Street Fighter 6 Review – Capcom’s Magnum Opus

Street Fighter 6 Review

For over 30 years, Street Fighter has been the epitome of fighters. Each release in its lauded history is distinct with unique systems that form part of its identity. While its roots always remain intact, flourishes expand on the foundation to create intense battles like no other. With the sixth entry in the franchise introducing a full single-player experience and deeper online system, could it be an uppercut above the rest?

Central to combat is the Drive System. Combining aspects from its rich history, you can initiate the mode in several ways to support both offensive and defensive maneuvers. Learning when and how to use it is exhilarating. The flexible and intricate mechanic offers a layer of strategy that complements the already incredible combat to make Street Fighter 6 one of, if not, the best fighting game to date.

Time to Drive

Refreshingly, you begin with a full Drive Gauge and must manage your usage throughout the fight. This allows you to take calculated risks, unleashing a series of visceral attacks in order to clinch the victory. However, due to the many aspects of the system, it also supports you to bate and reverse strikes to get an advantage on the battlefield. Although your gauge continues to refill throughout the fight, if you overuse your abilities and completely drain your bar, you’ll enter Burnout. At this point, abilities are compromised and you are much more susceptible to being stunned. Because of this, you will monitor your use throughout in order to not enter a vulnerable state. This enhances the chess-like tactical approach to fights to create an intoxicating combat system that surpasses previous entries in the series.

The multifaceted Drive System is a game changer. Similar to Focus Attacks in SFIV, Drive Impact is a stylish strike that can power through oncoming attacks to land a significant blow. If you perform this in the right location, you can send the opposition crashing into the wall which allows you to continue your assault. As you unleash all manner of violent specials, you can add an Overdrive to these which is basically an EX version of the attack. All of this continues to build your Special meter which grants you the opportunity to deliver a cinematic combination. With three variations and conditional boosts, there are plenty of ways to pummel your opponent.

Dynamic Defence

Another manner in which Capcom reinvents the past is with the Drive Parry. A fan favorite feature in SF3, this allows you to fend off attacks in a slick, martial arts master manner. Whereas its previous inclusion required adept timing and precision, in Street Fighter 6 it is more accessible and ties to the Drive Gauge. With the press of two buttons, you enter a state to deflect attacks which is a great way to relieve pressure when overwhelmed. This can also combine with Drive Rush, a maneuver that allows you to quickly close the distance between you and your adversary, which is perfect for close-quarters combat. To add further defensive options, there is also the Drive Reversal which is an excellent tool to stop combos. This means you can block an attack, pushing them back to provide an opening to counter.

The franchise has spawned some of the most iconic characters in the medium. So ensuring there’s a balanced roster that includes staples of the series and new competitors is imperative. Fortunately, the selection of World Warriors offers variety and will please fans from all eras. In addition to legendary fighters such as Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li, several new combatants enter the fray. Each of these is a breath of fresh air with interesting mechanics and play styles that add a contemporary twist to the cast.

The King of Fighters

Capcom’s signature design permeates each of the 18 personalities with all of them having unique elements to differentiate themselves. Whether you prefer a rush down, zonal, grappler or range fighter, there are plenty to suit your playstyle. At a glance, some may seem similar, however, the number of nuances within each move-set ensures that every individual is unique. Due to this, the game encourages you to commit to learning the ins and outs of a character in order to compete at the highest level.

Single-player experiences in the genre are now an expectation. NetherRealm altered the landscape with their cinematic story mode which inspired future titles in the genre. Street Fighter 6 sidesteps the approach and opts to smash down a path of its own. In World Tour mode, you literally take to the streets in an RPG mode which will see you travel the globe. Before you set out, you will need to create your avatar. The depth of the creation suite is remarkable. You can tweak almost anything to personalize your bruiser. While this will lead to some strange and silly designs, it opens up the possibility to create literally anyone you want.

