Street Fighter 6 Review: A Series That Continues To Pack A Punch
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Featured Image Credit: Capcom
Capcom’s iconic fighting series came into the gaming scene with a relatively unknown arcade game, the OG Street Fighter in 1987. To be honest, in the late 80s, one-on-one fighters were not the talk of the arcade crowd with the likes of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Outrun, and TMNT being the firm favourites to gobble up our coins.
However, when Street Fighter II burst onto the arcade scene in 1991, it changed the genre forever inspiring other classic fighters including Mortal Kombat, The King of Fighters, Tekken, SoulCalibur, Marvel vs. Capcom and so much more.
Yet, you’d think after 36 long years, this series would grow stale. Think again, because the Street Fighter series is back with a bang, and unlike 2016’s SFV, the latest entry in the series is not only multiplatform across PC, PlayStation and Xbox, but it’s also crossplay too. What an age we live in!
It would be easy for me to say that Street Fighter 6 is the best in the series and technically, with modern-day technology and decades of experience behind the developers at Capcom, I could probably say it's true. But, with so many entries, each meaning something special to the individual fan, I find it practically impossible to pick out a firm favourite. What I will say is, Street Fighter 6 is a firm challenger for the modern fighter crown and if you love this series, then you’re in for a treat.
Powered by Capcom’s in-house RE Engine, the same software that powers the recent Resident Evil titles, Street Fighter 6 is a looker and dare I say it, the best-looking game in the series yet. Character models are brought to life in a lavish cartoon style that improves upon its predecessor, but this time, we get a glorious splash of vibrant rainbow paint that lets the players know that they’ve just pulled off an epic power move to lay out their opponents in style.
Speaking of visuals, playing on new-gen consoles, Street Fighter 6 gives the player the choice of two modes, one that favours resolution and the other that favours performance. I’m not often one that says I always prefer resolution over visuals, as it varies from game to game. That being said, with a game as fast-paced and high-octane as this one, I’ll be picking performance every day of the week, and twice on a Sunday.
Speaking of choice, perhaps the biggest addition to Street Fighter 6, at least when it comes to gameplay, is the three control schemes. Players can choose the Classic 6-button layout that seasoned veterans will be accustomed to. Then we have two new options. Modern controls allow the player to pull off special moves without having to remember lengthy quick-prompted combos, though it still retains a little of that. Finally, Dynamic can unleash special moves with a single press of a button.
I can see why some players might frown upon the two new control schemes, especially with the Dynamic option. But what I will say, is that these options can extend to more than just an assumed skill level. Accessibility in video games is always important and there could be a multitude of reasons why some players would pick a certain control scheme. At the end of the day, the traditional choice is still here, but now there are a couple more options should a player require them, whatever their reason might be.
Adding to the accessibility of Street Fighter 6, there are even audio cues that give an indication of how far away you are from an opponent, how high an attack is and how much of your Drive Gauge (the metre that powers special moves) remains. Capcom has gone above and beyond what this genre is used to, which is a major bonus for so many fans.
What’s more, Street Fighter 6 also has a returning training mode as well as comprehensive character guides so that you can get to know your favourite character a little more or see what a new favourite is all about.
At its core, this series is often about bragging rights and kicking ass. That emphasis still remains so, but Street Fighter 6 has plenty of modes that will keep fans busy for months if not years to come. The more traditional modes of the game can be found in ‘Fighting Grounds’. Here you have the traditional Arcade mode with an added story for any of the 18 playable characters (six of which are new) at launch as well as Versus (including Team Battle), Online, Practice and Special Match.
The Special Match feature caught my eye in particular because this allows you to have a break from the norm and choose a variety of wacky stipulations such as the first player to get a set amount of knockdowns wins, a back-and-forth seesaw mode with bulls, bombs and more invading the match. I can see plenty of fun to be had especially with the Special Match types when playing couch Vs with friends.
We also have the addition of play-by-play commentators for both English and Japanese languages, a first for the series. The commentary works surprisingly well and does a great job at calling the action, very esports-esque. They include Capcom Pro Tour commentators, Steve “TastySteve” Scott, Jeremy “Vicious” Lopez, James “jchensor” Chen and even Thea Trinidad aka Zelina Vega from WWE to name but a few.
The other two major additions to SF6 are Battle Hub and World Tour. Firstly, Battle Hub, as the name suggests, is a Hub in which the online community come together to make new friends, show off their custom avatar (more on that later), have some fisty cuffs, enter tournaments and even play some classic Capcom games including Final Fight and of course, Street Fighter II. More games are said to arrive on a rotational basis at a later date. I suppose you could think of the Battle Hub as Capcom’s version of PlayStation Home for the PS3 era.
Next up we have World Tour, which is Street Fighter 6’s story mode. Before you begin this story, you will be prompted to create your own avatar which will only be used in World Tour but also taken into the Battle Hub. The character creation is surprisingly deep, providing the tools for realistic or outlandish creations.
It’s finally great to have a creation suite in a mainline Street Fighter game. You can not only create your own unique look, but as you progress in the story, you will be able to mix up your fighting style inspired by iconic characters of the series as you meet them throughout the campaign.
Furthermore, as you progress in World Tour, you’ll be able to unlock new skills and abilities inspired by the RPG genre, something that I did not expect in this series, but it’s a welcomed surprise nonetheless. World Tour also has you explore an open map filled with varied locations, NPCs to challenge, iconic characters to form bonds with, shops to purchase new accessories and of course, to enjoy its somewhat simplistic story.
I really enjoyed the cinematic presentation of Street Fighter V’s story campaign (as late as its arrival was). Sadly, the World Tour isn't all that cinematic, yet it’s still a fun component and shouldn't be ignored. I would say that as much as I’ve been enjoying World Tour, I soon grew tired of constant NPCs challenging me to fight throughout its maps every minute or so. Albeit, a nitpick.
In some ways, the constant barrage of NPC brawls reminds me of the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series, just a little more annoying. At least Cacom is trying something new with the Street Fighter series, so I’ll give credit where it’s due. However, let’s face it, as much as I appreciate a story mode, it’s probably not the core reason why most players are here. Still, much like the accessibility features, it’s nice to have options and variety. Oh, and the World Tour takes place in Metro City, something that fans of Final Fight will appreciate.
To conclude, for whatever reason you pick up this game, you won’t be disappointed. Powered by the RE Engine, Street Fighter 6 not only looks better than ever, but it arguably plays better too and it's most certainly the most accessible. Whether you’re a newbie or veteran of the series, Street Fighter 6 is vibrant, packs a mean punch and not for the first time, reminds us why this franchise has remained relevant for decades, with no signs of tapping out just yet. Your move Mortal Kombat 1!
Pros: Expands on the pick-up-and-play formula with a wealth of accessibility features, looks gorgeous and is packed with modes to keep you busy for months, maybe years to come.
Cons: While fun, World Tour lacks some cinematic pazazz.
For fans of: fighting games
Street Fighter 6 releases for PC, PlayStation 5 (version tested), PlayStation 4 and Xbox Series X|S on 2 June 2023. Review code provided by Capcom. Read a guide to our review scores here.