Reviews// Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3)

Not because Sega has pulled a Namco and turned this into a Tekken-style button-masher

Posted 23 Feb 2007 17:13 by
Other things have also changed, but mostly for good. There are two new fighters ? El Blaze and Eileen, which we?ll come to in a minute ? while old favourites have been given an extra life by virtue of subtle redesign, both physically and through tweaks to their standard combos.

El Blaze, a Mexican pro wrestler, is a good mid-range fighter ? an all-rounder. He looks like one of the characters from the appalling Nacho Libre movie, but don?t let that put you off. Eileen, on the other hand, is a small and quick specialist in Monkey Kung-Fu. She almost feels too diminutive at first, but ? as with Kage and Shun ? practise sufficiently and you?ll find how she can best use her strengths, even when up against Akira or Jeffry (who is bigger than ever in VF5). All in all, with a cast of 17 characters to play, and Dural in the game?s Dojo Mode, there?s more than enough variety of fighting styles in VF5.

There?s also plenty of variety in VF5?s stages, and some of the visual highlights are just spectacular ? the Great Wall of China is splashed in golden sunlight, the river stage is played on a moving boat as other boats punt by, and the snow in the mountain stage is so powdery you could sniff it. The lighting here is excellent and character shadows are perfectly tied to their animations. 3D backdrops go on as far as the eye can see. There are properly modelled spectators and passers-by in most stages. We could go on. The point is: Sega has announced in VF5 that the n-n-next-gen can begin.

In terms of the modes on offer, VF5 provides a good blend of serious and silly. There?s the Customize option, which lets you mess with your character?s look and select his/her wardrobe ? a great laugh.

And then there?s Quest Mode ? played from a map screen that looks like Tokyo ? in which you can visit virtual Sega arcades to fight against virtual players of all skill levels, and enter tournaments as and when they?re held. The objectives in Quest Mode include levelling-up your personal fighter (from 10th Kyu all the way to greater than 1st Dan), and winning clothing/accessories and gold (for use in VF5?s shop).

Quest Mode is a great way to spend time when you?re playing on your own, as is Arcade mode. Inevitably, though, most of your hours will be given over to two-player fights with VF-mad friends; and rightly so. The balance of VF5?s gameplay ? the more considered tempo, an increased number of simple combos, and a Dojo Mode that shows you how to play VF5 like a Master ? makes this the perfect two-player beat ?em up.

Even beginners can stand a chance against veterans now ? and not because Sega has pulled a Namco and turned this into a Tekken-style button-masher (it certainly hasn?t, I?m glad to say), but because VF5 is about re-education. The whole game engine has gone a level-up and the parameters have changed. As ever, though, it?s an absolute joy to play.

SPOnG rating: A
Why isn?t VF5 an ?A+?, you?re probably wondering. Well, there are a couple of points that we still hope are addressed in the Xbox 360 version. For one, there?s no online play here. And secondly, the loading times are just a bit sloppy. Regardless of those minor concerns, though, we?re happy to slap a big, fat ?CLASSIC? rosette on AM2?s latest. It?s VF-ing good.
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hollywooda 27 Feb 2007 15:05
cant believe the PS3 version has no online play!! that's just fcuking stupid!, & if the same applies to the 360 version i'll be giving this one a miss i think.
vault 13 2 Mar 2007 21:26
hollywooda wrote:
cant believe the PS3 version has no online play!! that's just fcuking stupid!, & if the same applies to the 360 version i'll be giving this one a miss i think.

It's not stupid, it's a gameplay issue. Home console vs. offers no lag, no bandwidth to contend with, no worrying about users pathetic high pings and lag issues. For some games it's fine, but for a game like Virtua Fighter, it's just not good. Even 2D fighters like Street Figher and the like don't handle too well. Sega would rather not tarnish the perfect gameplay experience. Unless they're lying, te 360 won't have online play either.

What I'm miffed about is the backward step from VF4 -> VF4:EVO ->VF5.. Evolution lost the tamagotchi/pokemono trainin style Kumité mode and 5 took a severe hit in the Dojo/Training mode. The tutorials and move preview are absent. And a lack of any new modes of play are a dissapointment. At least the new characters and gameplay is balanced.
hollywooda 5 Mar 2007 09:53
If they can make games like Battlefield & Gears of war play online without lag issues then surely they can make a game that is one static environment & two characters work online??... just seems like sloppy programming to me, Sega probably aren?t the best company for making online gaming but to not bother i think is a bit weak. Having online virtua Fighter tournaments with people from all over the world would of been an excellent add on to this game, sadly without an online feature this game is just a graphically buffed up version of what we already have.
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