When Street Fighter V was released in 2016, it didn’t really have the impact Capcom had hoped it would. After the phenomenally successful Street Fighter IV – commonly cited as helping revive the 2D fighting genre – Capcom’s focus this time seemed to be off-balance. While a deep and enjoyable fighting game, it was a little too shallow for the competitive scene, but a little too daunting for newcomers. That it was built as an evolving seasonal platform likely didn’t help with those not entrenched in the fighting game community.

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It’s probably a good thing then that Street Fighter V stuck to its platform guns, because over the years it has seen additions, tweaks and changes that have grown it from a fighting game that’s light on content to one that’s bursting at the seams. At launch, Street Fighter V had a paltry 16 characters; a mix of old standbys and new faces. Through its seasonal updates, that roster expanded to a robust 38 brawlers, and today’s Champion Edition update brings the total up to 40. Street Fighter V: Champion Edition brings back two bosses from previous games: Street Fighter III’s half red and half blue rubber sack full of walnuts Gil and Street Fighter IV’s annoying Seth, an Artificial Intelligence that inhabits a synthetic body. This time, the AI is inside a female body, but if that’s too jarring for you, there’s a legacy skin that puts Seth back in a male form.

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Of course, Champion Edition brings through all of the gameplay changes, tweaks, balance changes, nerfs and buffs that have been injected into the game over the last half a decade, but it also makes an appreciable difference that’ll change the meta for the next while. Where Arcade Edition added a secondary V-Trigger to each character, Champion Edition adds another V-Skill. Some of them provide a temporary boost to existing moves, while others add entirely new moves to a fighter’s repertoire. That means a few more choices before a match that’ll dictate the sorts of combos players will be able to chain, and what sort of offensive and defensive options are added to each characters arsenal. In effect, it adds a bit more variety (and a higher skill ceiling) to a game that’s already overflowing with variety. There are of course new tweaks and balance changes that’ll shake the game up – like Ryu being able to anti-air Shoryuken and cancel into his critical art, as he could in Street Fighter IV. It’s a small, simple change that could see the face of Street Fighter become viable again in a scene that has largely shunned him.

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There are also changes to health and stun parameters and a plethora of other character tweaks that’ll shake up the professional scene. Street Fighter V has always been a game that favoured rushdown characters, and that doesn’t really change here. Pokes, footsies and zoning are still not just viable, but necessary. Somebody skilled at getting in your face and delivering a beat down is going to be at an advantage. Hopefully some of the changes help address that a little, and we’ll see a few less Rashids in competition.

Of course, none of that stuff matters to people who just want to pick up a fighting game and play it for a bit, assured that they have enough content to keep them happy if they don’t have anybody close by to pummel and don’t want to venture online. The full story mode added to Street Fighter V is included here, and each of the 40 characters has their own simple, arcade story to play through. There’s also a fun arcade mode that blazes through each of Street Fighter’s main eras, splitting them up into the requisite games. If there’s any single mode I’d recommend for casual players it’s the character challenges, which will have you learning new skills and combos for each member of the roster. They’re tough, teaching more advanced combos and links, but they can easily suck up hundreds of hours, and they’re worth doing, repeatedly, until they become part of your muscle memory. Unfortunately, Street Fighter V still doesn’t do a good job of teaching the basics, at all. Capcom actually has that sort of stuff on an external website, and it would have been nice to have this included in the game.

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The game’s oft-derided rollback netcode has also not been fixed, despite evidence that a simple tweak could solve many of the issues players have had with the game’s online. For many, the netcode isn’t an issue, especially for those of us in South Africa who have to play with people in relative proximity – just as we have to do in just about every fighting game. Play with friends in the same country and you’ll have a great experience. Try playing with somebody on a different continent, and it all falls apart. Thankfully, there are filters to prevent that from happening, and there’s enough of a Street Fighter scene in South Africa to keep the game viable.

If I do have a major complaint, it’s that the main loading screen takes far too long to proceed from start up to being able to play. There’s also still a tiny bit too much input lag on PS4, which perhaps makes the PC version a better bet.

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Very nearly everything that’s been released for Street Fighter V in the last four years  is part of the Champion Edition upgrade. That’s 40 characters, 34 stages and over 200 costumes included in the package. The only stuff that’s not included is limited event costumes from sponsorships and the Capcom Pro Tour DLC. Beyond that, it’s all included in the Champion Edition, which is available as an upgrade to Street Fighter V’s Arcade Edition released in 2018, itself an upgrade to the original game. Even this release, as a standalone, clocks in at half the price of a new game. It makes Street Fighter V: Champion Edition a compelling purchase for fighting game fans who’ve maybe held out on Street Fighter V, or haven’t given it a second look since its original release. It’s also worth a look if you’ve grown a bit tired of how largely stagnant Mortal Kombat 11 has become. This is the game Street Fighter V was always meant to be.

Last Updated: February 14, 2020

Street Fighter V: Champion Edition
Very nearly everything that’s been released for Street Fighter V in the last four years is part of the Champion Edition upgrade. That’s 40 characters, 34 stages and over 200 costumes included in a bargain-priced package. With the massive roster and the addition of secondary V-skills adding even more variety, this is the game Street Fighter V was always meant to be.
8.5
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition was reviewed on PlayStation 4
85 / 100

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