Pro Gamers on Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown

Sparks, circus animals and lasers? Professional fighting competitors offer their thoughts on the latest game in the Virtua Fighter series and the changes to its core systems.

Sega's Virtua Fighter franchise has always had a solid fan base, and now is a good time for it to launch a new Virtua Fighter title. Renewed interest in the fighting game genre--on the back of the success of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition--means Virtua Fighter now has the opportunity to reach out to a much larger, active audience.

But is the newest version, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (VF5FS), packing enough new features to take the series to the next level? Will this be the game to push the series to Street Fighter or Tekken levels of popularity? Players have often attributed Virtua Fighter's comparatively smaller fan following to be a direct result of its steep learning curve, and the large amount of dedication that is required to become a master. Many professional players refer to it as one of the more difficult, but rewarding, games to learn.

Just a month shy of its release, VF5FS was available for play at the recent Shadowloo Showdown event. Hosted in Melbourne, the Australian-based tournament was the perfect opportunity for GameSpot to speak to some professional players about their impressions of the new game.

Ryan "Prodigal Son" Hart, from the UK, is perhaps best known for holding the Guinness World Record for the most international wins in Street Fighter. He also has a soft spot for the Virtua Fighter series, saying that, because of its complexity, it is his favourite fighting game series, though he laments its lack of popularity.

"People start playing it, and, since they realise it's not as easy as the fighters they are used to, they just go back to those. It seems like the easy games are the ones that are the most popular."

Hart feels that mastering such games is worth the investment. "For me, I'd like to see people give more time to the harder games, because the merit you get is worth the training you put in," he said.

Developer Sega AM2 implemented some significant changes in VF5FS, the most notable being the simplification of "throw-break" inputs. Ryan described the move as "not necessarily a bad thing", while he remains optimistic that it will help draw players to the game.

Keita "Fuudo" Ai disagrees, slightly. The Japan-based player has an impressive list of achievements, including wins at international Virtua Fighter tournaments, finishing first in the Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition tournament at the 2011 EVO Championship series, and recently beating Ryan Hart at Shadowloo Showdown in Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown.

Fuudo feels that the changes in Final Showdown caused him to "lose a bit of motivation, in the sense that a lot of people at the top level can still win and compete well, without putting in much effort".

To him, previous iterations of the game "rewarded people who actually worked and learned the system". Despite the latest game's new user-friendliness, he's not confident that the tweaked system will introduce new players, though he conceded that the character roster is "a little more balanced" than it has been, previously.

Australia's Daniel "Berzerk" Chlebowczyk has represented his country in both the Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive series. He believes that the latest version "incorporates the best things from the previous ones; it's been a really smooth progression".

"In football codes, you have AFL, Rugby, etc. But, in terms of the world game they call 'soccer', the beautiful game, I kind of see Virtua Fighter that way," he said. He described Final Showdown as "a refinement" and "the most fair and balanced, out of them all" in comparison to other fighting games.

"There is a distinct lack of flash, explosions, sparks, circus animals, and lasers, for a very good reason. It simply doesn't need them."

Fellow Australian, Mike "Iron Myke" Abdow placed third, overall, in the VF5FS tournament at Shadowloo. He is a long-time competitive player and one of the minds behind fan site, virtuafighter.com.

He described his recent experience with the newly revised version as enjoyable, and praised "the way the characters move, attack, grapple, [and] get hit." He added that the overhaul gave the game a "huge improvement, aesthetically. No VF game has ever looked this good."

Like his fellow competitors, Mike acknowledged that the latest version had been tweaked to even out the game's notoriously difficult learning curve, but he also noted that VF5FS still retains the complexity that the series is known for.

"There is a distinct lack of flash, explosions, sparks, circus animals, and lasers, for a very good reason. It simply doesn't need them," Abdow explained. "Instead, you'll find a comprehensive, and, most importantly, consistent set of rules that govern how things work. It's just you and your skill that's the ultimate deciding factor."

All of the players GameSpot AU spoke with agreed that while the series may be more difficult to pick up than other fighting games on the market, the reward--once you've taken the time to learn the game's intricacies--is well worth the investment.

