memorise their moves, great for parties I’ll mention again.
Gameplay would not be so seamless if I had encountered any hiccups and the most amazing aspect was finding out I was playing on resolution mode for the first 10 hours without any slowdown whatsoever, and only when I tried World Tour and reviewing notes from Capcom, did I turn on Performance mode. World Tour is the only mode I felt slowdowns when not on performance mode so do try it out and see for yourself, or you could be safe and stick to performance mode from the start for everything.
A huge step up from Street Fighter 5 and buttery smooth as you would expect Leon from Resident Evil’s headshot kills; all thanks to one of the best video game engines out there – RE Engine.
From character designs to the robust and massive player customization options to the hair physics, this game looks beautiful. Apart from Luke’s insane huge and stupendous Popeye Forearms, there should not be any complaints in the visuals department.
Stage locations, art design, how they move and are alive with NPCs in the background water moving, skylines, and environment all add to the cartoony, yet crisp looking feel this game is going for. The most impactful addition is the slow down and colour explosion that happens when a Drive Rush is activated, I swear by Vega’s beauty and Chun Li’s Kicks you feel the whole screen come alive.
On a 4K Screen and PS5, Street Fighter 6 is gorgeous and adds the slightly comic art, cell-shaded (to a degree) 3D brilliance everyone should experience. Also, during the endings in arcade mode, there are a couple of artworks created by various artists around the world unlocked one by one, a pretty neat addition which also pays homage to older Street Fighter games.
To keep it short and succinct, the audio is phenomenal in the sense it is elevating and pumps you up from the title screen and intro music to the in-game various tracks. As a Fighting game should include energetic bangers, this game rightfully delivers.
The addition of Commentary is another unique aspect, now while I enjoyed it; sometimes it was just too obvious and a bit repetitive. I enjoyed Taste Steve as he is your go-to “Hype Man” being a commentator for the Tekken World Tour and Dojo events too, but you have a nice mix of Japanese and other international WWE Superstars such as Zelina Vega.
Street Fighter 6 Review Verdict
Street Fighter 6 splashes onto the Fighting Gaming genre with much-needed innovation to present a total knockout package for its fan base or those curious to step onto the streets. It features a jam-packed 18-character launch roster with eight original street fighter characters, Four Returning and Six new characters.
The future looks good for this game as four new characters are promised to release from Rashid in the Summer of 2023, A.K.I in the Autumn of 2023, ED in the Winter of 2024 and Akuma in the Spring of 2024. There will be a $1 million grand prize at Capcom Cup X the largest in its history with a further prize pool of over $2 million for the Capcom Pro Tour.
History will remember SF6 thanks to its revolutionary vision and addition of so many different modes which has something for all, old and new. This is a must-recommend game for anyone remotely interested in Fighting Games, an absolute must-play!