Review by slutboyfame
To begin with - I've not 'pasted' my review from Word, this time. I lost all the commas from my last review, oddly, when I did. Oh well, sounding like a giddy schoolgirl was _possibly_ appropriate given it was my first time, last time. Anyway, on to the review.
Another excellent game, possibly the first good fighting game for the PS2. Strange, given the machine's popularity that the 1st big fighter, Tekken Tag, was so poor. In this review, I'll try to compare the game to Soul Calibur, as the soul still burns brightest (because of 'Mission Battle')
How the game responds to your inputs, and how you can respond to the different situations you find yourself in, are the cornerstones of a good fighter. This is possibly the best thing about VF4, second only (just) to Soul Calibur. The fighters move fluidly and appropriately - fights are generally closely fought, with a cut and thrust of seemingly little advantage to each player. This creates a tense atmosphere ingame, and grows as you become more proficient.
The variety of ways to deal with each situation is admirable. Confusing at first, the game slowly builds in your psyche. You find yourself puzzling over strategies and tactics, whether you can _really_ construct a winning approach with just solid defence, building on counters, reversals and evades - or whether you need more robust procedures to defeat your opponent.
Where VF4 really shines, as compared to Soul Calibur, is in reversals and throws. In SC, these are all slightly annoying - the features are realised fairly sketchily - throws, seemingly, are no more sophisticated than Street Fighter's mechanics. Most grating, though, is that there are only two 'parry' moves. In VF4, you reverse different moves in different ways, and your opponents really know it -the knee reverse is _amazingly_ satisfying to pull off.
Another aspect that satisfies is the lack of button-mashability. Other than by using Lau, the 'Eddy' of VF4 - a good player will almost always win, although some degree of luck is involved. The fact that there's no 'Cervantes' to render contests uneven is another positive feature.
Also worth noting is the exacting nature of moves - you have little leeway, a la SC, to be slightly imprecise in your commands. This can make playing with a pad slightly frustrating, especially with Aoi. Also, the moves aren't listed as clearly as in SC in training, with moves which are, in effect, l+K, d simply listed as l,k,d and so on.
This is another close-run thing, in comparison to Soul Calibur. Surprisingly for a 2-year old DC game, SC still stands up quite well. Obviously, the PS2's lighting (notable on the 'City' stage) & particle effects (on the Island one) give extra polish, but in most other ways, the two games are similar. What impresses with VF4 is the characters faces - and their movement - changing from open to closed stances, when performing various moves. Also impressive is the number of characters who have 'special' stances, lending them a real personality.
In terms of sound and music, Soul Calibur has it all sown up. Sega still has a penchant for cheesy rock numbers - on the select screen, Island and Arena stages amongst others - and these really grate, when you have to endure them.
The game, overall, has a lot of very good features. Playing as Kage reminds me of first encountering SFII, and I was drawn into the game in a similar way. I miss the lack of infinite time for bouts and the 'mission battles' of Soul Calibur, but the game makes up for it, almost. Even completing the training in 'record' times for each character is a good study tool. Kumite gives you scope for expanding your concentration level over time.
All in all, this is an essential purchase for PS2 fight fans.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/10/02, Updated 05/10/02
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