|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Release: Q2 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p||Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
In the early days of this console generation, SEGA released Virtua Fighter 5. Though the gameplay system was rather complicated and the overall balance somewhat questionable, the game was well-received. It had a magnificent tutorial that many say stands as one of the best examples of fighting game tutorials today, as well as a cast of interesting characters with fighting styles based on real martial arts. It was the beginning of this generation's love affair with fighting games, and, if it had never been released, we may not be playing games such as Tekken 6 and Street Fighter IV today.
For as inspirational as the game was, its lifetime was actually rather depressingly short. The real fighting game fever of this console generation didn't really pick up until later on, and many fighting gamers decided to stick to old favorites rather than abandon their game of choice for Virtua Fighter 5. However, with the advent of Street Fighter IV, UMvC3, Tekken 6, SoulCalibur V, BlazBlue, and so many others, there is no better time for gamers to fall in love with Virtua Fighter 5 all over again. This is why Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, a new update to Virtua Fighter 5, is coming this summer.
Now, Final Showdown is not a new game. Outside of a few balance changes, the core gameplay of Virtua fighter 5 is retained in this new update. However, several changes have been made to make the game appealing to new players. Two new characters, Taka-Arashi and Jean Kujo, enter the lineup. New stages and music have also been added, and the entire game has been given a graphics and lighting tune-up.
The gameplay engine itself has been largely changed to be more welcoming to new players. The input window for commands is actually much larger, and the controls actually feel more responsive. Moves are now much simpler to pull off, allowing low-level players quick access to the entirety of a character's move set. In fact, the game itself seems to be built more around teaching new players fighting game theory than making sure that they know how to input commands 100% frame perfect.
Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—the rest of the game basically remains unchanged. You'll find the same mode selections, the same story, the same training mode, and more. There are rumors going around that SEGA will update the game's tutorial mode with all the emergent knowledge that has come out since the game's release, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Believe it or not, this isn't the first update to Virtua Fighter 5. Another update came out in Japan, but SEGA did not believe that it was worth bringing over to America. The scene for the game in America was only a fraction of the size it was in Japan, and the fighting game scene in general was just not producing sales numbers that would warrant another disk release. However, with the success of "follow-up" games such as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend in both Japan and the U.S., it's the perfect time to bring over Final Showdown. It's already been out in the arcades for some time, and, if you are interested in becoming a master of the game, you can actually find some pretty in-depth tutorials and match videos on YouTube.
Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown has one other thing going for it. It's a digital-only title. When it comes out, you will be able to download it directly to your hard drive and even share it with a friend who you are looking to get into the fighting game scene. Pricing and release date have not yet been confirmed, but it has been said that Final Showdown's price would be "competitive" considering its downloadable nature. Hopefully "competitive" means "super cheap," because I'm not entirely sure I want to pay full price for another game for some balance refinement and a couple new characters. I've already done that far too many times with games like Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.
Either way, Final Showdown is looking to be the definitive Virtua Fighter 5 experience. If you are looking to get into the game for the first time, re-ignite your Virtua Fighter flame, or just want a new 3D fighter to toy around with, this may be the game for you.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: January 19, 2012