Capcom officially announced that Laura Matsuda will be a brand new addition to the Street Fighter 5 roster. Hailing from Brazil, she is a master at Jiu-Jitsu, and is always looking to deliver a devastating grapple move. We got a chance to check out her moves as she premiered at the New York Comic Con.
Laura's fighting style practically demands that she try to close the distance between her opponent. Although she has some decent reach with a split legged flip kick, and can throw a electric projectile, she's at her best when she can get close, grapples her opponents into a lock, and slam their faces into the ground.
Her grappling moves are supplemented with a number of electrically charged abilities, including a slow moving sonic wave shaped projectile, Thunder Clap. It can be used at super close range, like a taser to stun opponents, so that they'll keep their distance. Activating the full "Spark Show" state using the V-Gauge allows the projectile to go further, while her attacks and grabs do increased stun damage. The projectile moves so slowly, that it can be used to control the board by limiting where opponents can jump to. It's a great way to trap opponents in before tackling them with a killer combo.
Other characters I tried out include Karin, who makes a comeback after last appearing in Street Fighter Alpha 3. She is a very technical character who gives as good as she gets. Taking damage actually fuels her up, because she has some very powerful Revenge Meter abilities. So, she can easily turn the fight around, even if you think you have her on the ropes.
I also gave Rashid a spin, who controls the power of wind. Much like Vega, he's a super agile character who can jump off walls. He has a number aerial moves like a dive kick, and can throw a small whirlwind a short distance. The projectile goes upward diagonally, delivering up to two hits, and knocking opponents upward. If you can bait opponents to get in close, skilled fighters can use it to set up a nice combo attack. Otherwise, Rashid can leap around the map, or use his ability to move around opponents, so that he can flank them from behind.
As for returning characters, I played a few rounds as Cammy, whose moves have been slightly revised so that players can't abuse moves like Cannon Spike as much. However, that's balanced out by how much easier it is to chain combos together in Street Fighter 5. When she's in her charged up mode, moves like the Hooligan Combination get some extra strength, and she can transition from the Spin Knuckle straight into a Cannon Spike.
Zangief is as powerful and absurd as ever, using turning his fists into a whirling death. Fights between Laura and Zangief turned out to be very intense, since they're both very close range combatants out to grapple each other. Both need to get in close, but neither knows if the other will pull off a surprise move like an electric shock or whirling around like a top.
Street Fighter 5 looks like it will fully capture the fast-paced combat the series is famous for. The new characters are turning out to be great additions to the roster, but we'll see how they fit in as a whole as more information is released. The game is expected to release in the early half of 2016.