Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown Review

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown offers some of the best versus fighting on the market.

by

The modern renaissance of fighting games that began with the release of Street Fighter IV has had many positive effects on the genre. It has brought new players into the fighting game fold, and the increased audience allows for classic series that may have fallen by the wayside to be revived and put in the hands of new players eager to see the diverse breadth of experiences the genre has to offer. The original iterations of Virtua Fighter 5 released in 2007 struggled to make an impact: the original PlayStation 3 release lacked any sort of online play, while the Xbox 360 version debuted amid numerous other high-profile releases. Despite positive reviews, the original VF5 didn't make many waves.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown plays host to some of the most satisfying smackdowns in the genre.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown takes a different approach. Rather than being a full-priced disc release, it's a $15 downloadable title available through the PlayStation Network. Instead of emphasizing the single-player quest modes of the original release, the game is geared toward competitive play, with a robust online matchmaking engine and in-depth training and tutorial modes. You don't earn items to customize your characters in-game; you buy downloadable customization packs that contain hundreds upon hundreds of items, costumes, and colors for each fighter. To top it all off, the game engine has received a significant overhaul, making the game more accessible to new players while adding depth and gameplay tweaks that longtime VF fans will find refreshing. The result is a package that, while somewhat lacking in certain respects, represents a tremendous value.

At first glance, Virtua Fighter is deceptively simple: there are only three buttons (guard, punch, and kick), no super meters or other gauges, and rings of varied size and shape to fight on. Once you begin playing, however, the game's depth gradually opens up. The three buttons, used in tandem with certain joystick movements, open up hundreds of different commands for each character, with each individual skill having numerous unique properties and potential uses. Every character has a wealth of different strikes, holds, throws, and counters of varying heights, speeds, and damage properties. The skills are based (sometimes rather loosely) on true-to-life martial arts, so don't expect the flashiness of massive fireballs, energy swords, or divekicks from across the length of the screen.

The more-grounded basis of Virtua Fighter doesn't make the game any less exciting, however: matches are fast-paced, tense, and involve more up-close-and-personal beatdowns. The smoothness and detail of the individual character animations accentuate the thrill of combat; the sheer satisfaction of landing a particularly complex and damaging combo or a rarely seen, off-the-wall throw is immense. Characters also come with unique properties that affect the way they play: tiny luchador El Blaze can dash speedily around the ring, drunken master Shun Di gains improved moves when he's plastered (yes, really), and gargantuan sumo Taka-Arashi's massive size renders him harder to knock down and hit with combo strings, to give a few examples.

Shun Di and Lei Fei compete in the most epic Chinese martial arts bald-off of all time.

There's a lot to each character in Virtua Fighter, and thus the learning curve is a bit steep. Thankfully, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown offers robust training and tutorial modes to help both new players who are learning VF for the first time and longtime fans who might need to adjust to the gameplay changes from the original VF5. The tutorials start from the very basics of attacking, dodging, and guarding, and continue all the way to the new throw-escape system and advanced movement techniques.

Training mode, meanwhile, offers numerous ways to analyze and practice your newly learned skills, including numerous detailed input displays (complete with frame data for advanced players) and notations on how and where moves strike you or your opponent. The training dummy can also be set to react in a plethora of ways, including switching up command strings at random so you can practice anticipating and countering troublesome mix-ups. Replays of offline and online matches can also be saved, shared online, and carefully analyzed with similar tools to the training mode.

You certainly want to learn as much as you can, since Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown offers a considerable challenge both online and offline. The game lacks a single-player story or quest mode, instead offering more-personal improvement-driven content. Arcade mode is just that: a simple trip through a gauntlet of computer-controlled opponents with a credits roll at the end (as is typical for VF, there are no story scenes or character endings). Score Attack rewards you with points for clearing the stages as quickly, efficiently, and flashily as possible and includes online leaderboard rankings. License Challenge is similar to the random quest objectives that were given out during fights in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution; you need to not only beat an opponent but fulfill certain other objectives in the meantime (such as landing a certain number of hits or using defensive techniques).

