Virtua Fighter 5BASIC INFO: In all honesty I was never a Virtua Fighter player before this game. I knew about it of course but I just passed it off as another Soul Caliber or Dead Or Alive clone. To me Tekken was the only proper fighter. Why?? Well I've been playing it since the very first and I couldn't think how it could be improved. Of course I tried other Fighters such as Soul Caliber and Dead Or Alive but after being disappointed with both I just presumed all other fighters would be the same. Therefor I never even bothered with Virtua Fighter. After getting a PS3 however and realising that Tekken 6 won't be released till 2008 I reluctantly purchased VF5 just to satisfy my need for a fighting game. I'm glad I did.
Comparing Virtua Fighter to Tekken is wrong though. It's like comparing Burnout to Gran Turismo. Tekken is an arcade game. Designed to suit all kind of gamers. VF however is a lot more technical and requires patience and practice to get the best out of it. Simply bashing the buttons will only get you so far. To really advance through the rankings you will need to actually know what you are doing. Therefor Virtua Fighter is not for the kiddies. The technical moves will leave them confused and they'd probably end up just bashing the same button again and again. Virtua Fighter is for adults or players that at least know the basics of fighting and are willing to put in the effort to improve.
GRAPHICS: Well the first thing anyone notices about a game are the graphics. Eager to see the graphics at it's best, the first character I tried out was Vanessa as she looked like she would look good in the ring wearing a bra (I'm a guy, it's natural). And I must admit they are beautiful (I'm talking about the graphics here). Clothing and hair on the characters move realistically with every move they make. Each character is beautifully rendered. The female characters have smooth skin while the male characters show their muscles and beads of sweat on their torso in glorious detail.
The stages don't lack in the graphics department either. Each stage is crisp and beautiful. Some stages are more gorgeous to look at then others though. For example there's a Basket Ball Court Stage where it's constantly raining. The raindrops look stunning as they splash into the puddles on the ground. Another similar stage is the Ruins where you are fighting ankle deep in water.
CONTROLS: As I said this is the first time I played Virtua Fighter, however I'm an extremely fast learner when it comes to games so personally I find the controls easy to use. Less experienced gamers however might struggle to grasp the controls. The shoulder buttons play a big part in the fighting and while you can fight a reasonable battle without using them it's still recommended that you use them as they are usefull for a lot of situations. For example L1 is used to grab the opponent and L2 is used for a variety of different situations like getting up quicker after been knocked down. The X and Triangle buttons are both punch while Circle is used to kick and Square is block. By using a combination of Kick, Punch and the Directional Buttons you can pull of a lot of different moves. Just remember that this is a lot more technical then Tekken and requires practice and patience to get the best out of it.
GAMEPLAY: There is no 'Best' character in Virtua Fighter. Each of the 17 characters has their own list of moves and each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are fast but weak, some are slow but strong, some are better with throws and some are average with everything. The gameplay is fluid, animation flows smoothly from one to the next and the moves are executed with perfection.
GAME MODES: The usual arcade mode is present however there are no FMV sequences and no proper ending. You just beat 7 characters then a bonus 8th character, the credits roll and that's it. A big disappointment.
But that's okay as Quest Mode makes up for it. Think of quest mode as a career mode. You pick a character then fight an unlimited amount of opponents to go from 9th Kyu all the way to Hero. This is also where you can win money and clothing for your character. There are also Tournament events within quest mode offering more cash and rewards.
2-Player mode does exactly what it says on the tin. With a 2nd controller you can fight your friends. Nothing else to say about this really. It's 2 player.
The big disappointment about VF5 is the lack of online play. Why they didn't add this is beyond me. Being able to beat the Japenese Teenagers would be so satisfying. It's a big shame this was not added. Even Tekken Dark Resurrection on the PSP had some sort of online element. Even if they just allowed us to upload our scores to see our world ranking would be good enough, but no. Online was completely ignored for VF5.
OTHER FEATURES: Like most games these days we are able to customise our characters. However spending 10000 on a hat for your character is ridiculous. Why do we have to work so hard just to customise our character?? Why can't we just change their clothes...for free?? If not for free then at least give us proper realistic prices. It's not only VF5 that is guilty of this ridiculous scam. Tekken 5 had the exact same thing with prices just as high for something really insignificant. I mean other games allow us to customise our character before we start playing or if not then they allow us to buy clothes for a normal fee during the game so why do Fighting games always take this ridiculous approach?
LIFESPAN: Mastering one single character can probably take weeks if not months, if this is the only game you have then you could potentially make this game last years. But lets be realistic, even the most serious of gamers will probably master one character then move on to the next game. The lack of Online play really hurts it's longevity too.
FINAL THOUGHT: The negatives that I pointed out are minor apart from the lack of online play. This is a fighter not an RPG so the bad customisation method doesn't bother me. The characters fight the same whether they are wearing just a bra or wearing a duffel coat so it makes no difference to me. The poor arcade mode is bad but the Quest makes up for it. The lack of online modes does effect it's final score though as a PS3 game this popular simply needs online play to make it last a lot longer. All in all this is an excellent game and it pains me to say that yes it probably is better then Tekken at the moment. If you enjoy fighters then this simply has to be in your game collection.