Game Review: Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown

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After a 5 year absence, Virtua Fighter 5 makes a return in a bite-sized form. Can this downloadable title actually live up to the lofty expectations of a loyal fanbase or is this one destined to be a second-tier fighting game?

At first glance when playing Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, you will no doubt feel underwhelmed when coming from a flashier fighting game such as Tekken or Street Fighter. It’s only after you give this game a chance and play it for a few rounds that you realize that the meat of this game is in its technical simplicity.

I’ve never been one to play many fighting games in the past, the genre has just never really appealed to me. I think the main thing in my case is that I’ve just never been very good at them. I tried Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown and gave it a few good playthroughs and I’m glad I did because it’s a very different experience from many modern fighting games. You’re either good or you’re not, you win based on skill and not on whether you can perform a special move and if you make too many mistakes, nothing is going to save you. While this may turn off some gamers, to me, it hits a niche that not many other fighting games can.

The textures definitely could look a little better than they do.

The 3 button (punch, kick, block) layout will be an instantly recognizable point of gameplay as soon as you begin any match in VF5:FS and will keep the most experienced player on his toes while allowing the novice player enough satisfaction by just experimenting with the buttons. You’ll get 19 characters to play around with in the game and there’s something for everybody from agile and speedy to tough and powerful, there’s no shortage of fighting styles to keep players busy and add variety. It’s amazing to see how some battles can be so fluid and back and forth until a timeout while others can end in just a  few seconds.

There’s a character and a fighting style no matter what you’re into or how you want to fight.

While a game like Street Fighter is more of an action game, VF5:FS plays more like a real fight. Obviously it’s still unrealistic in a lot of ways, there are huge combos that can be performed, and the animations can get a bit outlandish at times but, for the most part, it looks realistic compared to most fighters out there. It’s all about timing and knowing your fighting style and how to capitalize on it. Throws are done more simply now, balancing has been tweaked, and the combat feels a little bit quicker than in VF5. New players will have trouble in online modes because of the dedication of some of the hardcore players but, should be more than happy with the single player offerings.

Taka-Arashi makes his return in Final Showdown.

Visually, the game is starting to show its age with the textures not receiving much love in this update. The game doesn’t look terrible but, it could look a whole lot better. The characters look a little bit glossy and hair looks fairly ‘last-gen’ on some characters instead of free-flowing like it should. Environments are fairly simple with not much imagination. Most environments are made up of a large square, or a large square with some type of wall surrounding it. The walls create some cool opportunities for different gameplay mechanics with some MMA-like moves being able to be performed against the wall performing substantial damage if you pull them off.

If you’re new to the series, the tutorials provided will help even the most clueless player have  a very good idea of what they’re doing and just what they’re getting into. I was new to Virtua Fighter when I started playing VF5:FS but, after playing through the tutorials, I had a very good idea of what I was doing and how to pull off the different moves and combos that I needed to do. In Dojo Mode, you can play through each characters move list on a dummy which helps you know a little more about the character you’re playing with especially because of the plethora of fighting styles that are included in the game.

Environments could have been better imagined but, the game mechanics make up for any visual disparities.

At $14.99, the game is definitely a bargain and I’m betting that a lot of people thought this would be one of those $39.99 price point titles before the pricing was announced. The fact that it was released digitally was also a great idea from Sega considering not many people in the West have adopted this series as a go-to fighting game series, releasing it digitally puts it in the impulse buy category. The DLC is a little pricy but, still doesn’t come close to a full retail title. Overall It’s a great game with online battles, amazing AI, a fighting style for everyone, and character customization through downloadable content, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a must-buy for any fighting game fan or anyone looking to get into fighting games.

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