On your adventure, you’ll come across an array of famous faces that will teach and guide you to master the art of fighting. You’ll learn styles, bond with your character and even compete alongside them. RPG aspects come into play through customization. You can alter your stats and fight random people on the sidewalk to level up your player. While there’s an addictive loop to upgrade your character, it can get a little repetitive in the early portion of the game as you lack a varied move-set and your foes are much weaker. 

Hitting the Streets

As you peruse the streets, enemies can bolt toward you to initiate a fight. At this point, you can use the Drive Stall which is a specific ability attached to the mode. This allows you to slow down time to deliver a Master Action that will give you an advantage when the fight begins. Another feature exclusive to World Tour is Pressure Time. As you pummel your opponent, they can flash white. If you connect with an attack at this point, you will deal even more damage which is beneficial when you are juggling multiple opponents. The single-player portion feels different from the base game as it lacks tactical precision, however, it’s a great deviation and uses the core mechanics in a different manner.

The environment is full of personality and full of tasks. Due to the small and dense world, it is easy to wander off and discover new things to do and people to encounter. Similar to titles from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, there’s an endearing silliness that resides around every corner. At times you will need to earn money and to do so, you must take part in mini-games. These are well-designed, developing your skills in fun, bite-sized segments. 

Fighting Ground is where the traditional elements of the game lie. As well as 1v1 fights, you can also participate in Team Battles, which allow you to compete in 3v3 fights. An entertaining and absurd mode is the Extreme Battle. You can select from a range of modifiers and stipulations that completely alters how you would normally approach a match. This can involve bombs that you can kick toward each other and a tug-o-war health bar. While this is obviously just silly fun, it’s perfect for party scenarios and to break the intensity of standard battles.

Call of the Cabinet

In the Arcade Mode, you learn a little about your chosen character through stills and a voice-over. Although the cutscenes are quite short, it does a good job of giving context in an efficient manner. You can now choose a shorter version of the mode which is particularly beneficial if you’re not as confident with a character. However, if you want to improve your skills with anyone, then you can via the comprehensive training mode. Here you are able to set a routine to practice against, learn the very basics, grasp a character’s move-set and master combo trials. The tutorials are designed to help players at any level and are the perfect way to improve.

ESports has been a factor in Capcom’s approach to the Battle Hub. This is where you will encounter players from around and be able to challenge them by just approaching an arcade machine. The arena houses ranked, casual and extreme matchups, making it a simple affair to find a fight. Adding to the eSport feel is the inclusion of commentators. While I personally prefer to fight without this option, its implementation is strong and feels natural. Significant CFN improvements have also come into play, which makes it much easier to manage your friend list and more. One way it does this is through the Fighters Club which lets you group up before you hit the hub. There’s a joyous sense of community that imbues the room which makes it feel like you’re hanging out with pals. One way Capcom encourages this is through the revolving retro arcade cabinets. Classics from the developer These are an absolute blast and a great deviation from fights.

Play Your Way

Multiple control schemes are available in Street Fighter 6. While the classic option is ingrained for many, it can also act as a barrier for newcomers. To overcome this, Capcom has introduced a modern, simplified control system that makes the game much more accessible. To maintain balance, certain aspects are absent from the modern controls which ensure that skill overcomes button mashing. In addition to this, there’s also a dynamic system that is aimed at younger gamers. This shrinks the buttons to three and includes AI assistance to activate Drive features. Although I prefer the original control method, the new systems are a great way to introduce players to the game.

Street Fighter 6 is an incredible celebration of previous releases and a confident stride into the future. The new Drive System adds a multitude of layers to combat making fights the best they have ever been. Capcom’s new approach to single-player content with the World Tour is weird and wonderful even if it can get a little repetitive. The community-focused approach to online play is a step above its competitors and the amount of content is insane. Not only is Street Fighter 6 a worthy sequel, but it’s also the best fighter to date. 

***PS5 code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Varied Drive System
  • Busy Battle Hub
  • A Ton of Content

The Bad

  • World Tour is a Little Repetitive
  • Some Iconic Fighters Are Absent