Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution
Virtua Fighter 4 was and still is considered one of the best fight-games up to date. Although I am not a hardcore fight-games fan, I did find that this game has that certain ‘edge’ which made me (a typical all-round gamer) like it. I especially appreciated the versatility and enormous amount of moves one could get out of each character, all designed to be used wisely, not just by button-bashing. I will base this review upon the original VF 4 as VF 4: Evolution is exactly what the title describes, a game based upon the original with certain ‘evolutions’.
First thing you will notice is the addition of 2 fighters to the cast. People, say ‘hi’ to Brad and Goh and make them feel welcome on your PS2. Brad is an American bad-ass looking kickboxer and Goh an Asian judo wizz kid… with fashion issues. Next to them, the other characters like pro-wrestler Wolf and Martial Arts expert Sensei Akira have been refurbished with new moves, combos and strategies… another ‘evolution’. Another change that is instantly visible are the improvements in the graphics department, but more on that later.
First things first, the interface has had a complete overhaul in regard to VF4. For beginnners or non-experts like myself, the improved trainingmode is a very welcome addition. It teaches you all the different moves, combination of moves (combo’s) and strategies of the particular character of your liking. I got to be honest here, I didn’t make use of this feature right away because I wanted to just jump in the ring and bust knee-caps, but after a few rounds of getting my skull cracked, I wised up and carefully used this tutorial. I also advise every other player to use this feature as it will pay off greatly. You will handle and master your character much more precisely, resulting in some neat gameplay.
The biggest change as far as gameplay is concerned is the dissappearance of the Kumite mode. A reminder perhaps:
Kumite lets you start off as a new player with low experience and you’ll have an endless amount of adversaries which you can fight against. The more you win, the higher your experience will get and the tougher your opponents will get. The sole goal of this mode is to expand your fighting skills and to get your ranking up.
This ranking is set up like the traditional martial arts where you can earn points to get a new belt and although I’ve reached First Dan (after 1 month of play), I’ve already seen adversaries with Fourth Dan so you can believe me when I say that there’s enough motivation to keep playing 🙂
Every fight is kept in statistics and you can even get some help on which type of moves you should improve. If you for instance keep attacking at full force, you’ll get the advise to sometimes back up again to think about your strategy again instead of trying to keep bashing your opponent.
But no worries, because the guys over at Sega have replaced Kumite with a Quest mode that allows players to compete against the so-called best arcade players in the world. That’s not nearly all, because in Quest, there are over a thousand items and features just waiting to be unlocked ranging from new menu screen wallpapers to avant-garde clothing. It makes you want to compete and beat the crap out of your opponent just for the latest brand of shampoo, but only if you’re into that stuff (sorry, I don’t find wallpapers very exciting). Quest mode also boasts a storyline (you being a young-wannabe out looking for a virtual fight in arcade halls) but don’t let that distract you to much from the real action.
The controls are still neatly intact – you move your fighter around using the directional pad and attack and defend using the punch, kick, and guard buttons (and various combinations of these).
The fighting engine is a masterpiece, it still has the profundity and depth not heard of untill the first VF 4. The AI senses that inexperienced players hesitate ever so often and it will punish you for that. Mastering your character takes a bit of time, but you won’t get bored. In the off-chance that you do, pick another character and start over again – in this game it actually works – without getting a serious ‘deja-vu’ feeling.
A good deal of fun of course, is the ‘versus’ mode where a friend of yours can come over with his memorycard, plug in his own character and play you to see who can truelly call himself ‘console fight-boss’. Sure, I’ve heard people complain about the lack of online playability, but let’s be honest here. I want to sit right next to the friend whose arse I’m kicking so that I can enjoy the expressions of anguish on his face.
Now, graphically VF 4 suffered badly from some aliasing problems. Jagged edges were plenty in the original. Luckily, this uglyness has nearly dissappeared all together giving Evolutions a slightly more polished look. It might not be the sharpest blade on the block, we’ve seen better graphics (Soul Calibur II) but it will do just fine for what it’s supposed to do.
As far as the sounds are concerned, the audio is more or less of the same quality as the original VF 4 but the addition of some new music tracks next to the same old computer generated synthesizer tunes makes a welcoming change.