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Other than the fact that it took Capcom way too long to get its online multiplayer working, the biggest complaint about Street Fighter V when it launched back in February was its lack of things to do other than get your ass handed to you by internet strangers. Capcom promised to address that dearth with a series of free updates, but it wasn’t until last week with the release of its biggest expansion yet that Street Fighter V got its first legitimate single-player mode in the form of a cinematic story mode. If you’ve held off from buying the game for this long, this campaign should in no way change your mind. For those who’ve already made the leap, though, it’s a ridiculous, cheesy treat.
Following in the footsteps of the superb story modes found in the last two Mortal Kombat games, Street Fighter V’s “general story” brings its cast together for a globe-hopping adventure with vaguely apocalyptic stakes. It’s mostly noninteractive movie scenes, with the occasional break to let you blast through a trivial, single-round bout with one of the game’s many characters. That formula worked great in Mortal Kombat, where the story stretches out to around five hours and gives you enough fights with different characters to provide a legitimate test bed for players looking for a new favorite. With its minimal fights and easy difficulty level, Street Fighter V’s story doesn’t have the same novice-friendly benefits.
What it does have is a ludicrous plot and tons of poorly translated dialogue. It’s essentially Dragon Ball Z, with the various world warriors getting together and traveling the globe to collect a bunch of tchotchkes before M. Bison’s goon squad can do the same and launch man-made moons that block out the sun or blow up satellites or crash into the Earth or something. Also, there’s a soul-devouring man-beast on the loose, alternating his form between human, sheep, and a pile of goo. Honestly, I’m not really sure what the hell was going on, but it didn’t matter.
This story mode is so riddled with awful anime clichés and nonsensical scenes that I was laughing my ass off from start to finish. Part of the appeal is seeing these absurd characters thrust into contexts that aren’t just “Hey, we’re having a sportsmanlike test of skill.” Suddenly, you start to think about the fact that Balrog is literally always wearing giant boxing gloves or that Zangief stores stuff in his chest hair, because where else would he keep it, I guess. In fact, and this might be a result of personal bias, but Zangief is by far the highlight of the whole affair. He steals every scene he’s in—constantly screaming “MUSCLE,” deflecting swords with his iron chest, and walking around in the background posing for no reason while steam erupts from his skin.
Beyond the pure weirdness of seeing these characters do things other than street fighting, this story mode reaches so-bad-it’s-good status at every level. In one scene, Alex beats the crap out of Dhalsim, because he’s convinced that the floating yogi is going to mug him. A bunch of ninja that show up briefly toward the end of the campaign aren’t even given finished models. Pointy and textureless, they look like PlayStation 1 characters that show up to save the day. At one point, Cammy gets into a fight with a random middle-aged Brazilian police officer named Peter, and afterward she’s whisked away on an ATV by Juri from Street Fighter IV, the two of them seemingly riding it all the way to London. That’s the kind of logic you can expect out of this absolute farce. Does it tell a gripping story or teach you to play the game? Not in the least, but it’s the right kind of stupid to be an entertaining piece of fluff for a few hours.