Playing dress-up in VF5FS is lots of fun, but it comes at a cost.

Finally, Special Sparring is available to players who have purchased the downloadable content bundles and features fights against characters decked out in some wild, weird, and just plain awesome special gear. All of the computer-controlled characters in the single-player modes start off easy but become surprisingly smart and realistic-behaving as you progress. While the challenge is welcome, the lack of a story mode or a mode to earn accolades and items like the quest modes in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution or the original Virtua Fighter 5 is disappointing.

What Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown lacks in a single-player experience, however, it makes up for in versus play. Offline versus play affords you the usual settings of the genre, but it's the online matching that really shines. High-level Virtua Fighter play is dependent on extremely fast movements, and even the slightest bit of lag can throw off a person's ability to fight well. To this end, players' connections are synced up before a match starts and in between rounds, which keeps lag to a minimum. While the lengthy delay before starting a match online can be annoying, when you're playing a buttery-smooth match against someone on the other side of the country, it's worth it.

Casual match online lobbies allow for up to eight players each and operate in a format similar to that of traditional arcades: winners keep playing until someone takes them down or they step off for a while, while others can wait to challenge them and spectate in the meantime. If you're serious about leveling up and proving your worth to the greater world of Virtua Fighter, you can climb the ranks in ranked matches against opponents from around the world.

While online works well, it isn't always perfect: distance and connection quality still play a huge factor in determining how well online play runs against another person. Most matches are very good, but you still run into a few bouts where the lag has a noticeable effect on gameplay. Very rarely does the game sputter and slow down completely. In our tests, Xbox Live play felt ever-so-slightly smoother than PSN play did, with higher-rated connections cropping up more often.

This isn't quite what Vanessa was expecting when Goh asked her if she'd like to hit the dance floor.

There's a huge amount of depth to VF5FS on its own, but you also have the option to purchase packs of DLC containing hundreds of items and colors to customize each character with. The customization itself isn't quite as in depth as something like Soul Calibur V's Create-a-Soul mode (which allowed you to alter things like body type and object placement), but the sheer amount of stuff you get in each $5 character pack (or $15 for one of two different multi-character packs) offers a tremendous value when compared to other games of this type that charge $2-3 for static costumes.

Unfortunately, the DLC is the only way to gain access to these items--they can't be earned in-game. Also, in order to see other players' costumes in versus mode or online, you need to own the customization packs for their characters. Customization data isn't portable, either, meaning that when you go to a gaming meet or to your friend's place, you're going to have to whip up that awesome robot-suited Jeffry with a giant afro and a tiki mask you made at home from scratch again.

But even if you don't get the DLC, VF5FS offers some of the finest, most balanced, and most in-depth fighting on the market for a price that's hard to argue with. Each character is worthwhile, and you can spend weeks perfecting the use of a single fighter--only to go online and be greeted by another skilled player who uses your chosen character in a new and unexpected fashion. If what you want most from a fighting game is a deep, technical, and incredibly rewarding competitive experience, you can't go wrong with Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown.

The Good
Some of the richest, most complex fighting gameplay around
Solid online gameplay with well-done netcode
Option-packed customization DLC offers a lot of value
Offers some of the best tutorial and training modes in modern fighters
The Bad
Single-player mode is weak compared to previous iterations
No way to earn customizations without DLC
8.5
Great
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Discussion

41 comments
snaketus
snaketus

"No way to earn customizations without DLC"

I was looking versus fighters of this generations that I have might missed, and this is one of them. But the above sentence kinda made the decision to get it or not for me. These games is all about unlocking stuff, and if it's not there, no thank you. Maybe I add it to my collection some day, but not going pay very much for it.

romans1001
romans1001

I have virtua fighter 5 and its a cool game. I would purchase this game but to charge extra money for costumes instead of putting them in game is greedy and cheating the gamer. So Im not going to buy it. DLC crap like this is gonna hurt the gaming industry along with overpriced games.

