Virtua Fighter 5 isn’t a flashy fighting game, especially when you put it up against the likes of fighters that have come in the five years since its PS3 launch. But then, it’s always been a game that values form more than flash. In other words, while Marvel vs. Capcom is an explosion of cartoony color and Street Fighter IV is loaded with impactful effects and animations, VF5’s charm comes from playing it. We got hands-on with the new version recently.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a digital-only release that’s coming later this summer to consoles. It’s essentially translating VF5 R, a 2008 Japanese arcade exclusive, to Xbox 360 and PS3. While this isn’t news for ardent VF fans privileged enough to play the game extensively in Japan, the features and roster are all new for fighting game fans around the rest of the globe. There’s no downsizing on hand here. Instead, it’s a content-complete version of the game with some tweaks to the formula, including version-exclusive characters like Taka-Arashi from VF3 and new character Jean Kujo. We played a few rounds with Jean, and found that he's a versatile character with a decent variety of charge moves. If we had to draw a comparison, his style and techniques are reminiscent of Akira's.
Instead of the bland grid background of the practice arena, there’s a Practice Dojo, which gives feedback for attack types. We played a few minutes of it, largely to try to knock an opponent over the railing, and it feels like a much more solid tutorial for gamers who’ve been knee deep in Tekken 6 and the Soulcalibur sequels instead of Sega’s tried and true formula. That said, just like the disc-based iteration, we’d recommend some fighting sticks if you don’t have any yet. The layers of depth and complexity to VF5’s intricate rock-paper-scissors fighting require the precision of arcade sticks instead of your controller.
In addition to new characters, Final Showdown also features some tweaks to VF5 Online’s matchmaking. The matchmaking is more honed for entry-level gamers to find people of their skill level, instead of suddenly matching against competitive and top-tier players.
Otherwise, there’s not much else to report, as Sega is being coy with release dates and further details on the game's online features, merely telling us to expect it in Summer 2012. Fortunately, it will be available worldwide, so you can look forward to players across both the Pacific and Atlantic crushing your ego online.