Originally released at a time when Razr flip phones were all the rage, the world of Virtua Fighter 5 makes its return with the release of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios and SEGA’s Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown. Does this title still have it after all these years, or have Akira and his friends lost their magic touch?
Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown Review
Arcade warriors weaned on six button layouts will be thrown for a loop at the three button control scheme found here – at least at first. Consisting of a guard, a punch, and a kick, what seems simple hides an incredible amount of depth.
Combos are just the start; there’s also varying throws, down attacks, wall moves that are dependent on the arena, back attacks, jump attacks, and even moves that come after certain moves. For the dedicated among us, feats of glory like Akira’s guard-breaking “Toryu Tenshin Hazankai” will keep players training until they can pull each one off with ease.
There’s no need to memorize pages of combos if you don’t want to though; Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown allows those with a firm grasp of the fundamentals to stand their ground. The ultimate goal is to find an opening, and punishing whiffs and poorly timed blocks is the key to success. Those that wish to learn all of Wolf’s wrestling grabs can certainly do so (and look cool while doing it), but its core foundation allows for all sorts of players.
Fighters live and die by their roster, and the 19 base characters of this title offer up a healthy amount of variety. Drunken kung-fu, lucha libre, kickboxing, and judo are just some of the practices players can dive into. The fact that there are no newcomers takes some of the wind out of this version’s sails, but there are enough variations to keep things interesting.
Unfortunately, those flying solo won’t have much content to keep them busy. A standard Arcade Mode against AI opponents, an Offline Versus mode, and a Training Mode with basic Tutorial, Command Training, and Free Training options are the only things available. The Quest Mode from the original release is MIA, greatly hampering its replayability. What is here is serviceable, but the series has previously seen much more single-player content on tap.
Rather, the key selling point of Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown is its online play. Ranked Matches are the main attraction, with players rising through the ranks and taking down all those that stand in their way. To keep things as streamlined as possible, players can choose the type of ranked players they come across, their connection quality, and their opponents’ disconnect rate – a nice touch.
Unfortunately, the netcode in this title could use some work. We faced a bit of lag and some disconnects from the 30 matches we played, despite the fact that we had a wired cable Internet connection. Finding an opponent was a straightforward affair, but the core experience could have benefited greatly from rollback netcode. What is present here gets the job done, but something as key to the experience as this could have been greatly improved upon.
The three button setup of Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown has stood the test of time, providing an incredible amount of depth with a strong emphasis on the fundamentals. It’s just a shame that the spotty netcode drags down the overall experience; those looking to seek out new challengers best come with a bit of patience.
This review of Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown was done on the PlayStation 5 using the PlayStation 4 version of the game. The game was freely downloaded with a PlayStation Plus subscription.
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