Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, Jun 05, 2012 06:45

Having recently gained an increased interest in the 3D side of the fighting game genre, I was very eager when Sega sent along the latest update in the form of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown. It wasn’t immediately intimidating; the three button controls actually make for a very easy experience at first. Yet the further one digs, the more they’ll find the simple controls are just a prelude to incredible detail. While ’intimidated’ is a fair word to use, it’s quickly followed by ’rewarding’; the gradual learning process is very satisfying for those willing to stick with it.

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (Xbox 360)Like most games of this kind, the basic goal is to pick a character and punch your opponent’s character in the face until they stop moving. As a 3D fighter with a very loose basis in real-world martial arts plus a few ’performance arts’ like sumo or pro wrestling, the differences between most characters are subtle. Aside from the ones who fit into obvious extremes of speed or power (there’s nothing ’subtle’ about a 500 pound guy smacking his opponent around), most of the cast are seemingly modest variations between each other; the real appeal lies in understanding these little details.

You’ll need to have a good grasp of them, because the deepest fights are effectively ones of measuring your game knowledge and understanding your opponent. While fights start at some distance, once the first moves are made you’ll be in close combat and will likely stay there. At this point, you’ll be choosing which attack and defense options to use against what you think your opponent will do, and there is a huge emphasis on knowing which attack height to pick. Attacks hit high, mid, or low, and have corresponding defenses through the use of the Guard/Block button. You also have special evasive moves, and some characters have unique options. Throws are also included to hurt opponents who blocks too often, and they have their own series of defenses. It’s a lot to keep track of, but you’ll need to in order to consistently do well.

Choosing the right options will let you score some damage, and you might even start to push the enemy toward a wall or stage edge. This is good, since you can limit their movement options and put them at risk of even bigger wall-specific combos and might even score an immediate win via ring out. A smart opponent might be able to turn things around, but it won’t be easy; there are no Guilty Gear style ’Burst’ options for immediate escape, so the defender must commit to some kind of specific strategy if they want out of this dangerous situation. Put more broadly, victory depends on knowing both the engine and your character very well, then using that to predict your opponent’s choices. They’ll be doing the same thing to you, so the result is a deeply technical fight.

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Our Rating for Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown Review (XBLA)
9.0 Replay
Each character has a frankly stunning amount of depth to them, with huge move lists that you could spend a lot of time learning. If you like the basic mechanics, there will be reasons to keep playing, learning, and improving.
8.0 Graphics
Nicely animated, with plenty of interesting character designs and stages to look at. You won’t call any of this jaw-dropping, but it’s detailed and fine enough to look at.
7.5 Sound
Decent voice acting and sound effects are joined by a mixed (but mostly good) array of music.
9.0 Gameplay
Easy controls allow the inexperienced to at least do basic combos reliably, and those interested in really exploring the game will find it has an excellently designed attack/defense system that rewards you for learning more and more about any given character.
9.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
Pretty much the entire point of the game, whether you’re playing online or locally. Smooth netplay means even those without nearby opponents should find someone to play with. This is a straight-forward versus experience, but an excellent one if that’s what you’re interested in.
9.0 Overall
Well suited to both casual and intense play, though it may overwhelm those who normally put in a little study time with fighting games as opposed to being very devoted to it.

Rating: 5.0, votes: 5

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