Amongst all the genres out there, fighting games require a specific “eye” to really understand and appreciate comparatively (you have to look at more than things such as graphics, gameplay modes, or story to effectively sell a fighting game to genre fans).
So how do you evaluate a fighting games’ worth and value when you see a new one on the market?
Reviewing games in general needs that specific eye not just fighters. And since your asking for how one evaluates a fighter on a competitive site is much different to the answers you will get from an everyday reviewer from like IGN or something. Small list of a generic checklist for fighters i can think off the top of my head. Single Player (Story, Extras, Hours Of Gameplay), Roster (quality not quantity), Training Mode (competitive ppl thing), Versus Screen (fast set up like buttons, gems, assists, etc., easy to find characters?) Engine (mostly competitive but if something is too complex or just doesn’t make sense even casual players will put it down), Main Fight Screen (overbearing hud or attack visuals?), Tutorial/Trials, Overall Aesthetics, Load Times, Online Net Code…hmmm
Take into several things. Price, graphics, sound quality, fluidity of the animation, roster size, developer, community involvement and support, extra features, etc etc. Also be sure to review several reputable gaming news sights to see their reviews, its scores, and how it relates to other sites’ reviews of that game.
Ultimately, you’ll have to scrutinize the gameplay vids and/or demos that you can get your hands on. Which skills does this cater to the most? Is it slower paced and more strategic? Faster paced that favors solid execution and mix-ups? Perhaps it focuses more on mobility and creativity to control your character? How about a highly technical game that rewards game knowledge and utilization of frame data? Most games contain all of these factors, but focus primarily on a few. Figure out what you want out of a game, and see how each game measures to your standards.
the issue with fighting games is, that unlike other genres (except maybe some racing games), most of them get first an arcade release, then a console release follows (perhaps even a PC or smartphone release).
So basically you have to take into consideration its arcade version as well. Playing only the console version does not do the game justice. A lot of reviews ignore the arcade version or havent played it at all. Hence you see so few arcade reviews.