LikeADragon
LikeADragon

It needs more modes...maybe as DLC or a massive update...besides that it's great

 

HatchetKill
HatchetKill

Virtual fighter has and always will be behind Tekken but in front of soul Calibur IMO , bit like megadeth always being in tha shadow of metallica

ForRealDoh
ForRealDoh

After trying to get into this game year after year since the first one , I still don't like it for many reasons , block buttons are lame , the combat is too spammy , and throws still don't work on an opponent that missed because of the dumb rule that you can't throw when your opponent is in an attack animation. AM2 was out classed when Tekken arrived on the scene and this never changed.

jeetomar
jeetomar

DLC is here to stay, but not me, i`m leaving videogames for good.

DLC, another word for stealing.

Jyakotu
Jyakotu

I would actually gladly pay $30 for a retail disc copy with the DLC already on there. I read somewhere you can buy it for $30 on PSN with all the DLC already unlocked.

CruiserCaptain
CruiserCaptain

"No way to earn customizations without DLC."   Well, welcome to the future. Great! I want to HAVE to buy dlc to get basic features enabled. I can't wait for games that just have huge chunks of main storyline missing until you buy dlc. 

Leu-kun
Leu-kun

I played it last week, and I thought the game was from first gen of this gen since it looks like crap and plays like crap, damn it, 8.5, really? I may give it a second try since I downloaded it already.

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

Is it still being offered as a freebie on PlayStation Plus? If so, I'll gladly pick it up.

 

 

-The-G-Man-
-The-G-Man-

The Bad:lacks some of the features of a full retail release

 

i think customization as DLC and less single player is justified for a $15 download, but that's just me...

lowkey254
lowkey254

I'll be honest, VF4 is a much better game. Not only does this game miss out on the customizing abilities that Tekken 6 offers, but it also lacks the ghost mode that VF4 offered. After downloading this I actually went out and bought Tekken 6, again, for everything that was missing in this game. 7.5 IMO.

o016945
o016945

This game is absolutely amazing. Playing online in room battles is a joy that put it above VF5 any day. There's something interesting about watching people play Virtua Fighter. Maybe it is because you can have several different styles played with the same character that keeps it interesting. This is not a flashy game, and the only people who complain about that, are the people not playing it. Its strategy and involvement is unmatched. It took me months to convince my Soul Calibur friend to play VF, and he finally gave it try, and it's all we play against each other. VF has mechanics that are timeless. It won't be surpassed IMO.

corteztheg
corteztheg

just trolling but i still say sega owes an explanation for why vanessa lewis was dramatically changed from a black to white or asia complexion.

aerobie
aerobie

Game of the year, right here!

maddog123
maddog123

I have played VF since its inception years ago. I've played every single iteration of the game except for VF3. I absolutely love this game. The new version is amazing.

Bobzfamily
Bobzfamily

I wish I'd gotten into fighting games awhile ago. Anytime I've tried out a title in the last few years since I started gaming I've found each insurmountably difficult with little tutorial options and given up out of frustration.

SingleFighter
SingleFighter

 @ForRealDoh Do you know how many frame throws execution in VF and Tekken ? And do you know how to cancel moves in Tekken and VF ?If you know this 2 basic system for this 2 different game, you shouldn't post that comment, :D

canderosn983
canderosn983

Maybe you should reconsider. Games today should be bought in pieces. Think about the COD players who may not have internet or those who don't wanna play the multi-player. Why pay $60 when there is a whole section you won't play, and vise versa? 

souther_hill
souther_hill

 @jeetomar  I hear you mate. Once videogames become completely dematerialized, I'm also leaving videogames for good. I like to TOUCH the things I buy.

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @jeetomar Good grief. Talk about overreacting. VF5FS's DLC is only cosmetic. It adds NOTHING to the gameplay. Sega is giving you the best fighting game of all time for $15, and you're complaining about optional item DLC? What's up with some gamers these days??

