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Old 03-13-2003, 08:55 PM   #113
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Virtua Fighter 4 - Playstation 2 - Rating 8
Let me begin by saying that if you don't like the Virtua Fighter series, if you don't enjoy spending some serious time mastering a character's every move, throw and counter, if you are into button mashing and instant gratification, then stay far away from Virtua Fighter 4. If, however, you are a serious 3D fighting game fan who likes to earn victories through a mastery of skill, boy have I got the game for you!
Virtua Fighter 4 presents the pinnacle of strategy-based fighting. Skill can only be attained through much trial and error. If you've already mastered at least one character in Virtua Fighter 2 and/or 3, then you have a good foundation to work with. However, a simple working knowledge from other VF games won't suffice to being really good in VF4. You'll need to be patient and practice for countless hours moves and their proper application during combat, throws, counters, juggling (to an extent), movement, range, throw-countering, etc. Thankfully, there's a very useful Training Mode where you can practice all the moves and learn how to apply them in tough situations. VF4 is jam-packed with enough modes and extras to satisfy even the most hardened gamer. The best addition is the Kumite Mode where you face an endless barrage of opponents and as you progress you'll get ranked with dans (belts) which keep track of your level of performance and the game even keeps track of a TON of other stuff like percentages of hits and throws executed properly, how well you're guarding/countering, how well you evade and defend, etc. etc. As you move up the ranks you face harder opponents who (supposedly) play at the difficulty of playing against VF veterans and masters. About 1,000 fights in and I've lost 43 matches (I use Shun Di). There's a few other modes as well, but I'll spare you the details. I would like to mention the fact that there are over 400 items, accessories, and costumes to unlock. However, much of it is uninteresting and I could care less about playing Barbie with my fighting game. I works well in a game like Dead or Alive because you're playing with girls predominately, but not here in VF land.
The arcade mode is fun and you can adjust the difficulty, rounds, timer, etc. like in every other fighter. The problem with VF4's arcade mode is that there are still no character endings.... Thankfully, the game is so engaging it makes no difference. There are 13 initial characters selectable (Dural is unlocked when you beat her in Kumite Mode). Each fighter has strengths/weaknesses. For example, Pai is ultra-fast with good priority in moves/range, but she's also among the weakest. Wolf is a massive wrestler that has a great variety of throws/counters and is very strong. However, his moves are harder to execute properly than most of other fighters. Etc. Pick a fighter that best suits your playing style. Want a well-rounded fighter with good moves? Pick Jacky or Sarah. Are you into the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu fighting system? Pick Lei Fei. Want a powerhouse? Pick Jeffry or Wolf. There's something for just about anyone (except you button mashers. You know who you are ;)). What will not be tolerated is button mashing. If you think you're going to whip VF butt by slapping random buttons you're in for a suprise. Simply put, prepare to get destroyed.
The 3D environments are superbly replicated from the arcade without much sacrifice. Light sourcing is very well done although the eight individual light sources in the arcade has been reduced to two. However, the lighting is still among the best on the PS2. Characters are detailed and highly polished. Tekken 4, Soul Calibur, and Dead or Alive 3 have better character animation, but VF is faster, more in-depth and what's there is acceptable. Backgrounds aren't near as detailed or open-ended as in DoA3, but the fighting system is undeniably well-balanced and superior to DoA. As far as sheer fun factor is concerned, it's your personal preference. I personally feel that VF4 is more rewarding than DoA3, however, DoA3 is more instant fun and is underappreciated since it suffers for having easy counters, plus button mashing is rewarded far too often with victory.
I believe that VF had a great soundtrack, VF2 had a good soundtrack, VF3 had an average soundtrack, and VF4 has a decent soundtrack. I don't care for the music all that much in VF4, but what is there is high-quality. The sound effects and voices are absolutely crystal clear and get the job done right.
There's no question about it - VF4 is high-quality gaming with enough secrets, strategy, and challenge to keep even the most hardened fighting gamer busy. It occupies quite a bit of time so if you're not willing to invest serious time into one game then steer clear of VF4. This is a game that appreciates effort and rewards it generously.

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Last edited by Icarus4578; 03-13-2004 at 11:33 AM.
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