If there’s one major complaint everyone had about Street Fighter V had, it would be the lack of any significant single player modes. Sure, you could go through Survival matches, face off against the CPU by fiddling with the options in Training mode and, a little bit later after the game’s release, go through the Challenge combos for all characters. But, essentially, the best way to get the most out of Street Fighter V was to play against other people. Understandably, people were upset at the elimination of a substantial single player experience.
Capcom has been trying to convince these people that the new Story mode was going to to sate their hunger for single player goodness. And now that A Shadow Falls, the title for Street Fighter V’s Story campaign has been out, was Capcom right? Was it enough to appease the fans? Let’s find out!
Well, the short version is A Shadow Falls is good. It isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination but it is a much better experience than just simply going through a traditional Arcade mode to watch a short clip of what happened to your chosen character… but not by much.
Since Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls is a free update, I’m assuming those who have the game already have gone through it at least once to get some Fight Money. So, since everyone who wants to know if this is any good probably already gone through the Story mode, this will be a rather SPOILER heavy review!
Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls takes place in between the events of Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter III, making Street Fighter V a prequel of sorts. Anyway, FANG activates Operations CHAINS, which involves launching huge satellites called Black Moons that have the ability to cause blackouts and cause massive destruction to the planet. The resulting fear from the Black Moons threat will make Shadowloo’s head honcho, M. Bison, more powerful as negative emotions enhances his Psycho Power. The rest of the World Warriors set out to stop Shadowloo nefarious plan.
There’s a lot more things happening than just that. Besides the huge hulking Black Moons and FANG’s Operation CHAINS, there’s also Necalli, a being that comes out whenever the world is in crisis, resurfaces to consume the souls of great fighters. Rashid is looking for his friend who may have been kidnapped by Shadowloo. Cammy sets out to rescue Decapre. Charlie/Nash’s resurrection. There’s a whole mess of things happening all that once and, sadly, this is one of A Shadow Falls faults: there are just too many things happening and it makes the story kind of messy to follow. It’s certainly easy to follow and filled with cheesy scenes that’ll put a smile on a B-movie lover’s face. But that doesn’t mean it’s particularly interesting.
In fact, a lot of these subplots don’t really pan out. One particular sore spot is Necalli’s story. He’s built up to be some monster that’s difficult to defeat. Something like an irresistible force that you can’t fight against. Yet, after Ryu does some training (which we never really see, by the way) and defeats Necalli during the middle of A Shadow Falls, the monster that’s supposed to consume the souls of great fighters just melts away, never to be seen again. What a disappointment!
Capcom did try to give a chance for everyone to shine and do their stuff. However, they did it in a really awkward way. Throughout the entire 2-hour Story mode, you’ll bounce between controlling different characters without any particular warning. During his first fight, I didn’t even realize I was supposed to be controlling Necalli against Ryu as Necalli was on the right/2nd player side of the screen! If this wasn’t confusing enough, you usually only control one character and then switch to another in the next match. So, if you’re unfamiliar with a lot of the characters, you’ll mostly be relying to jumping in or pushing buttons in those combo videos you’ve never bothered doing before!
But, this switching of characters does have some good side effects. The main one being the ability to control two characters that aren’t even in the official roster yet! Although they’ll only become available in the next couple of months, you can actually play as Juli, the insane, murderous, bisexual (?) Tae Kwon Do master from Street Fighter IV and Urien, the tyrannical brute from Street Fighter III. If you’re a fan of these characters, A Shadow Falls will be your first taste on seeing what they can do in the game. I may not super excited about Juri and Urien but, based on the reaction they got during Balrog’s trailer, I’m guessing there are at least a couple of people, like LI Joe, hyped to see at least Urien join the roster of Street Fighter V.
Besides the guys and gals in Street Fighter V’s roster, you also get to fight against a slew of non-playable fighters as well. A good number of them are simply no named Shadowloo enforcers and soldiers that you don’t really care for. There is also one notable and rather insane moment when Cammy decides to go rogue to save Decapre from being arrested and you fight against Peter, the hapless cop that takes massive amounts of damage with each hit! It’s dumb but hilarious at the same time.
But the best non-playable fighters would definitely have to be M. Bison’s Doll soldiers. While they all have the same basic moves as Cammy, each Doll was given their own set of special moves, making them almost seem… playable. While some of them, like Marz and Enero only seem to have one special move (Marz has her laptop smash and Enero has a yell that can damage and stun opponents), a lot of the Doll have several special attacks. Decapre seems to be the most fleshed out, but Santama with her spear attacks, Satsuki has her sword slashes as well as her ninja suplexes and Fevrier has her minigun attacks and her crossup kick!
Oh, and it’s also nice that Capcom decided to give each of them a different personality. Even the characters that you don’t get to fight against, like Noembelu’s stoic personality and Marz’s mousy shyness makes them feel like really fleshed out characters. And you just gotta love Enero’s flamboyant and superiority complex, making her a match for Karin in the laughing department!
Now, if you were expecting a lot of fighting involved, you’re going to be incredibly disappointed with A Shadow Falls. Most of the 2-hour experience will be mostly watching cutscenes with very little fighting. The actual fighting are actually incredibly short bouts as Capcom decided to make them single round affairs. It does make sense since, well, it isn’t a tournament. But it would’ve been much better if they were traditional best 2 out of 3 matches. The AI in Normal mode starts off easy but does ramp up slowly. By the end of Street Fighter V’s Story mode, casuals will probably have a hard time defeating M. Bison’s controller reading abilities since he manages to do the right attack to counter your button presses often!
While I would say Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls fails on a lot of aspects, there’s one thing that Capcom did very well the game’s story mode: the work they did in the presentation. Every cutscene is done using the in-game engine, which means there are not pre-rendered cutscenes. Yet everything is gorgeous! Sure, there are some clipping issues and loose bits like hair and clothing seem to fly everywhere. But, other than that, each cutscene looks beautiful! And I haven’t even mentioned the other things they have in the background that you may not notice. There are a ton of new stages! You get to fight inside the Shadowloo base at times, which is something you’ll never see… until they become DLC.
Also, the music. Ah, all those extra new stage background tunes! They may not be as epic as the character theme song remixes but they are actually pretty decent. Capcom could’ve just rehashed all of the songs and we would’ve been fine with it. Yet they actually composed a whole slew of new tunes to listen to while these matches are happening! We even got a remix of Decapre’s theme song from Ultra Street Fighter IV as well as a more dramatic version of Ryu’s classic song at the end of the game! Capcom sure put a lot of work into making A Shadow Falls feel like a totally new experience and that’s a totally good thing!
Overall, Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls is actually a fun experience. It’s not groundbreaking on any way and other fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Injustice and BlazBlue tell their stories in more compelling ways. However, A Shadow Falls is fun because it’s filled with a lot of fan service and cheesy moments and it’s presentation is phenomenal. It’s also dumb and flashy and never really seems to take itself too seriously. If you’re a Street Fighter fan, you’re probably going to love it.
Have you gone through Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls story campaign? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!