16 cert, Sega, Xbox Live (also PS3) ***
The headband says it all. That questionable fashion accessory is a dead giveaway that this is a game with 1980s origins, with a hero who shares the same fashion sense as Ryu from Street Fighter or any number of the pugilists from Final Fight. Virtua Fighter 5 is like a downloadable time machine. Seconds after pressing start, you realise that, a few tweaks aside, the latest edition barely changes the recipe: it’s a 2D retro combat game with the two-round match formula. Unlike many competitors (including the sublime SoulCalibur series), VF5 is relatively grounded.
Characters have ordinary names such as Sarah Bryant and nobody bursts into flames or levitates. Instead, the combatants are a motley crew of martial artists, wrestlers (both Mexican and Sumo) and street brawlers. Happily, there are online and local multiplayer options. Younger gamers raised on the likes of God of War and Assassin’s Creed might consider it quaint, but Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a simple, addictive little beat-’em-up.