When Street Fighter V released with a bare minimal amount of content, casual fans took to the internet and ripped Capcom’s newest entry in their legendary fighting series to shreds. I’m not here to participate in said shredding, nor am I here to defend it, but rather focus on the game’s newly added story DLC, A Shadow Falls.
Where canon is concerned, A Shadow Falls fleshes out the events between Street Fighter IV and III, and acts as the series’ first ever cinematic story mode. Similar to those found in the latest Mortal Kombat titles, the structure is broken down in to various one-round encounters between lengthy scripted cut-scenes, which tell the story of a recently revived Charlie Nash, the mysterious appearance of Black Moons in the sky, the evil doers over at Shadaloo manifesting godlike powers, and the arrival of the prophetic soul devourer Necalli.
The story itself is lighthearted and even downright goofy at times, but provides enough central focus on each of the game’s cast of characters that it increased my emotional investment in fighters I’ve spent the better part of my life playing as.
It wouldn’t be a maiden voyage without a few comical hiccups though, and A Shadow Falls gave me more than a few chuckle-worthy moments due to its broken hair physics. Any cinematic showcasing a long-haired fighter, or one sporting a flowing piece of attire, would generally end in laughter as it flapped and swung about like a tornado was forming in their immediate vicinity. One instance in particular had one of Cammy’s signature braids stuck between her thong-clad butt cheeks as if they were clenched together for dear life. Buns of steel, that woman.
The cinematic campaign of A Shadow Falls even focuses on the game’s DLC fighters, allowing players like myself to essentially test drive them, even without having purchased them via the season pass or with in-game Fight Money — including Urien, who isn’t even in the game yet as of the time of this review. There’s even cameos from the likes of Abel, Guy, Decapre, and Sean (seen playing Mega Man, no less), which helped expand the world with familiar faces.
Like Mortal Kombat X, this forced me in to playing characters I’d normally stray away from. However, where Mortal Kombat threw me in to multiple battles as the same fighter, thus letting me get an actual feel for their combat styles, Street Fighter V had me jumping between different combatants with nearly every standoff.
While I appreciate that there was never a dull moment, fights are limited to a single round and never truly gave me the opportunity to grow in to any of the characters. A single life bar was merely enough to throw out a few special moves, but never enough to play around with V-Triggers or EX abilities.
I grew attached to the game’s cast, based purely on the kookie narrative — Rashid and Zangief are loveable and hilarious, while F.A.N.G. is unpredictable and batshit insane — which is a weird thing for a fighter to accomplish. I can understand why some would be off put by such a campy tale, but I found its lighthearted approach to be easily digestable and fitting of the more colorful aesthetic the series has undertaken over its last two entries.
A Shadow Falls is a relatively short experience, clocking in between 3 or 4 hours. Completing it opens up a tougher difficulty setting, but with no new trophies associated with it (and no Fight Money to earn) I found very little reason to dive back in.
If you want to spend more time with DLC fighters you haven’t purchased yet, you can immediately jump to any fight you’ve completed through the in-game chapter menu. I found myself replaying battles with Juri or Urien to get pumped for their upcoming release, but as someone who doesn’t own the season pass, I’m sure I’ll be replaying the chapters of Alex, Ibuki, Guile, and Balrog as well. It really is a smart way for Capcom to give their playerbase a taste of things to come, as now I know what to expect should I decide to fork over $30 for the season pass.
A Shadow Falls is interesting enough to recommend at least one playthrough, and with it being free there’s really no reason to avoid it unless you’re purely interested in taking the fight online. This marks the series’ first foray in to cinematic storytelling, and I hope it becomes the new standard moving forward. However, I strongly urge Capcom to include it at launch next time, rather than 5 months after its release.
*So where’s the final score? There isn’t one. I spent a lot of time conveying my opinion in the above text, and I hope that’s worth more to you than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes. Basically, I’m not a fan of scores so I no longer use them. Read the review and judge for yourself if the game is worth your time and money.
Full disclosure: This review was done using a PlayStation 4 copy of Street Fighter V that I purchased myself. While I’m sometimes given games to review, I pride myself on providing unbiased reviews to fellow consumers, along with constructive feedback to hard working developers and publishers. Whether or not I pay for the game is completely irrelevant.