Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown Review: A Classic Given New Life

by in Fighting Game News | Jun, 2nd 2021

Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown is here on PSN, so of course we’re going to review it! There are a few important caveats going forward though. As of right now, it’s only available on PS4/5, but it is free on PS+ this month if you have a subscription. So you can get this game for free right now! Another important note before we go forward, this is more like the Arcade version, instead of the console version. You’ll know why soon enough. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the minds behind Yakuza and Judgment rebuilt Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown, so when I got the go-ahead to review it, I was very excited.

I’m a fan of the company and have reviewed many of its games. I’m not the biggest Virtua Fighter fan ever, but I appreciate it as one of the best 3D fighters on the market. It’s been about fifteen years since we’ve seen a mainline title, but how does this one hold up? Honestly? Pretty well, if you ask me. For reference, I played this on PS5, with both the PS5 controller and the Razer Panthera EVO arcade stick. I was pleasantly surprised to see it working on the PS5. 3D fighters just feel right on a stick.

A Quality Tribute To A Classic Fighter

This is a very stripped-down version of Virtua Fighter 5, and that doesn’t negatively impact my review. Sure, I loved License Challenge and the Quest Mode to unlock cosmetics, but they aren’t important to the overall game experience. This feels like it was aimed more at people who just want to battle each other. The people who loved the arcade experience or missed out on it and want to experience it for themselves. As far as modes, there is an Arcade Mode where you battle against NPCs, a solid Training Mode, and the Online Lobbies.

Virtua Fighter 5 is already a very accessible, easy to get into the fighter. It plays excellently in the Dragon Engine by RGG Studio. Quick and responsive, I’m loving how Virtua Fighter feels on the PS5. As someone who hasn’t played the game outside of Yakuza in near a decade, my first stop was the training mode. I was reminded just how intense the combos for the game are, but it reminded me of what I needed to do. You can also just free train, to figure out how each character plays and figure out who is right for you.

There isn’t much to say about the Arcade Mode other than that it’s fun, and it’s exactly what I remember from Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. It’s a sound way for me to just try a character and see if what I learned in training sticks in my brain. The biggest part of the game, the reason this all exists though, is Ranked Mode. Yes, we know it doesn’t have Rollback Netcode. It’s an important part of fighting games these days, and you can learn why here.

Was I worried? Yes and no. The original Virtua Fighter 5 on console had arguably the best netcode of any fighter in its era. How was it when I played yesterday? Amazing, that’s what it was. I just hope that doesn’t change when the game goes live today. I played Ranked Matches, and in a variety of Lobbies. I made sure to find people with bad connections, to make sure I could gauge how it felt. My PS5 is plugged into the router, so I’m not playing on wifi though. Even on the worst signals, I played fine without any issue. There was a tiny bit of lag in the ranked lobbies, but it reminded me of the most important thing I learned about fighting games. The online lobbies saw a major overhaul from the original for sure. It shows the win percentage per character, and when playing ranked, it shifts you over to the training mode to practice while you wait on a match.

The best players/most challenge is found in the casual lobbies. That’s where people are doing their best to get better in my estimation. Personally, I didn’t have any issues in online matches, try as I might to find bad connections, but a few others reported there were some Underwater Matches (incredibly bad lag). I love how many options you have for the casual lobbies. YOu can set up double elimination and round robin tournaments, and it has full spectator mode. You can change lobbies on the fly too, and that’s amazing.

My experience online was very positive though. It was also gorgeous. The graphical enhancements were amazing, especially the water visuals. The stages looked great, and the characters looked amazing. Some characters looked better than others, but that’s not a negative.

Worth A Try? ⅘, Will Play Again

Virtua Fighter 5’s accessibility is one of the reasons that make it worth playing. It’s also free this month on PS+, so heck, there’s no better time to pick it up! Movement feels slightly stiff, but not as much as Mortal Kombat feels to me. All of the characters were fun, and I had no issue finding casual lobby matches. There were a ton of them, no matter what time of day I played. It was really nice to see, if I can be honest. Ranked Lobbies took a while, and when I finally got one, it was someone with like 30 wins in a row, and I had… one. That was less enjoyable, but I prefer to play in lobbies. The netcode isn’t perfect, it’s stripped down in terms of game modes, but it’s still a lot of fun.

I would enjoy playing this with my friends, on my live stream, anywhere. It felt like the arcade action I missed from my earlier days. Is it the best fighting game on the market? It’s not, I’m sorry. But is it a quality update/re-release of a much-beloved fighter? That it most certainly is. There was also a mode we couldn’t access during the review period, so perhaps we’ll be getting updates for the game very soon.

Early access was provided by SEGA for the purposes of this Virtua Fighter 5 review.


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