Virtua Fighter V: Final Showdown

Arun Subramanian

Final Showdown presents an unapologetically pure and amazingly deep style beneath its relatively bare bones appearance.

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown

Publisher: Sega
Players: 1-2
Price: $14.99
Platform: PS3 (Reviewed), 360
ESRB Rating: Teen
Developer: Sega-AM2
Release Date: 2012-06-06

Despite the death of the arcade and some genuine lean years for the genre, the past few years have represented a renewed interest in fighting games. As with many well explored genres, there are different styles of fighting games that exist on a spectrum ranging from arcade to sim. While franchises like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter have always contained fantastical fight mechanics with their inexhaustible supplies of magical projectiles and teleportation, others like Tekken have largely constrained themselves to a more subdued approach. But while the fighting game genre has never really included a simulation game in the sense that titles like Forza Motorsport aim to represent driving in as realistic a manner as possible, it's almost certain that the Virtua Fighter series is the closest thing to it.

Virtua Fighter, long more popular in Japan than the USA, is a unique fighting game for a number of reasons. As compared to other prominent fighters, Virtua Fighter is much more nuanced and

deliberate. It's more difficult for the casual observer to detect the styles of play (zoning, rushdown… etc.) that generally define the tactics in the genre. Really, the only observable widespread fighting game convention that it adheres to is the notion of juggling your opponent with strings of hits that they cannot avoid. As such, it's a series that is much harder to get into than its competitors. But its simple control scheme belies an almost inconceivable depth.

Further, in the time since Virtua Fighter 5 came out, the resurgence of the fighting game genre has largely favored chaotic arcade-style mechanics. Most popular fighting game these days tend to incorporate esoteric meters to augment typical offensive and defensive styles of play and allow for late round comebacks. Tag-team mechanics are also very common, tasking those seeking to dig into the evolving meta-game of any given title with attempting to uncover the relative strengths and weaknesses of particular combinations of characters. As a franchise, Virtua Fighter has always eschewed these kinds of mechanics, and as such, it comes across as a relatively Spartan experience. But its pure focus on one-on-one, hand-to-hand combat is thoroughly satisfying for those that can dial into its particular approach to the genre.

The series' most recent full effort, Virtua Fighter 5 was released to acclaim in 2007. As is often true with fighting games (particularly ones that still see arcade versions released in advance of home ports, as is the case with Virtua Fighter), updated versions were released as well, culminating in Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown in early 2011. Now Final Showdown is available as a downloadable title for XBLA and PSN.

In the translation to a downloadable version of the game, perhaps the most innovative single player feature was unfortunately cut. Quest Mode (first introduced in Virtua Fighter IV allowed players to square off against AI that was specifically modeled after prominent VF fighters from the Japanese arcade scene. While some new modes have popped up to take the place of Quest Mode, they're undoubtedly less interesting and don't spice up the single player experience nearly as much. Given how technical a game this is and how full featured the tutorials for more recent Virtua Fighter titles have been, the tutorial mode here seems scaled down as well, perhaps another casualty of the size limitations of downloadable titles.

Despite the fact that Showdown is a refinement of a six-year-old title and that the fighting game genre has seen a fair number of quality titles released in that time, it still manages to hold up, largely due to its incredible depth. The fighting game community's esteem for the title is undeniable, given Final

Showdown's appearance on the roster of the 2012 EVO Championships, the annual juggernaut of fighting game tournaments. There's little question that Virtua Fighter fans will pick this up, if they haven't already, particularly given the budget price and the fact that downloadable titles are easy to buy on impulse. But it remains to be seen whether or not Final Showdown will see appeal among

a more casual fanbase, even those that like fighting games in general. But perhaps at this point, given that the genre has been successfully resuscitated, casual acceptance is not of the same concern as it was a few years ago.

When the modern renaissance of the genre began with the release of Street Fighter IV, a new generation of fighting fans had to be bred. Now that they have been and the genre is seemingly quite popular again, it will be interesting to see how well Final Showdown performs financially. Although the tweaks that have been made to this version of the game are substantive, they are largely under the hood and are noticeable only at a considerably high level of play. Beyond that, as good as the title looks, the age of the core technology driving it does show against the backdrop of more modern fighters.

Nevertheless, Final Showdown presents an unapologetically pure and amazingly deep style beneath its relatively bare bones appearance. There is an enormous amount of gameplay available here for the price of entry.





Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.


Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.


Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.


2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.


Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez


Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.


"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.


The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.


Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.