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @Jyakotu Yes, you can buy it on PSN with everything for $30, but only until June 19th, I believe. Also, the DLC isn't "Unlocked" in VF5FS. It IS actually downloaded. I know, because I got it all. Sega, ain't no Capcom ;)

-The-G-Man-
-The-G-Man-

 @CruiserCaptain darn, they didn't include the costumes. MY GAME IS INCOMPLETE. some people just have a fit every time they see "DLC" i suppose

Jebril
Jebril

 @CruiserCaptain I can...haha kidding I can sense your sarcasm. It's sad that video game companies went from having to earn content through the video game to having to earn the content with more money.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

 @UnwantedSpam As a former Gametap subscriber, and current 360 owner, that really is a GREAT feature of PS+. It would be nice/smart if MS copied it. Anyhow, yeah, its up for a month, so get it, play the heck out of it, and if you like it? $15 isn't much to pay at all! ^_^

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

 @-The-G-Man-

 Well, some people would've preferred to pay more and get more. I think Sega went this route since VF is a niche title, even among fighting fans (crying shame, that). I'm just happy to get it...

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

 @lowkey254

 VF4 and VF4 Evo was a high-water mark for the genre, IMO.

 

That said, I think the problem with fighting game reviews is that the true measure of a fighting game is measured years after the fact. Is the community still playing it? Have they destroyed the engine? Has it held up? Stuff like that.

 

I think for a $15 title, this is a bargain. I would've preferred VF5 have been upgradable to this, though :(

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

 @corteztheg

 Probably feedback from players. Notice that they also prettied her up compared to VF4? She has lighter skin, a bigger bust, softer features, and isn't ripped/muscular in VF5.

lowkey254
lowkey254

 @corteztheg I think they gave her more of a Beyonce skin lightener or something. She's still "Black" I guess.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

 @Bobzfamily

 Right now Skullgirls and Virtua Fighter 5:FS have the best tutorials. Skullgirls' tutorial is supposed to an excellent one for fighting games in general, actually, showing what and why you do things.

 

VF is probably one of the worst possible games to just jump into. The system is quite deep (even after some of the simplification changes they made), and like many 3d fighters all characters have extensive move lists and character vs character specific matchups. However, the tiers between characters (worst, average, good, best) is fairly narrow compared to other games, so its very well balanced.

 

Worth trying, IMO. Just take your time! I've been playing since VF1, and have loved it all these years ^_^

jeetomar
jeetomar

 @canderosn983 i agree with you, but try to understand that in this case, you are paying for customizations. That is nonsense because customizations should be a plus, a gift or maybe trophies as a replay value for the game. But the fact that you have to pay for character customizations. Well that's just GREED!!!

playa631
playa631

 @Virtua_Souls that's right, VF5FS is the greatest 3D fighting game of all time. just played an hour of it yesterday and i immediately felt the superiority over all of its predecessors. it's better than soul calibur 2, better than tekken 5 DR, it tops every other 3D fighter that were once hailed as the best.  

jeetomar
jeetomar

 @Virtua_Souls I really respect your opinion on the matter. But you know, i have been playing games since NES, and i'm very used to buy complete games. not pieces of it. 

Greetings.

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

 @chikahiro94 Yeah, the 12 or so free games being offered this month through PS+ actually motivated me to break out a promo code I got by pre-ordering Starhawk. :P So pre-ordering has it's benefits. xD

corteztheg
corteztheg

 @jeetomar then buy the complete vf5 disc, it is cheaper after all, got a preowned  copy for about 2.99 pounds.

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

 @jeetomar Well, I guess we'll agree to disagree here. :) Just so you know though, Sega had to go the DLC route with the items because they couldn't add them to the base game or VF5FS would go over the download limit. Games on XBLA (Which also apply to PSN with multiplats since both games have to be the same) can only be 2GB in size. That's it. The items make VF5FS nearly 4GB. So you see why Sega had no choice about the DLC. You could argue that Sega could've just made the DLC free, but there are just so many VF fans who want to give Sega more money ;)

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown More Info

  • Released
    • Arcade Games
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Virtua Fight 5 Final Showdown will contain a full overhaul of Virtua Fighter 5's mechanics, balance and animations.
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 208 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
    Developed by:
    Sega AM2
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Action, Fighting, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
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