A lot has changed since 1998, when Virtua Fighter 3tb
gave an early boost to the dearly departed Dreamcast. Eight-and-a-bit years later, Sega?s flagship fighting series is the hottest game in the launch line-up of a new console by Sony. It?s a bitter pill for Sega fans to swallow, no doubt, but as soon as we played this port of the Virtua Fighter 5 Version B
arcade, well, we knew we?d have to look beyond the politics ? because this is a pure Sega classic.
Before we get into the ring, let?s warm up. First things first: some preparation. To experience Virtua Fighter 5
properly, you?ll need to drop the SixAxis and get hold of a real joystick. There?s no way you can map your digits to the SixAxis? Square, Triangle and Circle buttons without getting cramped, and the controller?s d-pad just cannot replicate the control afforded by a proper stick.
Fortunately, there is an excellent solution available: Sega?s High Grade Virtua Stick is every bit as good as the Dreamcast Arcade Controller (ah, those lime green buttons) was, and thanks to its use of USB rather than Bluetooth, there is never any momentary dropout (which, with the SixAxis, can occasionally cost you a fight). The High Grade Stick is only available on import from Japan at the moment, but true Virtua Fighter
fans will undoubtedly spare no expense to get the genuine VF5
The next thing you?ll want to do is install Virtua Fighter 5?s
installable game data to the PS3?s hard drive. There?s 2.35GB worth of data to install, which takes about five minutes to perform, but the result is shorter loading times between fights ? although, even having done this, you?ll have to wait ten seconds for each bout to begin. It?s not as bad as a Neo-Geo CD experience, but we were expecting more from a 2007-vintage console. Still, the gameplay here is all-important. So let?s get to it...
Virtua Fighter 5?s
animation is downright incredible. Moving on from VF4 Evo, VF5 strikes out with completely new animation routines and ? to our eyes ? perfect fluency. There are no defects in VF5?s character models, and the way the fighters move here is enough to make you consign the last decade of 3D beat-?em-ups as a mere warm-up. If this is the standard we can expect from future 3D fighting games, then some of our dreams have just come true.
Even better, the level of VF5?s
animation improves the gameplay beyond any other entry in the series. You can see every punch and kick before they land, which makes it feel as though you have a longer time window in which to come up with a defensive counter. And, once you?ve adjusted to the new tempo of VF5
, you?ll be able to make use of the Offensive Move System to evade and pre-empt incoming attacks, turning dangerous situations into attacking opportunities by moving to stronger positions and quickly landing hits.