Street Fighter 6 Review - The Master Returns
From Capcoms perspective, there seemed to be a lot riding on this game and its expectations. There is a lot of reasons behind this, first and foremost they clearly didn’t want a repeat of their disastrous release that was Street Fighter (SF) 5. With its lack of content, questionable design decisions and abysmal netcode, the game wasn’t warmly received by gamers on the whole. Adding to this stress was when the SFV season was extended for another year as SF6 needed more development time due to the earlier builds not resonating well with playtesters.
Since then, we’ve seen a transition in regards to the development team behind the SF brand, where it was a case of out with the old and in with the new, in an attempt to reinvigorate SF as the number one fighting game brand of all time! This all feels like a lifetime ago, but huzzah to the fighting game God’s, SF6 is finally here, now to see if it was worth the wait!
It's So Shiny
It fills me with great pleasure to inform you all, that Street Fighter has never looked as good as it has right here, right now! Every character, both old and new, looks incredibly detailed. From their facial expressions to their fluid movement in the battle arena, there’s clearly been an immense amount of work put in to bring this new title into the modern era looking as magnificent as it can. Capcom has re-done a lot of the returning cast (Ryu, Guile, etc) and given them completely new looks, enough that they’ve kept what makes them “them” but modernised and boosted their individual style, personality, and characteristics. I mean Guile even has ACTUAL eyebrows now.
The stages have an incredible amount of detail going on now. This is obviously more noticeable when you’re watching other players battle it out, sometimes to the degree that you’re looking at the stage instead of the players themselves. Which, let’s be honest, is the player’s fault for being boring and totally not anything else. But each stage looks truly magnificent with a bunch of stuff going on in both the fore and background.
It seems that Capcom went for the trifecta here with the game’s music/sound boasting a cacophony of upbeat and catchy music. Every character has their own melody and like the characters themselves, they’re all very distinct and make a really good fit for each character’s personality (a personal favourite of mine being Zangief’s). Individually, all these things are good to have, but you add them all together and the result is something extremely special and shows the care to detail that the developers have put into this game, resulting in a wonderful overall experience.
A Modern Game for the Modern Gamer
Learning from their past errors, a lot of content is available from the get-go on its day one release. There are a number of training modes with character-specific combo guides or introductions, matches with modifiers, arcade/story mode, lobbies, friend lists, and that’s just the fighting ground! The battle hub is a place for you to create your own avatar, hit up a server and watch some games or sit down at an arcade cab and play some casuals with whoever wants to come and sit down with you. Probably the best aspect of their online features though is the fantastic netcode! SF6 honestly feels like the best fighting game netcode of all time, a new bar has been set as games online feel smooth and responsive making online matches very enjoyable!
The big single-player content drop here though is the World Tour mode. Creating your own character and working security on the streets under everyone’s loveable himbo Luke. Here you’ll find yourself battling gangs who wear boxes on their heads and Skynet-controlled Rumbas … or something. Look, it’s every bit as silly as it sounds and that’s not a bad thing, it’s not something you’re meant to take seriously, it’s fun, but nothing amazing. One of the attractions is the ability to unlock the character’s original/alternate skins, so you at least have that incentive to try it out. For a more detailed look into this, Player2’s very own Editor in Chief has done a piece on this already, so for a deeper dive go give it a look here:
You're Driving Me Crazy
The universal system in SF6 is all based on your drive gauge. At the start of every round both players have six bars and using a variety of Drive Impact, Rush, Parry, etc will utilise it. Some things use more than others, for example, cancelling a normal with drive rush will chew through 3 bars, they can be replenished over the course of the match but blocking or playing defensively will halt that progress.
This drive system gives the player a lot of freedom to play the game how they want to play. Going all out with cancels and being aggressive or using it sparingly and playing the long game. There is a penalty for using all your gauge though as your character will go into a burnout state for a length of time. Here you can take chip damage or get dizzied in the corner if your opponent lands a drive impact there. The worst part though is that you can’t use any of the drive gauge functions until you’ve recovered, needless to say, you are quite vulnerable during this time.
The only mild criticism that is readily apparent though is the perfect parry. To successfully perform this, you’ll need to parry an opponent’s attack within (what seems) 1-2 frames, it’s very tight. When successful, there will be a pause and you’ll be able to get some free hits in. What kind of sucks though (technical term there), is the damage scaling is really dialled up, making the punish hardly seem worth it at times. Considering the degree of strict timing to land this parry, I feel the scaling shouldn’t be so harsh, but oh well, damage is damage, I guess.
It should also be noted that there are multiple control schemes, one being the classic six-button configuration that has been a staple for decades, but the other two are there and designed for people who aren’t familiar with fighting game inputs. These replace buttons and movements with simple inputs so you can pull off fireballs or dragon punches all day with a direction and button. To test this, I took my child through the tutorial on how to use it and he was immediately having fun smashing the AI and playing against me! Neither of these modes will give you the skill ceiling for what the classic configuration is, as it removes many normal attacks and what have you, but to introduce people to fighting games when they’re just starting out, it’s a great addition.
Sports But With an ‘E’
With Capcoms 1 million dollar prize for the person who wins the next Capcom Cup, it goes without saying, the eSport scene is already in full swing with this title! Having had the opportunity to attend both local and interstate tournaments, it’s been a great opportunity to see how the game is shaping up in this aspect.
It’s refreshing to see how fair and balanced the new systems appear to be, at least in the early meta. Countering a drive impact with your own, very rarely, seems like luck. It’s usually a case of the player going “Ah yeah, you got me, fair enough” then waiting for the punish as they contemplate their mistakes in life. In light of that the mind game aspect has been very fun to watch in real-time as some players are really getting into their opponents’ heads and forcing them to make mistakes.
Seeing that this game is very new, any mention of meta, tier lists or character balance should be taken with a bucket of salt, preferably from your opponent’s tears. There are clearly some stand-out, strong characters such as JP, Cammy, Dee Jay and Juri, but there will always be characters that stand out early, only to be dropped later as players get more familiar with the game and figure out how to best approach the matchup. Except for JP, that guy is broken and I hate him.
Already we’re seeing top players have a wide variety in terms of their mains, it’s wonderful to see as variety is the spice of life and makes for more exciting tournaments! The future is bright for the FGC and this title.
Best of the Best
SF6 feels like a love letter to SF fans, it really does. It’s hard to think of what isn’t here, every character seems to have every move and ability that they’ve ever had in any previous iteration of this series. Capcom has given out all the tools and told us to do with it as we will.
Street Fighter 6 honestly feels like the best game of the series in every facet possible. The long term will prove or disprove this though as these games tend to morph and change over their lifetime. But for this game to take that title, it’s done everything right from the outset to cement its legacy as the best of the best. This game is a recommendation for people interested in fighting games at any level, go check it out now.
Street Fighter 6 was reviewed on the PS5 with code kindly supplied by Capcom.