This weekend, I got a chance to catch up with SEGA in order to try the final build of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, and it was rather impressive. Frank Hom, the Sega of America’s producer for the game, sat down with me to explain all the new additions the new update has to offer.
Not only has the game received several important balance tweaks, but the animation has been adjusted as well. The animations for every move have been changed to make them more intuitive. High attacks look as though they hit high, low attacks look as though they hit low, and mid attacks look as though they hit in the middle. These changes were made to make the game easier to understand for people who haven’t played it before.
The build itself felt a lot more aggressive than the original Virtua Fighter 5. Characters felt as if they were moved quicker. This, once again, could be due to the extensive balance changes made to the game. Frame data was “tightened up” all around, and special attention was given to which moves and strings were safe. According to Hom, Sega balanced the game using information gained from matches between top Japanese players, so the game should be easier to play for newbies and pros alike.
According to Hom, the development team also put an incredible amount of work into the stages. Not only are there new stages in Final Showdown, but many of them change between rounds. One stage that I was shown started in a wide open space during round 1, but then was reduced to a claustrophobic cage in round 2.
New button configuration options were one of the coolest new features I saw. You can configure your controls right on the character select screen and then test them out before you choose your character. The test window shows a virtual representation of all three game buttons and a joystick. The buttons light up when you press them and the joystick on screen moves along with the joystick on your controller. Not only is this a great way to button check, it’s also a great way to test the latency on whatever monitor you are playing on before a match.
Two new characters were added to the roster. Taka-Arashi from Virtual Fighter 3 hasn’t changed much over the years. He’s still slow and he still hits like a truck. Jean Kujo is a karate master who seems to come from the same school of fashion sense as Dante form Devil May Cry. Jean was incredibly fast and his moves were very safe. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about the character because I was only able to play one match with him, but he was decently easy to pick up.
Though we obviously couldn’t try the online mode of the game on the show floor, Hom said that the game’s netcode has been totally rebuilt. He says that the game plays incredibly smooth with virtually no delay online. He couldn’t get into the specifics of whether or not the netcode will use button delay or rollbacks, but he assured me that internet play has been vastly improved.
He was also able to talk about DLC plans as well. Each character will have 500-700 customization items that they can equip. All together, there are around 14,000 costume customization items in the game! These items will be sold both in individual character packs and in a total roster bundle, and although he couldn’t give us a full price, he did say that all of the DLC put together would still cost less than a full disc based game.
I’ve never been a hardcore Virtua Fighter 5 player, but I have to admit that Final Showdown was fun. The new balance changes, intuitive animations, and estimated budget price are incredibly appealing to someone who missed the Virtua Fighter 5 boat the first time around. On the other hand, the balance changes and new characters will definitely be enough to draw die-hard players back in.