Review by Jxt

"Not a game, but a lifetime commitment"

Virtua Fighter 2, as you will all probably know is the sequel to the ground-breaking arcade game, Virtua Fighter. Hailed for a VERY long time in Japan as the greatest game to ever hit the arcades, I just HAD to play it, to sample it's alledged 'glory'. And absolutley HATED it. But you see I gave it 10 out of 10? Read on...

See, as an avid StreetFighter player, I was used to my fighting games being flashy, things that would have characters throwing all manner of energy around in a desperate attempt to wear each other's energy bar down to nothing. This game was, well, boring. There was none of the flshiness, it wasn't over the top, and it seemed that I couldn't do anything with the, hmmm, three attacks that seemed to be available to each fighter. I was wrong.

GAMEPLAY: As I have said, this game starts out a very unrewarding experience. If you like to be amazed within a couple of seconds play with screen-consuming fire-blasts and impossible karmic chi blasts of mammoth proportions, get out here. However, you'd be missing out on, in my honest opinion, the best game ever. Period. Go on, you're not doing well, and your Tekken is easier to play. Drop it. I almost did, were it not for browsing through many an FAQ and strategy guide in the vain hope of recovering some enjoyment from a game I had wasted money on. Were it not for that I would have missed out, you see, this is one game that to play, it has to be mastered. Or very near. And when it is, it opens up as one of the most deep, strategic fighting games you'll have ever played, and with the strategy and depth, comes the FUN.

Virtua Fighter 2 is akin to an actual martial art, with all the commitment, and self-discipline that comes with both. Like a martial art, when learned it can become an art form, impressing both yourself and others as you seek the ultimate challenge on the path to true enlightenment. Grasshopper. And after the weighty commitment comes rewards that no other fighting game can deliver. Indeed, I have played RPGs with less depth than VF2. It is an ART.

GRAPHICS: Nobody REALLY thought that the humble Saturn was going to be able to deliver graphics the quality of the arcade machine. Not after Virtua Fighter. And it amazed us. Ignoring the horrid 2D layered backdrops, the fighters (Whom your focus should be on anyway, not the scenery) are excellent. They may lack the arcade's light sourcing, but they are very accurate models of exaclt how they should be. But it is the movement that sets the graphics apart. They may not throw vast conflagrations of chi at each other, but they are not without their own impressive flashiness. Every kick, punch, wince, throw and block is excellent. Watching the fighters legs, and arms move exactly as they should (Like, in real life) is cool. During, for instance, a slow-motion replay, you can see every bit of effort and weight is evident. Like a martial art, it's cool to watch. Sure the backdrops may be lacklustre, but who attends a wrestling match and watches the crowd?

SOUND: I do not have much to say about the sound. The music is typical Japanese videogame rock music, high in energy and really gets you going. If you like that kind of thing, which I am not, but it is a better alternative than Tekken 3's awful techno soundtrack. And the effects are minimalist, and occasionally muffled, but they do the job well, except for when they cut out (Which is quite regular). I'd recommend playing with the sound down, and a favorite CD in the stereo.

REPLAYABLILITY: This hasn't got fifty FMV endings to 'earn' nor has it a hidden character for every day of the year. You make your own reply value, as the game isn't truly complete until you have 1st grade with all characters. And until the game is better than you are. One really cool feature is the expert mode, learning off yourself. It's still AI, but at least it can now say, regularly Stun Palm of Doom you, or nail a 7-hit float combo. And the vs mode will keep you going nearly forever in the path for true enlightenment.

OVERALL: Have you got plenty of time to spare. Can you commit? Would you like to not only get good at a game, but learn a new art? Play Virtua Fighter 2. I think it is unsurpassed amongst videogames. A truly Zen experience. Grasshopper.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/00, Updated 01/06/00


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