Virtua Fighter has always been an interesting series, because it uses such a precise combat engine, there can be a bit of a barrier for newer players. You might be able to button mash your way through the easiest level of difficulty, but you will lose to skilled players or even average AI difficulty nine times out of 10 - at least.
I like my fighting games, and I like a wide variety of them. I enjoy Tekken, Soulcalibur, Dead or Alive, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and more. Virtua Fighter in many ways is probably the most challenging of all of these. At a glance, it looks like Tekken in that it is a 3D fighter, though the visuals do not hold up nearly as well. This is an updated version of the Virtua Fighter 5 that released a few years ago, and the graphics are starting to show their age. That is not to say the game is ugly, because it is a fluid, pleasant-looking title, but it does not hold up to the latest Tekken or Soulcalibur title either.
The sound effects are passable and the music completely forgetful if I am being honest. The game itself however plays very nicely and the challenge that the series is known for persists. You can unlock most of the trophies this game provides in under an hour, but to master the game itself and hold your own online, you will have to find a character or two you really like and master them. For more casual fighting fans, this may not appeal to you. There are no super-moves like those found in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom, no over-the-top fireball combos to keep your opponent pinned to the edge of the screen, and that is fine by me.
The training mode is very helpful in letting you test drive certain characters and find combinations of moves that suit your playing style, and there are a handful of other modes such as challenge that help stretch out the game's replay value. However, I enjoyed the quest mode from the original Virtua Fighter 5 that gave you a sense of something more to do than just wind up in random fights, and also provided you with unlockable items you can use to change the appearance of fighters. You can still get these aestetic items, but now you need to purchase them as DLC, which is a bit disappointing. Still, the main game itself rings in at $15 on the PlayStation Network and provides a solid fighting experience that lacks some of the bells and whistles found in other fighting titles. It is worth noting that PlayStation Plus subscribers can snag this game, which is a new release, free during the month of June (but the DLC is still going to cost you).
The addition of online (that was lacking in the original for PlayStation 3) is a welcome bonus. However, the roster of fighters while added to from the original, is still much smaller than that found in a lot of other games. That being said, almost all of the fighters do feel distinctly different from one another. Overall, I enjoyed the game and appreciate the system the combat employs, but Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown does show some of its age and would have benefited from just a bit more content.