Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown does not reinvent the wheel, opting instead to change the spokes to bring an aging classic to modern standards.
Sega returns to the ring with Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, its latest installment in the Virtua Fighter franchise. Developed by the original team at Sega AM2 alongside Yakuza series creators Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, VF5US marks the first installment in the franchise since Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown‘s release in arcades nearly 11 years ago. Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown chooses to return to the fighting game circuit in very familiar form by opting to bring the previous installment forward with a facelift and new features that bring the decade-old title to the modern era of consoles.
Players will take notice of the stunning graphical presentation brought on by the Dragon Engine, which sends the decade-old characters forward with a modern look. Stages have undergone a similar overhaul with the use of different lighting crafting a unique atmosphere for every arena in the game, adding a livelier feel to stages than the previous game. Virtua Fighter fans will immediately feel at home with the gameplay present in Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown. The game manages to be a complete 1:1 recreation of the previous release as characters, move lists, and controls have all been carried forward. Frame data and unique interactions between moves among the roster all remain as they were more than 10 years ago, impressively recreated in a new engine.
The game comes with a standard set of modes. Arcade Mode allows players to take 1 of the game’s 19 characters through a ladder of six opponents as well as a bonus stage against the franchise’s end boss Dural. Local two player matches are also available as well as a Practice Mode. Players are given a Tutorial based on the previous installment’s own, which, while nowhere near as extensive as the tutorial in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, provides an ample starting point for players to learn the game combined with the Command Training feature that has players run through the move list of their chosen character. Finally, Free Training allows players to customize their own training experience.
Virtua Fighter‘s lauded Customization returns once again, albeit in a much more condensed form than fans may be used to. With less customization options than were offered in VF5‘s vanilla release in 2006, there is a lot to be desired at initial viewing of the available items as numerous clothing and appearance items did not make the leap successfully. This may leave the door open for future DLC with the items having to be remade to accommodate the use of the Dragon Engine. There is also a mode that was inaccessible during the review period, hinting at further support for the title.
The modes receiving the biggest change are the online modes which have taken cues from Street Fighter 5 and Tekken 7. Players are given an in-game Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown profile which houses data such as their win-loss record, their best win streaks, rank per-character, and even their win percentage on a per-character and per-stage basis. Players are now sent to Free Training while waiting for a Ranked match, marking a much-needed QoL change to bring it up to modern standards.
Room Matches have received an extensive overhaul, allowing Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown players to create lobbies for up to 16 players to participate in casual matches or even creating a single elimination, double elimination, or round robin tournament with full spectator mode. Room Match also allows for on-the-fly customizing of the room without needing to recreate the room, a flaw from the previous release that is now fixed. As of this writing, the netcode’s performance is also a standout feature. The netplay proved to be incredibly smooth with tests done with players across the United States and Europe all providing a lag-free experience. Time will tell if this will remain to be the case at launch, but early tests prove to be promising for the game’s netcode.
Fans of the previous title will find more of what they loved in this installment. The franchise’s return on the PlayStation 4 with a visual update and a burgeoning suite of online updates and options creates an enticing package for both newcomers and returning fans alike. Launching on PS Plus further ensures a low barrier of entry for newcomers to the series. With Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, Sega bypassed reinventing the wheel and opted to instead replace the spokes with a much-needed tune-up and paint job for a faithful recreation of a fighting game classic.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown releases June 1st on PlayStation 4 as a PS Plus title and is playable on PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility. Screen Rant was provided with a download code for the purpose of this review.
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