After nearly a decade of being absent, Virtual Fighter is finally back, although in the form of a remake. Is this the ultimate fight you have been waiting for? Find out in out Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown review!
Restoring a Classic
It’s crazy to think that it’s been over eight years since we last got a Virtua Fighter on consoles. In that time, we saw the release of not one, but now two new console generations, and while the series did have a bit of a life on mobile,
Truth be told, this could have been a direct remaster port of the original Final Showdown release, and I still would have loved it. Virtua Fighter has always had a soft spot in my heart, even if it never really made it big in the esport world when compared to fighters such as Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter. Perhaps it was due to its complexity, and not as near accessibility as the other two, but it’s always been a well worthy fighter to play.
The series first debuted back in the ’90s on the Sega Saturn, and it was the first fighter to ever feature 3D polygons. At the time, this was hugely revolutionary, a paragon shift, if I may say, that had many follow it soon after. Having 3D polygon wasn’t the only shake up though, as the game also allowed you to freely shift between planes. Really think about that: a game back from the ’90’ was pulling off something that even for today, many still don’t unless it’s a wrestling or an MMA-styled game.
The combat felt fresh and invigorating for the genre, and although I absolutely sucked at playing, I still found it to be extremely fun. That same feeling continued on throughout the next decades of releases, eventually leading up to Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown.
Arguably the series at its peak, Virtual Fighter 5 Final Showdown collects the best ideas from the long history of Virtua Fighter games into one ultimate package. For the time it was (and still is) considered to be the pinnacle of what all 3D fighters should strive to be. There really isn’t anything else like it in that regard to it’s unique combat, which is one of the reasons behind the many cries for a sequel.
So it’s not all surprising to see SEGA re-releasing the much acclaimed fighter, though instead of opting for a simple resolution and frame-rate bump, they have instead decided to give it a full graphical overhaul, giving a game ahead of it’s time a modern touch.
Now I mentioned that they could have just released this as a HD remaster versus remake, because truth be told, outside of the visual facelift there isn’t a whole lot new in this release. In fact, the gameplay and controls remain, for the most, identical to the original release. That isn’t to bark down on it, no, in fact, quite the opposite as it is surprisingly still top notch and goes unchallenged for a 3D fighter.
While it isn’t perfectly balanced (no game ever will be,) in comparison to say a fighter like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown at least makes every character feel viable. You could pick the lowest tier fighter and still manage a win against one considered to be in the higher tier.
Part of that is due to how accessible the gameplay is, as well as the strategic value from it’s dodging and side stepping mechanics. The series has always been a game of wits, who can play the right moves and think ahead enough to counter the next — a game of chess if you will, one filled with lots of adrenaline rushing punches and kicks.
Visually, I still think the original Final Showdown looks good, but the use of Yakuza’s Dragon Engine in the Ultimate release is a well put. Characters and stages all are refreshed with new visuals, having far more details than ever before.
It looks and feels great with it’s buttery smooth frame-rate, and even more online. Net code felt solid with no major input lagging in the matches we ran, a refreshing feeling considering how many other fighters suffer from those issues online.
Furthermore, the Ultimate version is filled with a ton of customization, though for long time fans you’ll notice it is less than previous iterations. More is likely to come in the form of DLC as this isn’t a direct port, meaning items need to be created from scratch. Still, while there is enough to quench anyone’s thirst one does have to wonder if calling this the “ultimate” version was really the right call, especially when you consider that the Kumite and Quest offline modes are missing in this release.
A Clear Victor
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate may not have been the announcement many Virtua Fighter fans were hoping to see for the franchise, but it certainly was a welcome one. What is considered to be the franchise’s best when it comes to exhilarating, smart and accessible combat, Ultimate Showdown proves that the series reigns supreme in the realm of 3D fighters. A classic re-energized with it’s visual facelift, Ultimate Showdown reminds us once more of why the Virtua Fighter series is so damn special. Hopefully this is a testing ground of some sort to pave the way to the much anticipated sequel.
- Gameplay that remains intact with the original release. It was ahead of it’s time then, ad still holds strong today.
- Visual upgrades, while not the greatest for a fighter, adds a nice fresh feeling.
- Performance smooth and the net-code is solid, setting the stage for a well populated competitive scene.
- Lots of customizations, though less in some regards.
- The offline Kumite and Quest modes are absent in this release.
- Clear push paid DLC
Review code provided by the publisher. Played on PS5. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.