Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown Review (Xbox360)

These days the genre of fighting games is much like that of the first person shooter, in that it is dominated by a few select titles. In terms of Shooters, Battlefield and Call of Duty are the obvious names, and while they are similar in terms of gameplay, they differ greatly in execution and feel.. Similarly, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Tekken are the renowned names in the fighter genre, having been around since the dark ages of the arcade. And, like the aforementioned shooters, each game has a certain play style that a gamer can relate to, be it the button-mashing craziness of Mortal Kombat, or the guard-breaking combo-chaining mayhem of the Capcom games.

Then come the fighters like Virtua Fighter. The controls are more fluid and down to earth than that of the aforementioned games, but with that comes a certain drained excitement. There are no x-ray moves depicting your opponents skull crumbling beneath your knee, nor an infamous special move such as the Hadouken. Games that feel similar to the Virtua Fighter series like Soul Caliber, or Dead or Alive and are more renowned for their scantily clad character roster.

While Virtua Fighter 5 does boast a large and varied character roster, the level of nakedness is toned down somewhat. While the characters are all some form of fighting game cliché; army sergeant, ninja, old man, ripped blonde guy, ripped old blonde ninja who works in the army, there is enough variety and choice in the roster that it feels fresh simply due to the numbers. The graphics do the characters justice, with fluid movement meeting vibrant colours to make the fights come alive. Not only are the arenas and characters designed well, but their plethoras of costumes are too, separating the game from others aesthetically if nothing else.

While there is an arcade mode, virtually no attempt at a decent story has been made, and it offers little to no difficulty so, like most games out there nowadays, the value for money comes from the multiplayer. The game has both on and offline play, and allows you to customize the time, amount of rounds and health of each player before going on to select your character, but a single 1v1 match is all the game offers. While Mortal Kombat had a huge variety of game modes to play through in both single and multiplayer, and that ‘Kustom’ wheel you spun to add random handicaps to matches, you get the feeling that Virtua Fighter 5 was released just for the sake of it, and no love, care or attention was made on the game other than making it look pretty.

For example, to block, all one has to do is simply hold down the square button, and while there are grapples that can be used against a blocking opponent, there are very few guard-breakers in the game. Meaning that pulling off an amazing combo that is simply batted aside, and then being immediately countered becomes an annoyingly common scenario. Other than that, gameplay does feel fluid, and it is very satisfying to pull off a successful combo that eats chunks out of an opponents life bar. While you won’t find magic or super powers in Virtua Fighter(or sentient fighting trees for that matter), what you will find is a variety of different fighting styles to keep gameplay fresh. Playing with two different fighters does feel very different in the timing of the moves and speed in which they fight, and you’ll soon lean towards a favorite fighter, be it slow and hard, or fast but weak.

Good luck reading the moves lists though, as they are almost in comprehensible. Off the top of my head, I honestly can’t even begin to try and describe some of the stances and moves while still sounding politically correct, so I won’t bother, but what’s obvious is that the guy whose job it was to translate everything into English was obviously not in the office when he was needed.

I think what I’m trying to say is that Virtua Fighter 5 is alright. If you like the series, or enjoy games like Dead or Alive, then this new addition is something that you may enjoy. On the flip side however, the fact that it’s very similar to these games might mean that it's not worth the extra cash. And if you’re a fan of the balls-out craziness of other fighters on the market, then you might find this particular title a bit tame. All-in-all, if you have a spare £20 and want a new fighting game to play with your mates, go for it. If not, don’t worry, you’re not missing out on anything special.

Top Game Moment: Inviting a few friends over and feeling like a boss while I pwned their arses.

Platform Played: PlayStation 3

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