Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Early Game Review: 'Street Fighter 6'

A new "Street Fighter" release is a hallowed occasion for fighting game fans. Because Capcom typically only releases one new entry per console generation, taking great care to build out each release into a platform unto itself, the hard reset of a new numbered release is nothing short of a paradigm change.

Seven years after the release of "Street Fighter V," "Street Fighter 6" -- due out June 2 -- enters the ring with flash, style and vigor to spare. Continuing the trajectory established by 2008's "Street Fighter IV," Capcom's deep, robust effort is a treat for fighter fans, even if there is little left for those who aren't hooked by the initial concept.

The game is divided into three main phases: the story-based Fighting Ground, the training and casual match-centered World Tour and  multiplayer-focused Battle Hub. Now linked more firmly with Capcom's "Final Fight" universe, the game adds customization options that are new to the series. You're encouraged to build your own character, who will serve as your public-facing avatar for your online exploits.

The game launches with 18 characters, including a mix of stalwarts such as Ken, Ryu, Blanka, Chun-Li, with six new fighters to freshen up the mix.

Adding to the broadcast-style feel is a mix of play-by-play and color commentary, which helps boost the stature of each battle to tournament-level quality.

The e-sports focus permeates, with precision balance and a steady drip of choke points and momentum shifts meant to make for fantastic theater, reinforcing the legacy of "Street Fighter" as one of the most watchable and digestible spectator sports.

Among the hooks to keep players coming back for more, as well as emptying their virtual wallets, are season-driven Fighting Passes, cosmetics-focused Fighter Coins and challenge-based Drive Tickets, which reward gameplay success with premium items. Capcom says the purchases come with the assurance that they won't break the balance, with fighter boosts only affecting gameplay in World Tour and Battle Hub throwdowns.

The gameplay is meant to discourage turtling and routine, rewarding creativity and flourish with the Drive Gauge. With mechanics that let players unleashed parries, focus attacks and other specials, the wild, spirited fights will no doubt dazzle crowds.

While the barriers to entry for the upper echelons of online competition will always be intimidatingly high, "Street Fighter 6" challenges you to hone your skills as you aspire to climb the ranks. Bursting with an overall sensation of joyful exploration, the game quickly establishes itself as the contender to beat in the fighting realm.

Publisher provided review code.

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