Virtua Fighter 5
Perfect fighter, rushed port, tough review.
By Adam Doree
Something tells us this summer's Xbox 360 version of Virtua Fighter 5 is going to offer a bit more above what we have here on PS3. Not only are we talking about an extra five months of development time, but 360 version specifics was a topic in our new AM2 interview that could not be discussed.
"It's an untouchable new-generation fighting game in its own right, but some stuff you expect from the home version is very much last-gen."
On the other hand, there's nothing in the way of online functionality, certainly no online fighting, linear and predictable opponent AI even on the harder setting, a rushed training mode and fairly limited general options. It's an untouchable new-generation fighting game in its own right, there's no doubt about that, but some stuff you expect from a home version is very much last-generation, and not up to the standard of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution on PS2.
So judging it as a full price game for PlayStation 3 is a bit of a tough one, especially when those seeking a spot of easy beat-em-up action can download Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection HD from the PlayStation Network at a fraction of the price. But as a reviewer, when I consider that I've been playing VF5 non-stop since January and loved every moment, it's all I need to know to weight up what really matters and cough up a number at the end of this writing.
The bottom line is that, particularly in two-player mode and preferably with a group of like-skilled friends playing together, VF5 is drugs. Really. It's the tits. It's drugs off of tits. It's the most intuitive and balanced VF yet, and that's saying something when you think about how refined VF4: Evolution (and for those who had access to it, VF4: Final Tuned) was. Granted, there are still some bickerings about some characters' moves being slightly too powerful and so on, but overall it would be tough to improve the VF5 formula in any major way right now.
"The Offensive Move techniques open up the space and movement of fights - a very natural, fast-paced boost to the game."
Control is precise and responsive, and the classic three-button system - guard, punch and kick - is as instinctive and dynamic as ever before. Throws (G+P), counter attacks (P+K), quick rolls (G+P+K), reversals and so on, are easy to remember and instinctive to hammer out with directional inputs, timing, and the position of your character or proximity to a wall determining the type of result on screen, and the breakneck pacing is rapid enough that split-second, perhaps subconscious 'twitch' type choices, must be made as you fight. But what makes VF's formula so beautiful is that, on one level or another, players are not forced to think deeply about the mechanical theory behind the fighting system to find it natural to play, and exciting to compete - but that option is absolutely there.
Example - a certain intentional movement (eg. quickly moving to position correctly relative to opponent and wall) allows for a deliberate opener (eg. sidekick opponent into wall to 'crumple' their body, during which they're powerless for a whole second or so) allowing potential for guaranteed follow up (eg. at least one bounce attack leading into a devastating wall combo - maybe half an energy bar - which can change the weight of a bout in just a few seconds). This is a very basic strategic level of play, and because players can learn so much more to up their game - right down to feet/body positioning or 'stance' and its relevance to combo potential - VF is a hypnotic and addictive experience.
"Players are not forced to think deeply about the mechanical theory behind the fighting system, but the option is there."
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SEGA AM2 Video Interview
Previous VF5 video interview feature with Hiroshi Kataoka, Noriyuki Shimoda & Hiroshi Masui (June 2006)
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