Virtua Fighter 4
I finally got round to leaving my PS2 console alone and write up this review but I can assure you that even while typing, I get the urge to take my Dual Shock controller back into my hands and continue bashing some faces.
The game that has caused this ? Virtua Fighter 4 from Sega.
Since Sega stopped with their Dreamcast console and decided to focus completely on creating games, they’ve released a couple of games that weren’t really bad but didn’t quite make it either. Now they’re going for it again with Virtua Fighter 4 which is supposed to become the next step in fight games. And believe it or not, I think they’ve succeeded.
When first starting up VF4 I was a bit disappointed. The graphics were great, but I didn’t feel instantly appealed by the game like I did with Dead or Alive 2. That changed quite rapidly though, as I entered the arena and started fighting after a few practice sessions.
First of all, best thing is to create a character. The more you play, the more your character will then gain experience and if you’ve got a friend who’s got a character aswell, you can take your memory card, plug it into the PS2 next to his and fight against each other’s trained fighters to see who is the real champion.
Also, your character will get extra assets by gaining experience like bracelets, extra clothing, etc so after a while you’ll be able to modify your martial arts expert to your own preferences.
There are several modes you can play in single player (Arcade, Training, Kumite, etc) but where you would normally go for “Arcade” in Tekken or DoA, the best mode in Virtua Fighter 4 is Kumite.
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.
That’s actually the key to Virtua Fighter 4. While games like Tekken and Dead or Alive are almost nothing but button-smashing and preparing to win with a special move, VF4 actually inspires you to play with tactic instead of just going full force ahead.
Next to the normal punches, kicks and throws, there’s in total no less than 100 moves available for each individual character and everything is so balanced that you can choose to play with each fighter without having to fear that you’ll be weaker than your opponent. Also, you’ve got availability of a “tech-roll” which allows you to jump right back up after having been slammed to the ground so that you can prevent that extra punch of your attacker while you’re helplessly laying on the ground. To make things even more balanced, you can perform a side-step to evade an attack. As I said, it’s not all about button-smashing but strategy and tactic defenitely play their role in this fighting game so the best thing to do if you really want to master this game is to do alot of training sessions before you actually start fighting. This way you’ll be able to learn the moves and see how your character responds to your controls.
The sound is very convincing and reality-like but is nothing compared to the graphics which are just awesome for PS2 standards.
The animations are extremely fluid and never give an itch. An example of this is when you keep pressing the “Guard” button. This way, your character will keep evading your opponent’s attacks in a subtle and effective way without ever seeing glitches in the graphics.
Other demonstrations of how detailed this game’s graphics are, are the fighting arena’s. You’ll have lightnings, falling leaves, realistic water,… all created realisticly and adding to the atmosphere.
I could go on and on about how great Virtua Fighter 4 is and how it sets the next step for fighting games, but I don’t want to bore you to death with my everlasting sentences so I’m going to conclude with the following : Virtua Fighter 4 IS martial arts while other games TRY.