Can you believe that the last mainline Street Fighter game was all the way back in 2016? Sure, Street Fighter V had numerous re-releases and an abundance of content added over the years, but it didn’t have the strongest of starts. Now we have a new contestant that makes the previous title look like a beta test: Street Fighter 6. Whilst far from being a professional fighting player, I’ve spent an immeasurable amount of hours with this franchise and could not wait to jump into the latest iteration after the demo left me wanting more. So, without any further ramblings, let’s take a look at Street Fighter 6!
Starting out, there are three game modes to choose from. World Tour is perhaps the standout mode, as it’s something completely brand new to the Street Fighter brand, allowing players to create their very own fighter and take them out into the streets of Metro City and beyond! Here, you’ll roam the semi-open maps to take on quests, fight random citizens (all of whom seem to be ready to throw down at a moment's notice), and go shopping to outfit your avatar with some fresh threads.
A special mention to the character creation suite, as for the series’ first foray into allowing players to completely construct their own customisable fighter, it’s hard to find much better than this. You can sculpt the perfect Adonis or make the most hideous being imaginable! I’m looking forward to jumping into online once the game fully launches to see what other insane creations players have concocted.
World Tour isn’t all about beating up pedestrians with a flashy (or freaky) looking avatar, as you’ll come across different Masters, such as Ken and Chun-Li, who will teach you their unique moves, allowing for complete customisation of your fighting style as well. There’s a slight RPG element here, too, with levelling up, equipment that affects your base stats, and a skill tree which unlocks things such as increased health or how many special moves you can equip. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it was a genuinely fun experience to watch my character grow stronger, and whilst the story is hardly a gripping tale, it’s certainly a step-up from what we usually see within the genre.
Next up is the Battle Hub, which is the main online mode. This is so much more than just a fancy way of saying “online lobbies”, as it’s essentially a social hub where you can spend just as much time interacting with other players outside of fights as you would engaging in one. You’ll use your created avatar to navigate the small free-roam space, using Battle Cabinets to step into an online match. Also featured is the Game Center, which allows players to jump into some classic Capcom arcade titles; this helps in winding down after a particularly devastating loss. At times, it felt like being in a real arcade, watching others perform outlandish combos you had no idea were possible, and it’s certainly a feature that I hope more fighting games implement in the future.
Finally, there’s Fighting Ground, which merges the usual core modes found in previous titles — such as Arcade, Versus, and Training — into its own separate system of menus. It’s the standard fare for fighting games: Arcade sees you taking on various opponents whilst the story of your selected fighter unfolds via static cutscenes between fights, the various training modes are essential for learning each of the 18 playable fighters’ combos, Versus allows you to duke it out with the CPU or a local player, and so on. A new addition to Street Fighter is Extreme Battle, which lets you mix things up with different rules and gimmicks (such as having a bull stampeding through the stage) to really give some variety to the standard fighting mechanics.
Just like practically every other game in the franchise, Street Fighter 6 has a gorgeous art style that is full of flashy, vibrant colours, and it really shines on current-gen hardware. Stunning visual effects will explode across the screen during special moves and Drive Impacts that make fights look like abstract art come to life.
It’s not all flashy moves and paint-drenched beatdowns, though, as the fighters are brimming with life; from the brash and cocky young Luke, to the debonair gentleman JP, each of the 18 characters exudes their own unique charm that’s superbly represented in their models and fighting styles. Smaller details, such as damage to clothing or cuts and bruises on the fighters themselves, make a well-earned victory feel that much sweeter!
The same goes for the stages and the areas in World Tour; every facet of the game is awash with colour, giving Street Fighter 6 a Saturday morning cartoon vibe to it all, which I feel works well in this over-the-top universe. From the dingy streets of London, to a Roman coliseum complete with a prowling lion, each stage has so much fine detail in the background, that players will need to be careful not to focus on it too much during a bout!
The music and general sound design do a great job of tying the aesthetic together; the chilled menu music that jumps right into some fast-tempo hip-hop as the action starts always fit the tone of whatever situation I was in. Kicks and punches have a satisfying crunch to them during combat, whilst special moves sound especially hard-hitting! We also have commentators for use in certain modes, which try to match how a professional competition might sound if you were watching live. Whilst each commentator sounds enthusiastic and puts the work in, it doesn’t take long before you begin to hear the same dialogue repeated.
There were a few technical issues, though, particularly when fighting in World Tour. Noticeable frame drops were the most prevalent, although switching from resolution mode to performance in the visual settings remedied this problem, and I found it ran at a smooth 60fps after making the switch. I did run into some clipping issues with certain clothing or a victorious opponent walking through a K.O’d character, but there was never anything game-ruining.
This time around, players will have a choice of three distinct control styles. The Classic type is the usual six-button scheme seen in other Street Fighter games, and works just as well as it always has. Dynamic gives gamers that are new to fighting games a chance to get to grips with the gameplay mechanics, as each button press will result in an attack relevant to the situation (such as performing a special defensive move as your opponent is about to unleash a Super Art). A happy medium of the two, the Modern type, was perhaps my favourite of the bunch. This not only simplifies special moves and Supers, but also reduces the light, medium, and heavy attacks down to one button each. No matter which one you choose, there are enough tutorials to help you on your way to mastering them all!
As for the moment-to-moment gameplay, you’ll spend most of your time facing off against an opponent on a 2D stage, and quite frankly, Street Fighter has never felt better. If you’ve ever played a fighting game, then you’ll know how the basics work. You’ll move towards or away from the opposition, with buttons for your standard light, medium, and heavy attacks, throw manoeuvres, aerial combos, special moves, and so on. Special moves can be triggered any time, although more powerful versions can be used at the cost of some of your Overdrive bar, which will refill over time. Also featured are Super Arts, which can be unleashed after a gauge has filled up to perform one of several stylish, heavy-damage dealing attacks. Do you unleash your least powerful one as soon as your gauge has filled up once, or keep going and wait for the ultimate attack? It adds a surprising amount of strategy, especially in online modes where opponents are much more unpredictable. There’s also the Drive Impact, which can be used at a moment's notice as both an offensive and defensive tool when timing it right. This adds even more layers to an already deep system, and a perfectly timed counter of my foe’s attack with a Drive Impact of my own always felt satisfying.
With such a well-rounded combat system, it’s basically impossible to find any faults. It may be the most accessible fighting game ever crafted; for example, my partner — someone who is not a fan of the genre — picked it up easily enough using the Dynamic control scheme, before switching up to the more versatile Modern input. That isn’t to say that total beginners would mop the floor with a top-tier player due to the amount of assistance the game gives, though, as mastering the game will certainly give you an edge both on and offline. But, with enough practice and time spent in the incredibly thorough tutorials and combo trials, it’s an easy enough system to learn.
In closing, Street Fighter 6 is nothing short of amazing. Whilst the roster isn’t as deep as it could have been (and we’re sure to see new and familiar faces as DLC down the line) and the minor graphical issues I came across were ever so slightly disappointing, this is a solid fighting game. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro esports player, or someone picking up a controller for the first time, there’s enough variety and fun to be had here regardless.
Street Fighter 6 (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
The most complete Street Fighter title to date, Street Fighter 6 is a must-play for fighting game fans, and one to consider even if you’re not familiar with the genre. An engaging, stylish beat ‘em up that could well be king of the mountain for years to come.