Also available on: Xbox 360
Virtua Fighter 5 was nothing short of a top-drawer brawler when it touched down on consoles in 2007, but a lot has changed in five years. Sega's latest addition to the series is a revamped version of the game with online multiplayer thrown into the mix; but will that be enough for it to hold its own against the likes of Street Fighter X Tekken and Mortal Kombat?
The early signs are promising. Virtua Fighter 5:The Final Showdown offers a roster of 20 playable characters (two of which are new), each with their own combat style inspired by a real-life counterpart. On top of that, it's easy to pick up and play, with a comprehensive tutorial mode laying down the fundamentals of the game's combo-based intricacies.
An extra coat of polish isn't quite enough to breath life into the game's cast, so the Arcade Mode simply washes over and leaves no lasting impression. There isn't much in the way of storyline either, but such things are merely a distraction when it comes to fighting games, so this one should be weighed and measured on combat mechanics.
In this department, Virtua Fighter 5:The Final Showdown delivers. The series has long prided itself on being as simple to pick up and play as it is strategically rich. Bouts are fast-paced and free-flowing, with combos serving as the centrepiece. These are carried out via punch, kick and guard combinations, so there are no tedious directional commands to memorise.
There's an arcade feel to it on the surface, yet playing through the effective training modes is a must if you want to get a handle on the tactical aspects and tackle it on the advanced difficulty settings. At times, it requires the mentality of a chess master, calling upon players to counter opponents' manoeuvres with deft precision.
So the potential for some engaging clashes is there, but this is far from a flawless victory. Arcade Mode's challenge level feels inconsistent for starters. The AI will barely offer any resistance for several matches on the bounce before you're hit by a jarring difficulty spike. Outside of this mode, there isn't a great deal of content for players to tackle solo.
So that just leaves online multiplayer to shoulder the responsibility of delivering longevity, and Virtua Fighter 5:The Final Showdown does enough in this department to strike a chord with fans. Eight-player lobbies support the online play, which runs relatively free of lag. Taking on another human player is the definitive way to play as none of the AI-related gripes apply, and the option to save replays of your knockouts only sweetens the deal.
Virtual Fighter 5: The Final Showdown shows its age when compared to triple-A contemporary fighters, but it works well as a budget-friendly downloadable release. While the single player modes don't offer a wealth of longevity, there's enough bang for buck value to be found in the online multiplayer to keep the fanbase happy.