Virtua Fighter is one of the classic fighting game franchises, having been around for the better part of 2 decades. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown definitely fits with the “Classic” motif — “classic” as in “feels old”. Final Showdown is an “updated” rerelease of Virtua Fighter 5, but unfortunately it doesn’t appear that SEGA put very much emphasis on adding enough new content to the original title.
VF5 : Final Showdown has a large cast of characters and a wide array of arenas, but unfortunately too many of the characters feel and play as re-skinned versions of each other without bringing much diversity to the game play. Though the arenas are different in appearance, they don’t add anything outside of the size of overall play field, much like classic fighting games of the past. The graphics, although sharp, lack much interest and can feel a bit outdated. The stale visuals and characters, along with sound effects that feel as if they would fit in better with the 1993 original, hold this title back from really giving gamers any type of immersive feel. More often than not I found myself bored with what I was looking at.
For every fluid, fun “Drunken Master” combo, there is an infinite barrage of flat punches and kicks.
When the graphics and sound hold a title back, it’s the normally gameplay that can lift it back up. VF5 is definitely a button mashing fighter in the most direct sense, but that makes it easy to pick up and play. It doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from the previous releases of the franchise, but its multiplayer mode can be very fun and challenging, offering both offline and online play. The single player mode, on the other hand, almost feels as if it was an afterthought. The computer AI can be spotty at best, as I found myself winning my first 5 matches without losing a round (in Normal mode) by simply pressing the same kick button over and over again.
The occasional match would provide a challenge, but for the most part I breezed through on Normal and quickly had to beef up to Very Hard mode for a challenge. The single player mode gives us a straight forward Tutorial and Arcade mode, along with a “Time Attack” mode which follows us through several matches, keeping track of our overall time spent to complete. There is a “Title” mode that presents a series of challenges such as having to block several attacks, but unfortunately, much like the single player mode, blocking is rarely very fun.
VF5 does still maintain the main fighting aspects that made the franchise what it is today. If you are a fan of the genre you could certainly do worse, but as is the problem with many re-released games it tends to feel tired and more of a stop gap gaming experience before the next true Virtua Fighter than anything else.
This review is based on a copy of the game sent to SideQuesting by the publisher for PSN.