Welcome to the Kumite! Back again on consoles since its inception in 2006, Sega delivers Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown. This is more than just an incremental update compared to the last game. There has been mutiple changes throughout to delivery a more comprehensive and fluid fighter. Final Showdown brings with it new stages, changes to core systems, revamped movelists and animations, new character Jean Kujo and returning character Taka-Arashi, and (dare I say it) a great online experience.
Being offered as a downloadable package, the base game gains you the bare minimum of tools to enjoy the game. There is no customization but you have access to Type A and Type B costumes. You have all the fighters up front which is essential and the small offering of single player content. Among this is Arcade Mode, License Mode, and The Dojo. License mode is runs you through a gamut of fights which aren’t particularly hard at first but increase in difficulty as you progress while fulfilling challenges. The Dojo is where your Practice Mode, Command Training and Tutorial is located. For those familiar with the VF4:Evolution tutorial, the one in this game can be comparable but it isn’t tied specifically to a character. It covers many basic and advanced systems featured in Virtua Fighter while imparting knowledge that can be used with other fighting games making it a great introductory fighter as well.
The online experience is also something that can be considered the best example of how to properly do an online game. You are free to partake in ranked matches as you build your rank tier until you reach one of the god ranks. You also have the choice of doing player matches or creating your own room with up to 8 players. In my experience, on a good connection, the game felt almost as if there was no lag during matches and that I could react to my opponent how I would in an offline match. There are also some notable changes to how things are done pre-fight compared to other games. You are free to select your character before your match starts completely skipping the character select screen. You may also change your inputs as well including an on screen joystick to check your controls.
Overall, if you’re a fan of fighting games or Virtua Fighter, there is enough here to warrant your time. This is not the same Virtua Fighter you’ve played half a decade ago and for a price of $15, that is entirely acceptable for an entry into what I believe is one of the best fighting games of this generation. With 19 playable characters, 20 if you include Dural, you have plenty of characters to become accustomed with either behind the fist or in front it. Buy it if you can.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown PSN/XBLA ($15/1200MSP). Free for June for PS+ subscribers. Customization packs are available for each character at $5 a character or $15 for two separate character packs. 10 characters in one pack and 9 in the other. These will also allow you to see other players customizations as well. Having all costumes allows playing of the “Special Sparring” mode which pits you against a customized roster of fighters based on other players.