Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls
PS4 version tested.
It’s been a little while since Street Fighter V launched to, err, indifference? Well, it’s hard to exactly quantify the reception SFV garnered on release – reviews often praised it as one of the most well balanced and approachable fighting games for years, but server issues and a perceived lack of content stunted any launch day hype. Fast forward a few months and we finally have Shadows Fall, the “cinematic story mode expansion” that Capcom have promised us for months. Now that it’s here, is SFV the complete package? Well… Mostly?
First thing first, to be clear: I loved SFV on launch, and still do. For local multiplayer and online (when the servers are working) I adore it – it’s a treat that helps me unwind on weekends, unless I go down a rank. But I’ll be one of the first to say it needs more. As SFV stood at launch, and as it still stands, it lacks a variety of what are perceived to be basic features. Can you play a best of three match with a CPU? No. There’s no way to do that. There’s a Survival mode, where health doesn’t recover between matches without power-ups, and a Challenge mode, released after launch to help players with their combo potential. Despite that, there’s no simple way to just jump in and start battering the computer – the only way to do so is in Training mode, which is still absurd.
So, that’s the caveats and faults of the game out of the way, what does Shadows Fall bring to the table? Roughly, three hours of animated cutscenes and the odd fight in between them. Shadaloo is plotting something, M. Bison is being dastardly, Balrog has returned to the fight, Rashid of the Turbulent Wind is getting up in people’s business and all the other World Warriors are getting dragged into the chaos.
There’s a few things I adore about Shadows Fall. First and foremost, it’s the interaction between the characters – often alluded to or hinted at in the character’s individual (and incredibly short) story modes, Shadows Fall fleshes out the relationships you roughly see being built. Ibuki is hanging out with Karin, which makes sense since they’re both mutual pals of Sakura, Birdie is there too, since he’ll happily work for food, and Karin Kanzuki is mobilizing her forces and friends against Shadaloo’s plans. The personalities of the characters are brought to the forefront, and the few words that they do say in battle finally make more sense.
It’s when the characters try to express any form of conflict that it all seems to fall apart. Even when Cammy suffers a mild internal struggle, there seems to be no real emotion in either the voices or the faces. It’s difficult to get invested in what’s at stake when the characters acting it out don’t actually seem that bothered – even when Rashid realizes his friend has been killed, his reaction isn’t actually all that pained.
The acting could be better, then, but honestly few people would be able to argue with the amount of content that’s here. Sure, it is essentially three hours of cutscenes – which are fairly entertaining, at the very least – padded out with often very simple, single-round fights where you are automatically put in control of whomever is supposed to win according to the story. It’s not bad, but it’s very… Token. This is new ground for Street Fighter, and you can tell. Story threads, like Necalli’s entire existence, seem to be dropped or just brushed to the side in hopes the player will forget all about it, and a fair few others do exactly the same.
Shadows Fall is a lovely addition to the bulky Street Fighter V package, one that fans will heartily enjoy, but there’s no reason to go back, nothing that’ll make this stick in the minds of players, and most importantly, it’s still not a damn Arcade Mode. It’s not bad, it’s welcome, but honestly there were bigger complaints with the game that Capcom could’ve spent the time tackling. On the plus side, Shadows Fall gives a nice sneak-peek of upcoming characters Juri and Urien – and they look pretty damn cool.
At least it’s free, right?
Should you play it? If you already own Street Fighter V, absolutely. Should it convince you to buy Street Fighter V? Err... No.
- Loads of great cinematics
- Character personalities are entertaining
- Not very well acted
- Not a great story
- Not an Arcade Mode