Review – Street Fighter 6
Believe it or not, I wasn’t exactly hyped during Street Fighter 6‘s pre-launch campaign. Although, I can possibly blame Street Fighter V for that. For the past eight years or so, that dud of a fighter (at least when it first came out) really bothered me. Meanwhile, it seemed like every other fighting franchise in the horizon, be it Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear, Tekken, and The King of Fighters, was upping their ante with bigger, content-packed sequels that made Street Fighter V‘s bare bones vanilla version look ridiculous in comparison. Sure, Capcom did fix the game eventually with updates and content, but the damage was done in my opinion.
But that was mid-2010’s Capcom. During that time, the company was unable to come up with a good business decision or idea for a good game. The current Capcom, on the other hand, feels like a company that simply cannot do wrong. Everything they have done in the past years was either good, great, perfect, or enough to shut up naysayers. So even though I wasn’t completely sold on Street Fighter 6 as a whole, I was still curious to giving it a go. And so I did, and was very pleased with the results. Is it the best Street Fighter of all time? Probably not, considering the fact that Alpha 3 exists. But damn, what a step up from some previous duds.
Street Fighter 6 is, in essence, two games in one. The first one is what you would expect, a proper new Street Fighter, with improved visuals, new control schemes, and new characters (as well as tons of missing ones). Characters do look less “plastic-y” than their Street Fighter V counterparts, though their body shapes looked bizarre as hell. Then again, this is Street Fighter, it’s par for the course. Some new characters were neat, while some other returning character redesigns felt off-putting, namely Blanka.
Everything in Street Fighter 6 feels more, uh, “urban”. Characters dress less like actual fighters and more like Adidas Originals models. Environments are less fantastic and global, being more focused on urban arenas (then again, I suppose it stays true to the franchise’s name). The entire game’s marketing artwork is heavily centered on graffiti, and a good chunk of the soundtrack is comprised of funk and rap. It was weird at first, I’m not gonna lie. Rap and Street Fighter do not particularly gel together, but the more I played the game, the more songs I ended up unlocking, with some of them being legitimate bangers.
The brand new control scheme was a source of controversy before launch, and I can say this controversy was pointless. It’s just a new option for newcomers, and that’s nothing new coming from Capcom. I grew up playing Capcom vs. SNK 2 on the GameCube, and that game also had a newbie control scheme, as well as a traditional six-button configuration. If you are one to focus solely on competitive play, you still have access to an equally responsive, fluid, and fast-paced control scheme you know and love. If you are a newbie, you can do Shinku-Hadoukens without the need of memorizing button combinations. Accessibility options are never a bad thing.
If this was all Street Fighter 6 had to offer, that would make it better than its predecessor, but not exactly a game changer for the genre. Sure, arcade modes with neat, well-voiced cutscenes are nice, and the online modes are as smooth as one would expect from a game running on the witchcraft-powered RE Engine, but as previously mentioned, that is just half of what this game has to offer. The real meat of the experience comes in the shape of a full-fledged, single-player campaign mode.
In the World Tour mode, you can create your own fighter with a mind-boggling character creator. You’ll become a pupil to one of the game’s new fighters, and you’ll be then told to basically roam around a city, looking for ways to improve your skills. At first, the plot is pointless, but things start improving the more you play. You are given a shocking amount of freedom to explore the mode’s many maps, in a gameplay loop that, by the end of the day, reminded me less of Street Fighter, and more of Yakuza. No, really.
Walk around the map, meet people, engage in small quests, upgrade skills, and then partake in brawls against enemies or people you can just invite for a little scuffle. It’s basically like pre-Like a Dragon Yakuza, with the difference that you are fighting against enemies on a 2D plane. As you progress through the story, you end up meeting more Street Fighter characters, who will start tutoring you. This is how you improve and customize your character, as you can inherit their moves and fighting styles, letting you create a beast of your own.
I loved this mode, and spent ungodly amounts of time turning my character into a god, but there are issues within it. First of all, your character creator is great at making REALISTIC fighters, who will almost always look like the outsiders in a heavily stylized game like Street Fighter 6. I know, sounds odd, but that’s exactly what ended up happening. The other issue, however, lies in the visuals.
Street Fighter 6 is a gorgeous game, but there is something odd about the quality of the visuals during the World Tour mode. I assume it’s an issue related to rendering a massive city in real-time, all while maintaining a smooth 60fps framerate. What ended up happening is a clear reduction in overall textural quality, particle effects, and post-processing. Even the anti-aliasing felt a bit weird, as in, non-existent, at least on this PC port. Let me clarify that the PC in question was way capable of running the game on better-than-recommended specs, so I assume it’s either a glitch that can be solved, or a compromise in order to ensure the game could still run smoothly.
I have another concern, and that’s related to Street Fighter 6‘s lasting appeal. No, I’m not talking about whether or not I’ll keep on playing the campaign mode for the foreseeable future, because I will. I’m talking about DLC prices, battle passes, microtransactions, and so on. Capcom has since improved over their Street Fighter V days, but initial impressions of their expansion ideas look costly and ridiculous. I hope they can rethink on their upcoming roadmap in order to capitalize on this game’s already roaring success, and not pull an Ed Boon in terms of microtransaction costs and DLC ideas.
At the end of the day, what matters is that Street Fighter 6 did manage to overcome a ton of odds. It might have an issue or two when it comes to the visual fidelity of its campaign mode, as well as some odd artistic decisions, but as a complete package, there’s little to complain about. It’s Capcom, yet again, delivering. Great controls, buttery smooth performance, and one of the best single-player campaigns ever put in a fighting game are but a few of the highlights in this roaring success of a title.
Buttery smooth, with some neat character designs, despite their bizarre body shapes. The campaign mode doesn’t feature the most detailed environments and characters, but the fact it’s even here to begin with is already impressive.
Whether you decide to play with Classic or Modern controls, Street Fighter 6 is fast, responsive, and a joy to play.
Decent (but unremarkable) voice acting, good sound effects, but an emphasis on a musical genre that just doesn’t gel with Street Fighter as a whole. It feels like it was a decision from the marketing department to “get down with the youths”, not a deliberate artistic decision.
The post-launch roadmap looks a bit crappy in its pricing, but there is more than enough content in the base game to make you want to ignore these overpriced character packs. It controls superbly well, and its single player campaign is addictive.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Street Fighter 6 is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB
A copy of Street Fighter 6 was provided by the publisher.