Ryan Hart was quick to point out, "If there's ever been a time to get involved with Virtua Fighter, it is now. It's on console, it's new, and it's fresh. What more could you want?"

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown launches in the second half of 2012, on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

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Discussion

53 comments
johnny0779
johnny0779

Virtua Fighter regardless of which revision/version comes out, it's just too slow of a fighting engine...any of the Dead or Alive games are 10x faster than those.

The1stFishBone
The1stFishBone

Virtua Fighter 4 is the only fighting game I ever thought was worth playing.

emerin76
emerin76

I really liked the reversals. I played Aoi...bring on the aiki jujutsu! bloody hard. I gave up on it because trying to execute the correct reversal was too difficult for my older hands to master.

white_wind
white_wind

"professional players"? ,  since when geekism became a profession? jk

DSkinMasque
DSkinMasque

This is the one fighting game that I can still take seriously.  It is the only one that has not been numbed down...or changed completely to cater to anybody but the fighting game enthusiast. 

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

I never got into Virtua Fighter for a few reasons. !.) you are confined to a box shaped arena.2.) no option to disable the timer, in any I have played.3.) the life gauge was entirely too small. I like a fighting game with HUGE arenas to fight in, and it HAS to be infinite time on the level. I don't want to stop fighting half-way through, that's just stupid. Lastly, I want a HUGE life gauge, I am playing the game to PLAY it, not be done with a fight in 2 min. It should last at least 10. Writing this out, I am remembering why I loved Dead or Alive 4 so much.  

King9999
King9999

Can't wait for FS!  Gonna take my Brad online and take down some fools!

undeadgamer183
undeadgamer183

It is the hardest fighter out there and I too feel like that's the one and true reason some people can't appreciate the VF series.I was one of them until VF5.I gave it time,and I still play the game to this day.

CeZar_87
CeZar_87

Sega seems to be the one of the only companies left who will give us a product, and not milk us for money through DLC. I hope I can say the same with this fighter. Capcom will re-release the same POS 20 times within 2 years, and charge for what is nothing more then what should be unlockables. 

Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

lol 1st screenshot looks like Ken vs Ehonda. 

megakick
megakick

Why does fights look rehearsed, doesn't even look like fun.

Virtual Fighter: Quick Time Events

nate1222
nate1222

I still feel that the Virtua Fighter series is one of the most underappreciated in gaming. Loved Fighters Megamix for Sega Saturn.

nitefox1
nitefox1

I love this game, i think its the most realistic fighter out there, but one thing i never got is why why why won't they add story elements into the game like cinemas or even script that get you more attached and involved into the characters. I think that would go a long way in peaking interest and expanding fan based. other fighting games do a much better job at promoting characters. Virtua fighter, unless you go out of your way to do research, you just are playing with a bunch of people you know nothing about.

scrumpy777
scrumpy777

After watching the trailer I'm a bit disgusted with the way they try to rip of the new SF feel with the paint and all. In SF4 it was novel, classy and made sense, here it comes across as a cheap ripoff to get a bit of recent SF popularity.

 

Anyway, hope the game itself will be good.

BSEE10
BSEE10

SEGA needs to get this straightened out. It looks crappy to me.

zato_number_one
zato_number_one

Fave fighting game and always will be. VF FOREVER!!!!

Corrupted_Wolf
Corrupted_Wolf

Even though Tekken Tag 2 is out in Japan, this is still my fighting game of choice.Who cares if no one's playing it anymore.... even at the Sega gamecenter at Akihabara...:( 

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

Extremely fun series and I slightly disagree that it's technicality is what drives people away.  Yes it's the deepest fighter on the planet if you want it to be but, you can also have a good time and learn the basics if you're a button masher (though this may depend on which character you're playing).  Anyways I've always attributed Virtua Fighter's smaller fanbase to the less flashy, more realistic approach it takes towards animations and moves, which sucks because it really is the most satisfying fighter once you learn even just the basics.

scrumpy777
scrumpy777

For me Virtua Fighter was always a bit awkward to watch. The fighting engine is top notch, really demanding and rewarding. But the awkward animations always threw me a bit off. Especially when you compare to silky smooth Tekken animations.

