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7/19/2012

REVIEW: Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (Xbox 360)



The last version of the fifth entry in the Virtua Fighter series has made it to consoles in digital form. And it really couldn’t be better, with a starting price of fifteen dollars, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is quite possibly the best 3D fighter in this generation. It is available for both the PS3 via PSN and the Xbox 360 via Live Arcade and it features a lot of new content when compared to the physical Xbox 360 version (commonly known as “version C”).

For starters, Final Showdown has two new characters: Sumo expert Taka-Arashi returns from the VF3 roster and a brand new karate fighter called Jean Kujo who resembles a usual Final Fantasy male, until he starts kicking his opponents’ asses in a very, very cool way. Both of the new fighters are awesome and feel extremely unique. But besides Taka and Jean, the other 17 from the old roster were subjects to many changes. All of them have new moves, while other useless ones where removed, their frame data and attack attributes changed a lot to the point where some of them feel completely different from version C. Especially El Blaze, Aoi, Eileen and even Akira.

There are several new game modes like Tutorial where the game gives you several lessons that are more than welcome to understand the rules of the game. Which are very complicated at first. Tutorial mode offers the basics of striking, throwing, sidestepping, movement and even how to make combos and counter hits. Visiting it occasionally is vital to be successful in the game. There are other new modes like License Challenge and Score Attack which provide tons of fun for single player. Dojo mode is perfect for practicing either command after command or just do whatever you want and try new things against a certain opponent.

Sadly, Quest Mode is gone. That was a very cool arcade simulator that had players rank-up against AI opponents and was excellent for the single player experience. But Sega seems to have focused the experience in the Online and Offline Multiplayer. Versus mode offers the opportunity to fight against a friend with a second controller or arcade stick while the online modes are divided in three: Ranked Matches where players fight to earn points and get new ranks like 5th kyu, 10th dan, Berserker, Veteran, etc. Player Match is very similar except that there aren’t any points at stake. This mode is perfect for practicing a character you’re not very familiar with against a real opponent if you don’t want to play the AI. And finally Room Match is an unranked lobby system similar to DOA2U and DOA4 where several players join a room and they either play matches or watch other players fighting. Besides those three, you can access a couple of online leaderboards to see how many points you have and the number of wins you’ve scored and such.

In terms of graphics, the game didn’t get many upgrades from VF5O. And everyone must remember that this is actually a very old game, from 2006 so the graphics, while very good are nothing compared to the ones in most recent games like Soul Calibur V or Dead or Alive 5. Still, the animations, stages, textures in the characters and colors are very pretty. Final Showdown has about five new stages from the previous versions. As usual, some of them have walls while others are open and allow ring-out strategies to be used in the matches.

The gameplay is exactly the same as before. Like Dead or Alive, this game uses only three buttons: Punch, Kick and Guard and everything happens while using only those. Of course you can press two or the three at the same time for different actions. Using three buttons gives players a false sense of simplicity but Final Showdown is everything but a simple game. There are many, many rules and attributes to every action. There are different kinds of jumps, sidesteps, stuns, strikes and throws. There is very little guessing in the game and pretty much every action can be stopped by the defender by either blocking, back dashing, sidestepping or simply using a faster attack.

Unlike Dead or Alive, the game’s tools aren’t universal, which means that while all characters have punches, kicks and throws, only a few of them will get reversals, low throws, charged attacks, sabakis and other special tools. But in all honesty, all characters have more than enough things at their disposal to emerge victorious. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is an extremely well-balanced game and though there are top tier and bottom tier characters, it’s very common to see the bottom ones destroying the top ones both online and in offline tournaments. (A bottom tier character reached the Grand Final in EVO 2012).

As usual with all fighting games, there are easy-to-use characters and others who require better understanding of the game and harder executions. For example, fighters like Pai, Lau or Lei-Fei are not very complicated and feel perfect to start playing the game and understand it, while others like Akira, Aoi or Goh feel much harder to use. But of course, learning those and getting good results with them is extremely satisfactory. Besides, all the fighting game “profiles” are there. There are fast fighters like Pai, Eileen or Jacky while others are leaning more towards the grappler gameplay like Wolf, Jeffrey and Vanessa. Besides those there’s a ninja, a shaolin monk, a sumo wrestler and even a Mexican luchador for a total of 19 excellent fighters. Really, there’s a least one for you in the game.

The soundtrack is actually really varied, Final Showdown has remixes from every entry of the franchise and you can choose which playlist to listen to in your fights from the Options menu. Most of the songs are the usual fighting game beat but they’re not bad to be honest. The sound effects are very similar to the previous games, they’re not realistic or anything but they’re very cool and aren’t annoying. The quotes from the characters when they start a match, win and lose them are very silly and hilarious. Sometimes they’ll feel a little ridiculous but you’ll get used to them very fast.

There are a couple of DLC packs available for the game with hundreds of items to customize the outfits for each fighter. There are literally infinite ways to customize the characters and sometimes you can make them look like iconic characters from other games like Ulala from Space Channel 5, Ryu from Street Fighter and even Bruce Lee. But if you want a completely original costume, there are tons of shirts, pants, shorts, masks, shoes, skirts, bracelets, tattoos and many, many other things to choose from. Like in the last two Soul Calibur games, the customization mode is extremely fun by itself and watching the costumes people make and use online is really cool.

Finally, as all fighting games out there, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a game with unlimited replay value, there’s always something new to learn. Thanks to the very complicated mechanics and the extreme variety of fighting styles of each of its nineteen different characters. Whether you like ranking up online, playing friends offline or simply practicing to become good no matter what, this game will have what you need. The game’s complete price in PSN is 30$ while the XBLA version is 1200 alone and 3600 with all the customization DLC packs. This is definitely the best and deepest fighter out there and you should not miss it.

Pros:

-          The best fighting game system in the entire industry.
-          Extremely varied roster of characters.
-          Online modes run smoothly for the most part.
-          Customization mode is extremely deep and provides almost limitless options.
-          It rewards players for practicing and trying out high-level gameplay.
-          There’s no Story Mode.
-          Vast and varied soundtrack.

Cons:

-          The game is very hard to master.
-          Quest Mode is gone.

-          Graphics and Visuals………....9
-          Music and Sound Effects…......9
-          Gameplay……………………10
-          Replay Value…………….…..10

Overall Score……………….. 9.5 / 10

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