Street Fighter 6 Review: The Master of Versus Fighting is back

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A nostalgic reunion

Street Fighter is arguably the most iconic fighting game franchise in the video game world. With the launch of the 6th opus, the world of versus fighting is alive once again. For all those who have spent years perfecting their Hadouken and sonic booms, this is much more than just a game.

It’s an experience made up of emotions, journeys and memories.

For veterans like me, Street Fighter 6 isn’t just another episode, it’s a return to our roots, a chance to reawaken the fighter in us all. But Capcom has wider ambitions for Street Fighter 6: it’s aimed at aficionados and novices alike.

Whether you’re a seasoned fighter or new to the arena, this title deserves your attention. And I’ll explain why in this Street Fighter 6 review.

street fighter 6 tier list

Street Fighter 6 review conducted on PlayStation 5 using a retail version of the game.

A lasting legacy

The first ‘Street Fighter’, released in 1987, was a pioneer, offering players a unique fighting experience for its time, even if it paled in comparison to its successors in terms of polish and depth. 

However, it was “Street Fighter II” that really put the series on the global video game map. Its incredible gameplay mechanics for its time and characters with distinct fighting styles made it an instant classic. With each update, Capcom introduced new characters and gameplay mechanics, including “Super Street Fighter II Turbo”, which introduced the concept of “Super Combos” and unveiled the enigmatic fighter…Akuma.

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The Alpha series, although a prequel in terms of narrative, was progressive in terms of gameplay. “Street Fighter Alpha 3” is particularly notable. The introduction of three fighting styles, known as ‘ISMs’, offered players unprecedented strategic depth. Street Fighter Alpha also featured a very successful cartoony art direction. It’s one of the Street Fighter games I spent the most time on during my teenage years, full of jump medium kick cross-ups and diabolical combos.

The release of Street Fighter III was met with mixed feelings. At first, fans were baffled by the almost entirely new character line-up, with only Ryu, Ken, Akuma and Chun-li returning. But it was also due to the poor distribution of the game, which started out exclusively in arcades and was later introduced on the Dreamcast. Street Fighter III did not receive the commercial success it deserved. 

However, as players immersed themselves in its complex mechanics, particularly the parry system introduced in ‘3rd Strike’, it became one of the most skill-intensive titles in the series. Even after two decades, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is still a fixture in tournaments, a testament to its enduring appeal.

The iconic fight between Justin Wong and Daigo ‘The Beast’ is a case in point.

Street Fighter IV arrived 9 years later after Capcom had abandoned the series, following the commercial fiasco of Street Fighter III. Street Fighter IV marked the start of a new era for the series, but also for the genre.

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By introducing 3D character models while retaining a 2D battle plan, Street Fighter IV modernized the series. The introduction of the Focus Attack added a new layer of strategy.

The final version, “Ultra Street Fighter IV”, expanded the list of fighters and introduced the Red Focus and Double Ultra mechanisms, giving players even more tactical depth.

The latest main installment, “Street Fighter V”, although controversial at the outset due to its lack of content – yes Mr Capcom, we all still remember that the story mode didn’t appear until well after the release!

The release of the Arcade Edition was a major overhaul, offering a variety of fan-requested modes and introducing a second V trigger for characters. The Champion Edition further refined the game, unlocking a plethora of content and introducing new V skills.

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Capcom has listened to players’ feedback and introduced innovative features without alienating fans. As the series continues with this 6th installment, Capcom is not wavering from the rule, and is offering us yet another revolution.

Street Fighter 6 succeeds in offering a gameplay that delights both veterans of versus gaming and neophytes alike. Let’s take a closer look.

Street Fighter 6 RPG: World Tour Mode

Do you remember Tobal, the Squaresoft series that was an RPG mix with battles between characters drawn by Akira Toriyama?
Well, Street Fighter 6’s World Tour mode is a next-gen Tobal with Capcom characters. This mode lets you create an avatar and roam the streets of Metro City, where quests, challenges and street battles await you.

Beginning as Luke’s apprentice, the game embarks you on a journey where you cross paths with pivotal characters like Chun-li, Jamie, Ken, Ryu, and others. These characters turn into your mentors, guiding you through your adventure.

This lets you learn special moves and upgrade your avatar with a mix of special moves we’ve all dreamed of. Swing a Hadouken, a spinning kick from Chun-li or a Somersault from our friend Guile… it’s all possible in the World Tour mode.
As well as the battles, you’ll be navigating Metro City, with its fairly well-detailed urban landscapes. As you wander around, you’ll come across various NPCs who can either give you quests or challenge other street fighters. When a fight starts, the open world mode stops, and the 2d battle map starts up.

The quests are well narrated, and the story keeps you on your toes right up until the climax, when you face JP. Of course, we’re a long way from the narrative of Final Fantasy 16, but the World Tour mode is refreshing and a good training mode for new players.

It’s a shame, though, that Capcom has chosen opponents with cardboard boxes on their heads, or even fridges (yes, fridges).

It seems that the developers of this mode spent too much time smoking with Dee-Jay.

Despite this small drawback, the World Tour mode is an unexpected and enjoyable single-player adventure that will take you 15 or so hours to complete the main quest and 25 hours if you want to complete all the side quests. Not bad at all for a fighting game.

Street Fighter 6

Game Name: Street Fighter 6

Available on: PS5, PS4, XBox Series, PC.

Developers: Capcom

Release Date: 2 June 2023

Buy Now on Amazon

Battle Hub : Street Fighter Metaverse

Once you’ve created your unique avatar in World Tour mode, you can join the Battle Hub – also accessible from the main menu.

