The Good: Brilliant gameplay, great animations and environments, large amount of replay value.
The Bad: Lame English voice acting (that can be switched to Japanese thankfully), pre historic presentation and a fairly barebones online mode.
Learning Curve: Medium to Hard, 45 min. – 1.5 hrs
Rent or Buy: Must purchase for VF fans and players wishing to get seriously involved in a fighting game, but not easy to pick up and play.
Sega-AM2 (not to be confused with Sega the publisher) has finally brought over the critically acclaimed Virtua Fighter franchise to the 360, and has managed to not only port over a great game, but improve it as well. While the game is geared towards Virtua Fighter enthusiasts, all fans of traditional fighting games should be able to play VF5 and appreciate it’s extremely well crafted and balanced fighting system.
It should be noted that the 360 version of VF5 is based on Version C of the arcade game, meaning that it is slightly tweaked and more balanced than the PS3 version of VF5 that is based on Version B. However, the average player won’t ever notice this while the big VF fans will be skipping down the road while bursting out in song.
VF5 contains 17 completely distinct (both visually and gameplay-wise) fighters. Mastering and unlocking everything for a single fighter will take a large chunk of time on its own, so the roster itself provides a deep layer of replay value. VF5’s gameplay is based off a flawlessly crafted multi-layered combo system. Players will be able to pull off moves ranging from something simple with a few button presses to very complex moves that require perfect timing and dish out a good deal of damage. Thankfully, none of the tiers of the combo system overpower the other. The only problem with VF5 from a gameplay perspective is not due to the game itself, but due to the poor D-Pad design on the default 360 controller. The game is certainly playable with the D-Pad, but sometimes the D-Pad will just be unable to cope with all the action that is going on. However, chances are that fighting game fans will have a third-party joystick lying around either way.
That finger could kill you…
Despite having online added to the game, the Quest Mode is still the bulk of VF5. In Quest Mode, the player will travel around an imaginary city, going from virtual arcades to virtual arcades (that play VF5 of course!) in order to defeat the champion, and to remain as the champion for as long as you can. All of this will be done with only one character from the game, and switching a character will restart the Quest Mode. The player will be rewarded with ranks, items, and gold that will ultimately help to customize their fighter to their visual preference. Customized fighters can also be taken online.
Online multiplayer has finally been added to VF5, and it works well too. The online play is pretty smooth for the most part and works just fine unless you’re opponent (or you) has a bad connection. Regular high-speed internet will ensure smooth gameplay for the most part. While the addition of online multiplayer is great, it is a bit disappointing to see that it isn’t as fleshed out as possible. Players can enter one-on-one ranked and unranked matches, but that’s basically it with some stat tracking on the side. On the bright side, the future for VF is looking good in the online department.
The only real downsides (beside the shallow online) are the game’s presentation and sound. Navigating through the game’s cluttered and not-so-neat looking menus becomes a chore, and listening to the fight announcers and the English voiceovers will hurt your ears. The music can be described as “electro rock” and is largely forgettable. While the sound and presentation may be lacking, the visuals do not disappoint. The good-looking character models animate fluidly, and the environments look nice and use a wide variety of colors.
Virtua Fighter 5 is amazingly deep fighting game with a superb fighting model. Casual fighting game fans may want to skip this one out or give it a rent, but those who love their fix of fighters should definitely pick this one up. With the inclusion of online, fighters may once again become a popular genre, but either way, Sega-AM2 should pat themselves on the back for creating this outstanding game.