What a great time to be a fighting game fan. The current GOATs of the scene (Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Mortal Kombat 11) are set to get brand-new series installments. Plus the anime fighting game sub-genre has been graced by the likes of quality material such as Guilty Gear Strive, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Melty Blood: Type Lumina. As a highly devoted Capcom Stan, it warmed my heart to follow Street Fighter 6's progress from a year ago up until its launch. And now that I've gotten the chance to dedicate a ton of my time and energy to it, I'm happy to make this proclamation for my Street Fighter 6 review - the king of fighting games is back!
'Street Fighter 6' Review: A "Drive Rush" to Excellence
'Street Fighter 6' Review
Booting up SF6 and taking a look at its main menu aesthetics immediately makes a statement regarding the game's theme - it's evident that the development team behind this fighter paid special attention to hip-hop culture. Super colorful graffiti art and the soundscape that backs much of this fighter are clear evidence of that personal sentiment. Graphically, Capcom's RE Engine is put to great use here to make each and every part of SF6 look as striking as possible. The signature "World Warriors" series fans have grown old with all look refreshed and evoke the feel of martial arts masters they've matured into. The likes of Ryu and Chun-Li look amazing here as they're adorned in new gear, plus they look just as impressive while sporting their traditional combat attire. I'm equally enamored with the designs and attitudes of SF6's new blood - Jamie, JP, Kimberly, Manon, and especially Marisa (MY PERSONAL MAIN!) all look cool as all hell and inject a good bit of freshness to this game's satisfying roster. Visually, everything about SF6 shines.
On the audio front, much has been made about SF6's soundtrack and just how underwhelming most listeners have found it to be. In my opinion, I'm of two different opinions - I find a good number of the songs featured in this game to be pretty good, while the rest of them are not up to par when you consider just how good past Street Fighter OSTs have been. The themes created for Chun-Li, Kimberly, Jamie, and Cammy are my personal faves, plus a lot of the music presented in "World Tour" mode are bangers. However, there are a bunch of lackluster tunes that would be better served not being made in the first place (Guile's theme is lifeless, plus Luke's remixed theme just doesn't hit as much as his SFV one does.) SF6's overall soundtrack is solid at best.
Fighting games live and die by how pleasing or restrictive their actual gameplay mechanics are. Thankfully, SF6 hits a home run in that regard. SFV's "V-System" has been put by the wayside in favor of SF6's brand-new "Drive Gauge" system. What I love most about this new approach to combat is how it combines elements of past SF systems to present a fighter that gives players the freedom to pull off some super flashy combos. Street Fighter III's "Parry," Street Fighter IV's "Focus Attack," and the newly introduced "Drive Rush" all come together to create one of the best battle systems SF has ever had. And thanks to the major change that attaches "EX" special moves (which are now called "Overdrive" attacks) to the Drive Gauge instead of the Super Meter is a godsend. I say that because SF6 allows players to link Overdrives into "Super Arts," which is cool to watch as a spectator and utilize as a competitor.
SF6 is held up by three main pillars for its mode offering. The most traditional one is "Fighting Ground," which features your usual Arcade Mode, local versus modes, Casual/Ranked online match settings, Training Mode variations, and the all-new "Extreme Battle" mode. So the good parts of Fighting Ground come in the form of an efficient tutorial mode that's great for newcomers and veterans alike, whacky match types that switch up the usual 1v1 format, and rollback netcode that makes playing online feel just as good as playing offline. So are there any bad parts to speak of? Well, SF6's Arcade Mode is a bit of a disappointment due to its lack of anime openings/endings, special rival cutscenes, and secret boss encounters. I wanted so much more from SF6's Arcade Mode besides still images accompanied by dialogue and awards in the form of gallery unlockables. Doing away with SFV's take on Survival Mode completely here is also a total bummer - I would have loved to tackle it here and unlock more character costume colors in that regard.
SF6's "Battle Hub" takes me back to the good old days of the loud and dingy arcades that made me into the fighting game fan I am today. Running around a massive lobby with your custom-made brawler is pretty cool since you can perform a bunch of other actions besides queuing up online clashes with randoms from across the globe. Taking pics, DJ'ing party sessions, playing classic Capcom titles, and competing in avatar battles makes the Battle Hub one of SF6's biggest highlights. As for the other major pillar of this fighter, it's none other than the single-player destination mode called "World Tour." I couldn't wait to put this Street Fighter 6 review together because I wanted to sing that mode's praises. I'm overjoyed that this mode exists and appeals to fighting game players that want to pursue solo endeavors instead of getting bopped online on a regular basis. World Tour is a triumph thanks to a number of praiseworthy elements - being able to construct a custom fighter with moves adopted by the game's roster, having the chance to navigate two major locales, flying off to smaller destinations to meet new potential masters, and running into some unexpected SF vets point to World Tour's strongest components. This lengthy and highly gratifying single-player component feels like an evolved version of Def Jam: Fight for NY's story mode, which is a high compliment coming from yours truly.
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