REVIEW – Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (XBLA)

Straight Forward

VF5

Virtua Fighter 5 was originally released on 360 and PS3 way back in 2007.  Proving its age, one of the highlighting features was online play.  But can a re-release of a half-decade old fighter go toe-to-toe with the other fighting games of 2012?

Unlike Marvel Vs Capcom, Street Fighter X Tekken, and even Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is a straight forward fighting game consisting of only a few buttons.  Instead of working to build up a super meter for one powerful and game changing attack, Final Showdown plays more like the original Street Fighters in the way that each attack is deliberate and technical.  However, even though there are only a couple of attack buttons and one block button, the game is not without strategy and depth.  In fact, Virtua Fighter 5 is one of those games that will take a little bit of time to learn but will take forever to fully master.  Most modern fighting games can be intimidating, with complicated combos, power meters, and swapping out fighters, so it is somewhat refreshing to play a more basic fighter in this modern age.  Newbies should be able to jump in and button mash to victory whereas experienced fighters should be able to gracefully take down opponents with pose and fluidity.

Besides being cheaper than its disc based counterpart, this Final Showdown version has received just a few enhancements that veterans should be able to spot whereas new comers would probably not notice a difference.  There are just a couple of new playable characters to the already beefy roster but the gameplay seems to have been slightly upgraded.  Animations seem to be a bit more fluid, but more importantly, hit detection seems more accurate too.  High attacks now look and act like high attacks and low attacks function more like low attacks thanks to some tweaking.  In other fighting games, like Soul Calibur, sometimes high looking attacks will register as a low attack which is deceiving, frustrating, and cheap.  Since the entire fighting mechanic is based around low, medium, and high attacks, getting these details right is critical.

Even though the game engine seems to have been tightened up, the AI difficulty is pretty mindless.  I was able to complete stages in the Challenge Mode, where specific tasks must be completed during a match to succeed, by spamming a single attack.  Arcade mode offers different difficulty settings so players can bout with a higher challenge, but at least newbies can feel like pros with little to no practice on the lower settings.  Unfortunately, at the time of this review, I was unable to fully test the online component.  However, from the few matches that were available, netcode seemed stable with no lag or delay, something that the original title lacked.

The graphics in Final Showdown are worth talking about as the environments look vast and are built with detail whereas character animations move fluidity, but the character models show their age.  Also, everything seems to have this annoying subtle glow feature that detracts from the animations, especially during the opening fighting stance scenes.  The soundtrack is also nothing special and characters rarely speak, and if they do, the mouth animations are not exactly the best.  It is also annoying to always watch the replay at the end of each round and although load times are on the short, it would have been nice if they were more infrequent.

For $15, Final Showroom is actually pretty light on extra bells and whistles.  There is an option found on the main menu to customize a character, but it is grayed out.  This is most likely for future paid DLC packages of new character skins, new playable characters, new modes, and even new stages.  Having two new playable characters and re-balanced gameplay is nice, but there really isn’t a new outstanding must have feature.  The tutorial mode is detailed and the Challenge Mode offers some replay value, but again, Final Showdown prides itself on being straightforward and bare bones; characters do not even have endings once the Arcade mode is completed!  However, Achievement hoarders are going to love this title as most Achievements can be unlocked quickly and with minimal effort.   The 400 gamerscore divided between the standard 12 unlockable Achievements means that players will also get more for their buck.

Final Showroom is definitely not a bad game as it is welcoming to newbies with its plain gameplay whereas pros will enjoy the subtle technicality behind the fighting engine.  The character roster is large but fans of modern fighters might lose attention quickly as there are no power meters to fill and no Hadokens to throw.  But in the least, check out the demo as the simple gameplay is a throwback to older fighters and might actually seem refreshing.

6.5/10

Not As Flashy As: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

Also Try: Skullgirls

Wait For It: Killer Instinct 3

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