Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown
Publisher: SEGA Europe LTD
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 1/6/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is a fighting game in the Virtua Fighter franchise. It features mainly two-dimensional combat with the occasional movement into the Z-axis. With a wide variety of characters and customizable options, does Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown stand out from the crowd? Find out in this Rapid Review.
High Octane Combat
Fundamentally, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is a two-player fighting game. Players have one health bar and once it depletes, they lose the round. Games are traditionally best of five, meaning whoever wins three rounds wins. This system is easy to understand and will immerse old fans and new fans alike. I found that the default settings were perfect, as the fast-paced rounds would often swing in one direction once someone got a lead, but with five matches, there are plenty of opportunities to recover. These settings can be changed but I spent most of my time playing with the default settings.
To supplement the ruleset, this title features fast-paced combat. There are combos to learn, advanced techniques such as rolling, dodging, and throw counters, and plenty of movement options. For fans of fighting games, there is substantial content to learn and master. Even for those who are less skilled, such as me, in Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, there is an abundance of helpful tools to assist. There is an expansive tutorial that goes in-depth on the mechanics featured in the game. Moreover, there are individual tutorials that dedicate time to explaining each character. These tutorials did an excellent job at explaining the fundamental mechanics of this title as well as when to use certain techniques. For advanced learners, all combos are listed in the pause menu. There is a training mode where they can experiment without the restrictions of a guided tutorial.
Teach me Sensei
Even if there are advanced techniques, and ample opportunities to practice, players will only want to play the game if the characters are fun. To me, each character felt unique and was fun to play. The roster ranged from professional wrestlers to old drunks. Moreover, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown had a balance of both female and male characters. I think every player will find at least one or two characters that they enjoy. Not only can you select your fighter, but with the Legendary Collection, players can customize the costumes for their fighters and even dress up in each character’s voxel art. These options helped me bring my personality into the character and gave me a lot of freedom. I liked the character design featured in Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown.
Unfortunately, one thing I did not find in this title were flashy special moves. Unlike the special moves seen in Mortal Kombat 11 where players will wield fireballs, tornadoes, and insects, the advanced techniques in Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown are simple, and to the point. The characters are agile and do backflips and cartwheels, but they do not have unique special abilities. Personally, I wished for greater visual differences in these move sets. Sure, it is a matter of preference, but these unique properties help differentiate characters and ensure the game feels unique. There is no super meter either, which can help bridge the gap between lesser skilled players and masters of combat, even if just for one round. This is not an inherently bad thing in game design (and thus it will have a minimal impact on the overall score) but I still thought it worthwhile to mention.
Multitude of Modes
These characters can all be used in various modes. There are online ranked matches, tournaments, and private room matches for battles with friends from across the world. These are all self-explanatory and only function with access to PlayStation Plus, a subscription service from Sony. Unfortunately, at the time of review, the tournament mode is not available. Another feature was the local multiplayer. This was my primary mode of choice, and I found the energy that came from playing in the same room greatly benefitted my gaming experience. Finally, there is an arcade mode. I was a bit let down by this mode because it is simply seven consecutive fights. I got to choose my difficulty but other than that, it was robotic. There is no lore development, character endings, or even a rewarding completion bonus. Despite this letdown, the modes provided offer plenty of ways to test your skills.
I found that there was a lack of single-player offline content. There was no story mode, no single fight against the computer, and was disappointed that the only way to play the game in single-player mode was either in the training room or in the arcade mode. If you have no interest in playing modes other than online matches or local offline, this will not be a detriment to your enjoyment. However, I wished there were more options for me to do alone.
It is tricky to have a fighting game without arenas to fight in! The developers of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown include a large variety of stages. One of my favourite things was that each stage acts differently. Unlike many two-dimensional fighters where the stages are simply atmospheric, each stage brings a unique experience. On some stages, there were high walls that prevented me from pushing my opponent too far but then on others, I could push them into a lake for an automatic victory. The dynamic and varying stages were a highlight in the title.
I found the combat and gameplay mechanics enjoyable, fulfilling many of my needs. However, as a casual fighting game fan, I look for more than just tight controls. I enjoy seeing rivalries between characters, hearing voice lines before each fight, and learning about the fighting game world. Unfortunately, this was one of the areas where Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown faltered. Each character was a fighter, but the game never showed their life before fighting or their motivations for doing so. Even the brief voice lines, as seen in many fighting games would help bring life to these characters. There was no overarching story, which does not bring down the game (because it is primarily a fighting game) but the lack of personality in the characters was unfortunate.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown features excellent visuals. Being able to customize the player character, as well as use assets from the original games, is an excellent touch. I thought the environments looked great too. One thing to note is that after each round, there is a replay of the last couple of seconds in the fight. This was a nice touch, as occasionally there is a cool combo or moment that should be highlighted. Unfortunately, this effect wore off quickly. Having it play after every match was tiresome. It was just another cutscene to skip in between matches. It was not largely detrimental, but it did detract from the fast-paced gameplay. The sound design also features tracks from previous games. The player can select which soundtrack to use in the options menu. I really liked the music design because the music tracks are high energy. Fighting games are intense, and the music brought out my energy and competitive spirit.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is an excellent fighting game in terms of mechanics, especially for those who love fighting in one-on-one matches. Unfortunately, it left me wishing for more single-player content and personality for the characters. Regardless, this game is a polished title that can be loaded up quickly for a couple of quick rounds every now and then. I really enjoyed my time with Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown on the PlayStation store here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.