Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown Review: A trip down memory lane

If you find the name familiar, there was a previous release entitled Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown for Xbox360/PS3 consoles back in 2012. The game also appeared as a playable port in recent Yakuza series.

PRICE: $38.70 (PS4/PS5, Main Game + Legendary Pack, PS4)
GENRE: 3D Fighter

Ultimate Showdown boasts an overall better outlook, derived from the reworked character models and stage backgrounds. On PS4, the game looks decently bright and colourful. Textures on characters are visible and their attire sway naturally but certain animations can still be improved.

The difference in graphics quality between Final Showdown and Ultimate Showdown. (Photo: Sega)

If you have a PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) membership, this game comes free this month. It unlocks the full roster of fighters, but it does not include any alternate attire or custom kit. Instead, the option to customise is disabled. I feel it does not hurt to provide a few to give players some freedom to customise, or at least provide a peek at the available items available in order to entice a purchase of the downloadable content.

PS Plus members need only to shell out less than S$13 to unlock the Legendary Pack for additional content. But those without an active membership will have to pay close to S$40 to unlock the full game and content bundle. Since an active membership is required for online play, it is better to go for the first option.

+ Full roster unlocked from start
+ In-game video feed from other players
+ Extensive downloadable content

– Lack of custom features under free version
– Limited console support

While there are about 2,000 custom items, 180 background music and audio, some choices of costumes, stage locations and spectator stamps in the Legendary Pack, the major highlight is being able to change your character to the original character models.

Customise your character with costumes and etc. (Photo: Sega)

Virtua Fighter started its roots and gained popularity from the arcade centres, but times have evolved. As we observe a second year of social gathering restrictions, the best platform to convene together is online.

Ultimate Showdown is designed to support this notion very well. The moment you get to the main menu, an in-game screen streams matches from other players. This is very intuitive for those who desire to pick up tips about playable characters and learn from how others play – a pastime that is common in today’s social media space.

You can also watch (via spectator mode) and play by joining or creating online rooms. Depending on the number slots available, players can watch and take turns to go head-to-head. While watching, you can comment using static audio-infused emotes or predefined texts. The lack of custom chat helps to avoid abuse, but the main game comes with only a choice of four emotes, something that can be expanded only with the Legendary Pack.

Watch via spectator mode or join in the fight in rooms. (Photo: Sega)

The game touts online play for up to 16 other players. Using a wired broadband connection, I tried creating a room with twelve slots and spectator mode on. When there were ten players in the room, the performance suffers from lag and became difficult to play. Most of their ping status are red so they could be located further away. When I lowered the number of slots to six, the proceedings become much smoother. At the time of writing this review, there is no option to set other specifics.

Like all Virtua Fighter games, Ultimate Showdown is easy to pick up but difficult to master. (Photo: Sega)

Like many other games of similar genre, Ultimate Showdown is easy to pick up but difficult to master. You can set the difficulty from Easy to Very Hard as you get familiar with the controls and button combinations.

If you have a second controller, set up a local match through Offline Versus. This is perfect to introduce to a new player or have few rounds with members in the same household. This is as close you can get to reliving the fun days at the arcade during the limited social gathering restrictions in this pandemic.

Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown revives a nineties classic that has a nostalgic appeal to veteran gamers but at the time of launch, it remains exclusive to PS4 and, through forward compatibility, to PS5 players.

RATING: 8/10

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