When Street Fighter V released in 2016 for PlayStation 4 and PC, there was little denying that it played absolutely fantastically and looked visually stunning, however, there was equally little denying in regards to its lack of content and depth at launch.  At launch it was missing some pretty basic features such as being able to play 1P vs. CPU, an arcade mode, a proper story mode (the kind of feature seen in NetherRealm Studio games) and a whole punch of bonus modes with added challenges and so forth.  Much of its missing content was added at a later date, such as a cinematic story mode, but it left quite a sour taste to those loyal fans (such as myself) that picked up this game on release.

Now, just shy of two year’s after its initial release, Street Fighter V finally feels like the finished product it should have been last year.  I personally don’t excuse the length of time it got to get this game right, but as the saying goes “better late than never” and that resonates here in January 2018 with Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition.  Best of all, if you’re concerned that you’ll have to fork out some extra cash to access the long awaited Arcade mode and many of this editions features, then fear not, because Arcade mode is a free update to anyone that owns the game and it will download the next time you fire it up (unless you have auto-downloads activated of course).

The Arcade mode features six different paths with a varied amount of fights that you must partake in each and best of all for nostalgia fans, each of the paths are themed upon Street Fighter games of old, going back as far as the original Street Fighter from 1987 (also including SFII, SF Alpha, SFIII and SFIV).  Sadly you don’t get to fight Retsu from the original, but the logo’s and even Ryu’s outfit and hair style somewhat mimics that of the 1987 arcade release.  During some moments of the Arcade mode, you’ll even be challenged to the series iconic bonus modes that will see you smashing on-coming barrels (sadly no car smashing as of yet). Completing one of Arcade paths, you’ll be greeted with some old school illustrations detailing your characters triumphant celebrations after conquering the end of the arcade path boss.

If you want something more substantial for your singleplayer content, then the cinematic story mode which was added post release is better than you might expect.  I won’t reveal any story spoilers here, but while the story is a little difficult to keep track of after the following hour, it’s cinematic’s are as beautiful, vibrant and wacky as the in-game shenanigans, and it’s also not only a great chance to see some of the old characters personalities shine, but it’s also a great way to get introduced to some of the newcomers and how they play.

Other new modes included the Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is Team Battle, taking inspiration from the likes of Marvel vs. Capcom (but also seen in Ultra Street Fighter IV) where players can participate in 3 vs. 3 battles.  Here players can change a whole host of rules, such as life rewarded to a winner when carrying on over into the next battle, whether you want to play via elimination or over a ‘best of’ series of matches.  Extra Battle Mode will be timed events that will require players to take on set challenges.  To access this feature, players must spend their in-game currency earned from playing the game, but if you beat these challenges by defeating more challenging CPU opponents, you could be rewarded with items such as premium costumes.  So if you’re up to the challenge, this is certainly a feature worthy of your time.

In terms of gameplay mechanics, each of the fighters included in the roster now has a second V-Trigger power move, offering even more variety and depth to the characters, giving you more opportunity to study the game furthermore.  The second V-Trigger ability will vary from character to character, but in many cases, it gives additionally opportunities to punish your opponent with a devastating attack or turn the tide of a battle with an almighty counter attack.  Improvements have also been made to the training mode, where not only will you have each of your moves highlighted, but the character in which your controlling will be colour co-ordinated between red and blue, to indicate when your most invulnerable or vulnerable.  If you can put in the time to master your favourite character, the training should be worth your invested time for sure.  It’s also with noting that the User Interface has also been improved upon as a whole, making it slightly easier to navigate and a little easier on the eye.

As already stated, if you already own Street Fighter V, you will get access to the Arcade mode, all its additional modes and features, including the new UI as a free update.  However, should you pick up the SFV: Arcade Edition as a standalone, whether in physical or digital form, you’ll also get all characters included in the Season 1 and 2 Character passes, including Balrog, Guile, Ibuki, Menat, Zeku and Abigail and if you shop about via online retailers, you may even be able to pick up this edition for as little as £25, which is fantastic value for money in my opinion.  As with before, you’ll also be able to purchase additional characters and stages, including the forthcoming season 3 content with currency earned in-game.

It may have taken nearly a year to get it right, but Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition finally delivers on the promise to the standard of quality this iconic series deserves.  It has everything you’d want from the franchise and then some.  Stunning, crisp 2.5D visuals, even more depth to its gameplay then seen over its initial release, more value to its modes and now even a smoother online experience (though I’m always still getting my ass whopped).  Whether you’re a current or new owner of Street Fighter V, now is the time to get in on the action, because this Arcade Edition has reminded me of how much I love this series and in a nutshell, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is about as damn near to a perfect fighter game as you can get.  But would you really expect anything less from the series that is Street Fighter?