Virtua Fighter 5 Review
- Posted August 7th, 2007 at 15:18 EDT by Michael Harradence
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Virtua Fighter 5 is a hardcore fighters dream, whether you’re a fan of the series or not.
- Hundreds of different moves to study.
- Comprehensive, realistic fighting mechanics.
- Lengthy Quest Mode.
- No online functionality.
- Single player feels slightly tame compared to other fighters.
- Definitely not your typical "pick up and play" brawler.
Virtua Fighter’s eponymous debut back in the early 1990s signified one of the most crucial transitions in beat ‘em up history that changed gaming forever; the polygonal leap to 3D. Indeed, despite remaining one of the most venerable series that is still happily chugging along over a decade later, SEGA’s flagship brawler has had to endure gamers shifting their attention away to the voluptuous, dynamic offerings from rivals Namco and Tecmo over the years. The more streamlined, user-friendly approach to 3D combat from games such as Tekken, Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive attracted a whole new legion of followers, and achieved nothing but to fully perpetuate Virtua Fighter 5’s stiff, hardcore image in the minds of causal observers around the globe. As such, its decline in western territories became a slow but inexorable passing in Joe Public’s collective gaming conscience. Bruised but not completely battered, the series has carved out an immensely loyal fan base in its native Japan, where the franchise has continued to prove after each subsequent release why it’s unquestionably one of the most comprehensive, intricate fighters on the market – and fortunately, it's very much apparent with this latest instalment on PlayStation 3.
Virtua Fighter 5 follows on from the events of its last generation predecessor, with international conglomeration J6 having just barely completed development on the latest Dural mode, following the escape of base model combatant, Vanessa Lewis. Thus, the company decides to announce the Fifth World Fighter Tournament to test run Dural and flush out any traitors. The game adds two new characters to the roster, bringing the total number of fighters to 17, including the usual host of familiar faces such as Kage-Maru, Shun-Di, Jeffry McWild and Sarah Bryant.
Unlike other fighters who are bombarded with multiple button set-ups and combinations, Virtua Fighter 5 continues the series tradition of basing its manoeuvres around three buttons; guard, kick and punch. However, this seemingly innocuous offering houses literally hundreds upon hundreds of performance combos, throws, reversals and other assorted attacks spread throughout the games line-up of fighters, all of whom bring a variety of complex, diverse fighting styles which will likely take you weeks, if not months, to properly master. Therein lies the series most extolled values; the array of moves is compelling, and the timing required to execute and ultimately surpass your foes must be mastered down to the last second, requiring what some may find an arduous amount of training ahead. However, the reward comes when you find yourself pulling off a perfectly timed left-punch reversal, or countering your opponent's moves with a precise, thunderous elbow to the gut.
It’s satisfying on a level that quite simply can’t be found in other fighters, where beginner’s luck tends to run rampant. Likewise, the moves themselves look great, and are executed in such a fluidity that at times it coaxes you to wonder whether you’re actually playing a videogame or watching the real thing; indeed, only a few minor flubs are noticeable, but they do nothing to break the immersion factor. It’s nothing short of a testament to developer AM2’s desire bring to life the fluidity and believability of two combatants slugging it out in the ring, and watching it unfold before your very eyes. Of course, there’s still plenty of over-the-top juggles to experience, which, while not quite as ostentatious as those found in Tekken or Dead or Alive, are still equally complicated to pull off, and ultimately just as satisfying. It should come as no surprise that the key to winning a lot of matches lies in your ability to keep your opponent air-based for as long as possible, allowing you to pummel them into submission with a string of intricate, time-based combos as they lie helplessly at your mercy.
The standard Arcade mode is pretty basic by all accounts; you fight your way through eight stages, battling against somewhat tame computer-controlled opponents in a bid to claim victory. There’s virtually no narrative content here whatsoever, a factor that has proved to become a welcoming addition in incentivizing the majority of post-arcade releases over last few years. Subsequently, it’s doubtful you’ll spend much time in the mode, though increasing the AI difficulty can provide you with a decent challenge if you feel like ... (continued on next page) ----