I’m not shy when it comes to fighting games. I’ve played them for years upon years and have loved every minute of them. Actually, let me rephrase that statement. I have always loved 2D fighting games. I have tried 3D fighters in the past, but could never really get into them. That may have all changed now that I have played Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown.
Final Showdown is the revamped version of the 2007 Virtua Fighter 5. It has all the bells and whistles of the Xbox 360 game, but with revamped fighting mechanics. All the animations and graphics have been updated for an improved experience. Granted, the updated visuals are smoother, but they still look a little dated. It’s nothing too bad once you see how the fighting actually plays out. There are also two new fighters to Virtua Fighter 5 that have been added to Final Showdown: Sumo wrestler Taka-Arashi and Karate master Jean Kujo. The voices sound almost muffled at times. The acting isn’t bad, but some of the sounds just feel off to me.
For those of you that don’t know, much like me, VF5:FS runs solely on three buttons: punch, kick, and guard. It may seem simplistic, but this is one of the deepest fighting games I have ever played. The depth comes from both the inputs you have to make to pull off combos as well as the positioning of both characters. Timing plays a huge part in the process as well. Side stepping at just the right moment can make or break a fight. Due to the more realistic nature of the game, many of the normal “air juggles” you see in other 3D fighting games are not present in VF5:FS. Sure, you may be able to hit your enemy once or twice while they fall to the ground, but there are no infinite combos.
The game features a very nice interactive tutorial for players new to the series and even players new to 3D fighting games in general. It covers the basics of each fighter and the more complex techniques that will aide you in your matches. There is also a full training mode for you to practice freely and a special training mode devoted to learning specific character’s moves and combos. The game does a very good job of teaching you what you need to know.
The single player modes are divided into a standard arcade mode, score attack mode and a trials mode that has you playing a ladder of increasingly difficult foes while giving you special objectives to complete while doing so. Since Final Showdown has special DLC packs for the costume customization options, there aren’t any new items to unlock.
Of course, no fighting game in this day and age is complete without online multiplayer, and Final Showdown has a very good system. You can play in ranked matches and player matches. You can open or join a room that allows you to compete against other players coin-op style with the winner staying in while losers rotate out. For the most part, I had no problems finding a match and no difficulty with connections and lag. The game also does a very good job of dropping you into matches with people of your skill level.
I was reluctant to play Final Showdown due to my past experience with 3D fighting games, but now that I’ve given it some time to sink in, and with the help of the tutorial, this is one 3D fighting game I can really get behind. If you give yourself time to learn the mechanics, the matches you play will be as rewarding as they are impressive to see play out. The fact that it is only $15 is just icing on the cake. For a very inexpensive price, you get a polished, well made fighting game that is well worth the money for newcomers to the series and the Virtua Fighter veterans alike.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.