 

Gonna pick this up anyway. I wish it would come out on PC ... :(

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

to me, the biggest reason why this fighting game is near the bottom is 1. there isnt much help out there as far as websites go like tekkenzaibatsu is to tekken and shoryuken is to street fighter games. 2 is that from vf 4 and 5, i don't see a storyline...its just and arcade mode...so that doesn't compel me to invest in a game with no kind of background.

Shaolinstylez
Shaolinstylez

Virtua Fighter games have always been my favorite fighting games. They've always been so balanced but they do have steep learning curves. The fights always seem so much more fluent and satisfying than anything else in the fighting game genre.

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

my favorite fighting game series ever! god, can't believe it's been 6 years since the last VF game on console... Definitely picking this up day 1! 

G-Lord
G-Lord

I guess I should get back into VF. Played VF2 to death, but this is already a long time ago...

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

Great article! Really enjoyed reading all of the thoughts on VF5FS. I REALLY can't wait for this game.

 

I mean, 2 new characters, 20 all new stages, countless new moves, 6 costumes per character with over 14,000 items to customize them with, an awesome tutorial mode that explains the game, and near lagless online play?

 

And that's just the stuff I can remember right now! Damn, I'm so hyped for Final Showdown!

jubdeidamasta
jubdeidamasta

 @DSkinMasque It's funny people try to hate on the VF series. When it has been one of the most balanced fighting games ever made.

johnny0779
johnny0779

That's why I think the Dead or Alive Series is certainly the most approachable fighting game, even if you never played fighting games before, DoA makes you feel like a pro at it.

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @megakick lol, are you talking about the video at the top of the article? That's a cinematic trailer. The actual game doesn't look like that when you play it. Look up "VF5FS" on youtube if you'd like to see some actual gameplay.

Godokuno_Dan
Godokuno_Dan

 @nitefox1 It's because SEGA is cheap with their budgets on console ports. The only way VF  will ever have a story mode is if there is a story mode in the actual arcade version.  (  The so called"movie ending" in VF3 TB was just the promo CGI for the arcade version of  VF3.   ) Then the home team can straight port it.  In Final showdown, they had to  squeeze every cent  out of their meager budget to put in a Dojo mode with record feature, and online lobbies.  Online lobbies barely made it in the game, there was no money left for a cinematic story mode, sadly.

scrumpy777
scrumpy777

@nitefox1

 If someone wants to talk realistic, there is nothing there that would even stand close to real fighting, where most encounters doesn't last longer than 30 sec and usually finish with 1-3 blows.

 

Closest you've got to realistic is UFC. VF ia pure arcade. Hardcore and demanding, but not realistic in one bit.

 

If you want to try realistic, go to a few boxing or kickboxing (or muai thai) lessons and you'll see what I mean :)

 

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @scrumpy777 You make a good point, but it also make me wonder what a SFEX might look like in this generation. I'm pretty sure Capcom has thought about releasing the titles on Live or PSN.

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @BSEE10 Well, if you're talking about the graphics, remember, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is a downloadable arcade title on XBLA and PSN. It's gonna be less than 2 gigs in size. So it can't exactly compare to how DoA5 looks or something :)

Godokuno_Dan
Godokuno_Dan

 @scrumpy777   Tekken animation looks like TEAM AMERICA   puppets in combat. WTH are you saying?   Tekken doesn't even have an evade system, it is light years behind VF. It's garbage, all you have is a few moves with evade properties.  And its a 20 year old game, it's a joke.  VF has successful evades, failed evades, defensive move evades  offensive move evade attacks.  moves with dodge properties.  Tekken is not worth playing for more than 30 min because 8-way run is just for show and all linear attacks track you when you 8wR.  Garbage. 

nitefox1
nitefox1

 @jsmoke03 I agree the lack of of story mode is the biggest issue to being approachable, i dont understand why they dont just add a  few cinemas or endings, i still love this game and thing its the best but that always bothered me

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @jsmoke03 Actually, there's a VERY helpful community website for Virtua Fighter. It's http://virtuafighter.com - The site's been around for over 10 years now and the people there are very helpful towards new players.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

 @G-Lord wow that was a long time ago...you mustve either played in the arcades a lot or saturn

Nodashi
Nodashi

 @Virtua_Souls You're guessing the near lag-less online play, right? No game is ever launched on the premise of having terribad netcode, yet mOST fighting games are a drag to play online. I know I just gave up on Camcom titles, I don't even bother anymore.

