PS3 Review: Virtua Fighter 5
By Casey Lynch Feb 19, 2007, 6:35 GMT
Virtua Fighter jumps into the next-gen ring with VF 5! Good, bad? Check it.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve been jonesing to get your hands on the latest Virtua Fighter since plowing through Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution four years ago.
We’ve got to be honest here before we continue.
We’re HA-UGE, lifelong VF fans and we’ve followed the series since the SEGA Saturn days. Just playing through the final build of VF5 put a smile on our faces.
That said, here’s our totally impartial review.
Virtua Fighter 5, which hits streets tomorrow, is a near perfect port of the arcade fighter you’ve been sinking all your latte money into at the local multiplex lately, just with a ton more to do.
It steps up everything VF 4:Evo did a notch. Like VF: 4 Evo added Goh and Brad, VF 5 has 2 new fighters: luchadore El Blaze (pictured at the top) and monkey-style fighter Eileen. And like VF4: Evo had something like 1500 clothing and accessory items – you know, every dojo-busting v-fighter needs killer duds – VF 5 has re-tuned Customize mode which now gives you access to buy/equip more outfits and accessories than Frank West could shake a pair of skimpy bike shorts at.
But everyone knows VF games are really about fighting, and VF 5 delivers some of the best console fighting you’ve ever seen or played.
On to what works and what doesn't...
From presentation to control to fun factor, Virtua Fighter 5 works fantastically.
There are several tweaks feature-wise – in addition to Vs. mode (player-vs.-player) and Arcade mode (player-vs.-CPU), there is a Quest mode that is a further revamped version of the Kumite mode like we saw in VF 4: Evo, where players can jump in and out of 7 different arcades to rank up and earn money – which should look familiar to seasoned v-fighters.
Control-wise, each of the 17 characters has a gang of moves, some that return and some that are brand new. The controls are easy enough to learn to get you into a game, but are dense enough that they will take some serious time to master, and quickly show off the difference between a button-mashing n00b and a master.
For players looking to brush up on their attacks and reaction-time, there is Dojo, which is a practice mode that throws a series of move-commands at you that you need to complete in order, or you can just face off against a character that just stands there like a punching bag. We spent considerable time in here honing our combinations in order to have some hope of surviving the later fights (especially the final fight against Dural, phew!)
The game as a whole plays more intuitively and faster then VF 4: Evo, which gives it more appeal to newer players, but expert players have plenty of moves to take advantage of. In fact, at the quicker clip, you’ll be hard pressed to get a hit on an expert if you’re a beginner.
You’ll see the difficulty ramp up in the Arcade mode about 4 or 5 fights in. The first few fighters go down without much of a fight but once you reach Vanessa, a raging Vale Tudo fighter, or Kage with his hopping Haakure-ryu Ju-Jutsu, the boys start to get weeded out from the men pretty darn quick.
Still, the real appeal of VF 5 is the Vs., which lets you and your buddies duke it out. Everyone knows nothing brings friends together like a chance to beat the snot out of each other.
The Quest mode is fun (and very addictive) and lets you compete for prizes and cash to bling out your brawler at the in-game shop. In Customize, you can go to town and choose between costumes and a slew of attachable items that your fighter can wear all over.
Graphics-wise, the fighter animations and environments look stunning. Not that you play a fighting game to look at the pretty waterfalls or anything, but the game looks great. Running some of the later fights at top speed with fists flying, we never saw any hitches in frame rate either, only sheer bare-knuckle beauty.
What doesn’t work
The most obvious downside of VF 5 is lack of network play. Afraid of latency issues and laggy connection possibilities, SEGA has said many times that they didn’t want the game to suffer overall by having a compelling single-player game and a potentially troublesome online multi-player, so they opted out of any online modes completely.
We knew about this coming into it but it still sucks.
Now, we enjoy beating the crud out of the CPU and making our friends cry like little girls in PvP matches, but where’s the online fighting?
Our only hope is that somewhere down the line, SEGA will patch in a network update, that or the Xbox 360 version that’s due later this summer will have online capabilities via Xbox LIVE.
Oh, our only other gripe: Kage’s little antsy dance is so annoying. He needs to lay off the Red Bull.
What it all means
Pound for pound, Virtua Fighter 5 is the best fighter out there right now, and further proof that the PS3 is a worthwhile investment. After a year or so, when the PS3 catalog is 100 games deep with games of this caliber, all the naysayers will be PS3 owners and singing its praises. Until then, all you cool kids can enjoy the early fruits of the system with this ridiculously fluid and beautiful fighter.
+ Great controls
+ Looks fantastic
+ Tons of customizable options
- No network online play
- Kage’s dance is annoying