The lights are on
Virtua Fighter 5 is approaching its third iteration since releasing on the 360, PS3, and arcades in 2007. This new version, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, benefits from a new character, gameplay balancing, and a tutorial mode that is actually helpful – something hard to find in today’s fighters. I got the chance to go a few rounds with the game during GDC 2012. The straightforward title may be the easily accessible downloadable fighter you’ve been waiting for.
The downloadable markets are mostly populated with older fighters like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Soul Calibur, and the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, however, offers gamers an enhanced, digital version of a fighter that released earlier this generation to glowing reviews. Fortunately, this version benefits from all the balancing tweaks and other changes that have previously been reserved for Japanese arcades.
Sega has incorporated new costumes, arenas, and animations to breathe some new life into this version. This is a much more subdued experience when compared to the glitz and over-the-top aesthetics of Capcom’s fighters, but it still looks solid.
To start things off I chose newcomer Jean Kujo, a French fighter with white hair and a crazy red outfit. Jean brings the total number of combatants up to 19. Despite being unfamiliar with the series’ control scheme, I was able to get through matches with a mix of mashing and deliberate combos. The game only utilizes a guard, punch, and kick button, which makes learning the basics easy. However, diving deeper you’ll discover each direction of the analog stick or joystick alters each move. After a few rounds I got a good feel for the rhythm, and was successfully juggling opponents in the air and knocking them out of the ring.
My favorite aspect of Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is the user-friendly tutorial mode. Similar to other fighters, you work through moves and combos of progressive complexity, learning each characters’ rhythm as you do. But unlike many other fighting games, each combo is accompanied by a video showing how a specific flurry of punches is supposed to look. This removes the pain of guessing timing windows in practice mode. I wish more fighters would steal this idea.
Not impressed by everything I’ve mentioned thus far? Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown also includes simplified controls for newcomers and online play for one-on-one battles and tournaments. Sega says online pugilists can look forward to matches with "little latency." The game looks like it could have a lot to offer Virtua Fighter fans, or general fighting enthusiasts looking for a disc-free game that’s always ready to go on their console. Look for it this summer on PSN and XBLA.
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