Battle Hub mode transports you to a vast neo arcade, a sort of metaverse for fighting fans.

The layout is intuitive. On your left is the event counter, where you can keep track of current tournaments. On the right, you’ll find the Hub shop, featuring a constantly evolving range of equipment and accessories, available for purchase to further personalize your avatar.

But it’s the central Arena that forms the heart of the Battle Hub. Arcade machines allow players to duel each other using the main roster, or to watch the battles in progress.

There’s also a unique avatar battle zone, where players can pit their custom characters against others, using the equipment and skills they’ve acquired. Get ready for some surprising battles.

The Battle Hub also pays tribute to Capcom’s rich history. The Game Center lets you play classic games such as Mega Man, Street Fighter II and Final Fight. The games change regularly, and it’s highly likely that Capcom will add more content in the future.

The integration of this Battle Hub into Street Fighter 6 adds depth and engagement to the game, which is no longer limited to combat but is enriched by a wider experience.

It’s a testament to Capcom’s commitment to evolving the Street Fighter series and, in my opinion, is one of the game’s most innovative features.

Fighting Ground Mode: The essentials

Fighting Ground mode is Street Fighter 6‘s most classic mode, featuring an arcade mode that follows the stories of each character, Training mode, Extreme Battle mode and online battles.

In the ‘Extreme Battles’ mode, dynamic elements are introduced such as raging bulls that disrupt the battles, or different rules such as having to win the match by performing certain actions or scoring a certain number of points. This mode adds an unpredictable touch that intensifies the single-player battles. 

Capcom hasn’t repeated the mistakes of Street Fighter 5 and is delivering a complete arcade mode right from the game’s release, and that’s great news. You’ll learn a little more about the history of the 18 characters who make up the roster in this 6th episode. At the time of writing, Rashid has just been introduced, bringing the total to 19 characters.

The starting roster for Street Fighter 6 is diverse, with classics like Ryu, Ken and Cammy, Guile, E.Honda, as well as 6 newcomers: JP, Jamie, Manon, Marisa, Kimberly, Lilly. Although the absence of some iconic characters at launch is a minor disappointment, especially for long-time fans like me, there’s more than enough characters for everyone to enjoy.

Of course, Capcom has already announced its intention to introduce new characters over time via different seasons pass.

Fighting in Paradise

The attention to detail in Street Fighter 6 is immediately palpable when you launch the game. Each character exudes a striking charisma, while the meticulously designed environments seamlessly blend the nostalgic charm of classic stages with visually stunning, modern graphics.

It’s hard to pinpoint any one scene, as the distinct ambience of each setting is testament to its uniqueness. From the vibrant Fête Foraine in Paris to the impressive Tian Hong Yuan stage, inspired by the enchanting temples of Shanghai’s Yu Garden, to Marisa’s Colosseo, each location is masterfully executed, setting the perfect stage for intense combat.

Capcom’s approach to character design has evolved considerably since SF5, abandoning the cartoony aesthetic and introducing more ‘realistic’ models with careful 3D modeling. In the heat of the action, the animations are executed with great finesse, elegantly capturing the fluid movements of the characters as they land their blows. The visual spectacle is further enhanced by special moves such as ultras arts, Drive impacts or Drive rushes, for which special effects have been given particular attention.

As for the choice of music, it doesn’t leave a particularly memorable impression, the modern rap music in the menus stands out in the game, and the soundtracks…well, after 200 hours of playing, I cannot recall a single soundtrack, whereas I can still hum the SF2 soundtracks.

Hopefully, Capcom will give us the chance to add the old tracks that helped make the series famous.

In terms of performance, the game is fluid, and I didn’t experience any frame rate drops, despite the fact that I was constantly playing in graphics mode (on PS5).

Modern Controls Vs Classic Controls: The road to accessibility

One of the most criticized new features of SF6 is the appearance of new types of controls. Capcom has added a Modern Controls Mode to make combos and special moves easier to execute for the novice gamer. Activated by default when you start the game, Modern Controls mode offers simplified controls for light, medium, heavy attacks – with no distinction between punching and kicking, and one button for Special Moves. By pressing the ‘Assist’ key and another button, the AI takes care of the best action for the situation. Although particularly useful for new players, this modern controls mode is not without its drawbacks. Hits inflict slightly less damage, and you’re deprived of certain special moves.

As its name suggests, Classic Controls mode is the control system that long-time Street Fighter players know and love. With 3 Punch buttons, 3 Feet buttons and no assist button, this mode offers a much greater depth of play than Modern Control and gives full access to all the special moves and combos of each character.

Capcom’s approach is a commendable effort to broaden the game’s audience without diminishing the challenge for experienced players who have the classic controls mode.

Street Fighter 6 Gameplay core

It’s time to talk about the heart of the game. The gameplay. And in terms of gameplay mechanics, Street Fighter 6 has set the bar very high for fighting games.

Initial feedback from players claimed that certain mechanisms, such as Drive Impacts, made the game too accessible, and implied that the game favored beginners who spammed buttons with frenzy. Not so.

Behind this initial perception lies an extremely deep and complex gameplay that requires in-depth understanding to be truly mastered.

Street Fighter 6 requires you to continually adapt and evolve your strategies. Each character has a wide range of abilities. So, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the strengths and weaknesses of all the characters if you want to stand a chance. The game rewards those who invest the time to understand the subtleties of each character. 

Let’s look at the mechanics of this new iteration.

Drive Gauge System

A key mechanism in Street Fighter 6 is the Drive Gauge System. It adds a layer of tactical complexity and depth, pushing players to strike a delicate balance between attack and defense.

Below your life bar, you’ll find the Drive Gauge Meter. This