Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown Review

Player(s): 1
Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (1-2), Online Multiplayer (1-2 players), Leaderboards, Download Content

Virtua Fighter 5 was first released in Japanese arcades in July of 2006. In February of the following year an upgraded version was released for the PS3 console. The PS3 version did not feature online play and it wasn't added later. In October of 2007, Virtua Fighter Online was released for the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 version featured a third revision of the fighting game and included an online mode. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is the most up-to-date version of Virtua Fighter 5. It is available on the PS Store and Xbox LIVE marketplace for $14.99 or 1200 points respectively.

Final Showdown includes the same features for both consoles. Both consoles now have online play with this latest version. Final Showdown ramps up the cast to a total of 20 playable fighters (including Dural). Taka-Arashi from Virtua Fighter 3 and a new character by the name of Jean Kuzo join the returning cast from the original Virtua Fighter 5. Taka-Arashi is a sumo wrestler and Jean Kuzo is a karate expert. Basically, the whole roster of existing VF characters are all back together once again thanks to Taka-Arashi's appearance in Final Showdown.

Final Showdown includes many changes to the existing cast from Virtua Fighter 5. There are a few moves that have been taken away, some moves have been added and some moves have been switched up a bit. For instance, Akira now has many extra striking moves and some of his moves have also been taken away. His frontal neutral grab has been changed. Wolf has a new frontal neutral grab as well and his giant swing now tosses an opponent in front of him instead of behind him. Other fighters have some changes also. Some fighters' move sets seem closer to the older game than others, but all fighters have some changes.

There is a total of 20 stages in Final Showdown. Ring outs are much less frequent in this version since most stages have some sort of blockade. The stage affects such as snow and falling flower petals are all still intact from the original games. The game features a few new stages along with all the existing older stages. The graphics for Final Showdown basically remain the same as in the original Virtua Fighter. I must say, in terms of graphics, for a six year old game, Virtua Fighter 5 stands up very well against modern 3D fighters, which goes to show how good it looked in the first place. All I noticed is the slightest blocky imperfection in some fighters from extreme close range, which is basically nothing considering the game's age. The camera in Final Showdown is zoomed in slightly more than the other Virtua Fighter 5 versions, so the fighters will appear a bit larger on the screen.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown screenshot 1

For single player mode, Final Showdown has an Arcade, Score Attack and License Challenge mode. Arcade mode is the standard arcade mode where a player challenges CPU opponents and works their way up to the final fight with Dural. Score Attack challenges a player to gain the highest score based on their attack combinations and how well they do in each fight - it's all displayed on the leaderboards just like in the Xbox version of Virtua Fighter Online.

License Challenge is a new mode that is sort of like an ongoing tutorial mode. A player will go through several missions and challenge a CPU opponent while having to perform certain tasks (3 striking moves, block 5 times, don't get countered, etc) and defeat the opponent. A player can raise their License in this mode after completing several missions. License Challenge really offers nothing new and is far from addicting like the original Quest mode in the PS3 and Xbox 360 version. Final Showdown includes no Quest mode. In terms of unlockables for single player, it has the usual unlockable Dural fighter for completing arcade, License upgrades through License Challenge and trophies/achievements.

For versus mode, Final Showdown has an offline battle mode and an online battle mode. Offline versus is the same as any ordinary local fighting game with the use of two controllers. Online battle has the usual Ranked Match, Player Match and Room Match (Lobbies). Ranked Matches allow a player to rank up with the usual "Kyu" and "Dan" titles based on winning matches. A player can choose from a list of ranked fighters to fight and their ranks are displayed beside their profile. While waiting in a lobby in a Room Match there is a Spectator mode, so you can watch players duke it out while waiting for your turn. Online lobbies can hold up to 8 players total. The online play was often smooth with only some minor lag at times when I tried it on both consoles.

A player can save and upload replays to the replay board. Other players can look on the replay board and watch these replays. The replays that can be watched have some highly detailed stats that can be pulled up. A player can pull up stats such as frame data and the command inputs that each fighter is inputting as they play. You can pull up two transparent controllers on the screen and actually watch every single input that each player makes. If one player keeps tapping a direction or button, you get to see that. It can also be made to show off frame data for each attack that is delivered along with whether the attack is high, low, mid or a counter attack. Replays in Final Showdown are great for the serious Virtua Fighter player.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown screenshot 2

The Dojo menu on the main menu offers a Tutorial, Command Training and Free Training mode. Free Training is your standard training mode with an opponent that you can control and practice on. A player can pull up frame data per move performed along with the usual command inputs. Command Training allows you to pull up and try out every command for each fighter. Tutorial mode will go over the basics of the game with a player. It will go through several basics such as forward dashing, striking modes, blocking, grabs, fall recovery, throw escapes, etc.

Out of all the fighting games I have played Virtua Fighter 5 has the most balanced feel to it. In Virtua Fighter 5, I never feel cheated from a player spamming one move over and over and I never feel that one character is far superior over other characters. It seems like every character is balanced and useful. I felt that way with Virtua Fighter 5 on Xbox 360 and I still feel that way with Final Showdown on either console. Whenever I lose a match, it's easy for me to go back and tell why I lost that match.

The graphics are basically the same as the last few incarnations of Virtua Fighter 5. There are no real enhancements with graphics besides extra stages and characters. The sound offers the usual menu sounds of Virtua Fighter that any fan is already familiar with along with some familiar stage music from the last few versions. The controls are still quite solid for a six year old fighting game. Virtua Fighter 5 has a slight problem with freedom of movement when compared to other 3-D fighters. Movement feels a bit sluggish and imprecise at times, but it is very minor and understandable for an older game.

All of the customization items that could be unlocked and accessed from Virtua Fighter 5's Quest mode are now sold as download content on the PS Store and Xbox LIVE marketplace. The customization items include many different items that were not included in the original Virtua Fighter 5. The customization for Final Showdown per character is highly detailed. You can make your characters look vastly different from their original appearance. Each customization pack has around 500 items per character and there are four additional outfit types - the standard game only has 2 outfit types per character.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown screenshot 3

If you plan on buying Final Showdown, it would be far better to buy all the download content items for each fighter. They are much cheaper in the two customizable packs on each online service. The customization menu cannot be opened unless at least one fighter customization pack has been downloaded. There is also a "Special Sparring" single player mode that is unlocked only after ALL customization packs have been bought. The Special Sparring mode allows a player to play through one of several lists of fully customized characters in an arcade ladder match (like arcade mode). You must also buy the download content to be able to see other player's customized characters in replays and in online modes. If you don't have the content, the characters will only be in their default outfits (type A or type B).

Even without the download content, at $15, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a great deal for an online fighter. To me, it is the best downloadable 3D fighter on the online stores so far, since I value Virtua Fighter 5 so much among other 3D fighters. This is PS3's first time to get an online version of Virtua Fighter 5, so the game should definitely look more appealing to a Sony fan, I am sure. I have tried out both console versions of Final Showdown and there is no difference in terms of graphics and how they play offline or online. To get the full version of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, it's best to pick up all the download content in packs. The download content is worth it if you're a big fan of Virtua Fighter.

The Good:
+ The most complete version of Virtua Fighter 5
+ Balanced character roster and two added characters
+ Many changes from the original Virtua Fighter 5
+ Highly in-depth replay feature

The Bad:
- Lack of single player content

Final Rating: 85%. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is one epic battle for those that want to fight online.


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