Dark_Arcitekt
Dark_Arcitekt

 @Virtua_Souls Pretty much how Virtua Fighter 5 was.I don't really see what is new outside 2 new characters, 20 new stages, and maybe a new flow chart of some moves.The graphics will be top notch i'm sure and the game play flawless as always, but I just feel like i've been here before.

nitefox1
nitefox1

 @Godokuno_Dan damn, that explains it lol. I think it would be good marketting and would help a lot of casual people get into it if there was some kind of story or better ways to relate to and get attached to the characters...

nitefox1
nitefox1

 @scrumpy777 when i say realistic i am referring to the actual styles and movements, as well as the applications of the styles, not the played matches themselves in comparison to real fights. For example i practice mixed martial arts and one of the styles I train is judo, watching Go's applications and techniques actually gave me some interesting ideas to utilize in real life. Some of his techniques are actually picture perfect and can be utilized to model your techniques after. Alot of Aoi's akijutsu applications and reversals are very creative and feasible as well. Especially if your looking for ways to defend  against strikes that transition into grappling.

DSkinMasque
DSkinMasque

 @HonorOfGod 

Judging by that avatar can you honestly believes that man cares about gameplay, strategy or depth?

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @Nodashi I'm just going by what the developers have said. The netcode is an update to Virtua Fighter 5's for the 360. VF5 is known to have awesome netcode, it has the least lag that I've ever experienced in an online fighter. Sega has said that even with Spectators watching the matches in VF5FS, the connection is still great for the people playing.

scrumpy777
scrumpy777

 @Nodashi Dude what ? SF4 has the best netcode I've ever experienced. I've spent months on the 360 and now playing the arcade ed on the pc (which I recommend anyone to try in 3D ... it's amazing 0_x).

 

Also spent a good amount of time recently in BlazBlue, KOF13 and Tekken on the 360, didn't get much trouble, though SF is smoother. 

 

I suggest you check you're internet connection. Maybe router isn't setup like it should or your ISP is playing up.

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @Dark_Arcitekt Well, yeah, not everything will be different. It IS an update to VF5 after all :) People who have played it at events always say how fun and different it plays from VF5 though. Also, it's not just a few new moves. Each returning character has DOZENS of new moves or changes. So any character that you liked in VF5 will be a lot more fun. I don't know, that + everything else that's new seems like it's worth $15-$20 to me!

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @Dark_Arcitekt Well, yeah, not everything will be different. It IS an update to VF5 after all :) People who have played it at events always say how fun and different it plays from VF5 though. Also, it's not just a few new moves. Each returning character has DOZENS of new moves or changes. So any character that you liked in VF5 will be a lot more fun. I don't know, that plus everything else that's new seems like it's worth $15-$20 to me!

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

@Dark_Arcitekt

Well, yeah, not everything will be different. It IS an update to VF5 after all :) People who have played it at events always say how fun and different it plays from VF5 though. Also, it's not just a few new moves. Each returning character has DOZENS of new moves or changes. So any character that you liked in VF5 will be a lot more fun.

 

I don't know, that plus everything else that's new seems like it's worth $15-$20 to me! Anyway, if you want a list of all the known changes (so far), check out this thread: http://virtuafighter.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/321717/1

nitefox1
nitefox1

 @scrumpy777 most games just make their moves to be cool, whereas virtua fighter actually models their moves off of real styles and techniques.

G-Lord
G-Lord

 @scrumpy777

Same here. Had it on PC. Protip: You can still play it online via TCP/IP ;)