"Virtua Fighter Back With a Vengance!"

Virtua Fighter has returned in all it's 3D fighting glory in the embodiment of the PS2 game Virtua Fighter 4.

VF4 continues Sega's fighting legacy, giving a swift kick to the balls of any other fighting game out there in the process. To put it simply VF4 0wnz j00 . (Translation: This game kicks butt.)

Graphically, VF4, in spite of it's case of the PS2 jaggies, is beautiful. I was left staring at the screen in awe as the characters splashed through ankle-deep water, which rippled and splashed as my little sister took advantage of my state of awe, and threw my character half way across the ring... FV4 not only has water, but also flaunts a snow covered ring which your characters leave footprints in as they beat each other senseless. This all is great, but it may be a bad thing... after all, you could end up like I did, staring at the TV in a dazed state of shock, not even noticing you're getting your beat up by your little sis... -sigh-

In terms of gameplay, VF4 is deep... VERY deep... Don't expect this to play like other fighters, because if you do you will get beaten down, and it will not be pretty. In other words, this game is a button-mashers nightmare. With only 3 buttons and the d-pad to enter your moves, things can get a little frustrating for those of us who aren't used to it. Luckily, VF4 offers training for all you who well... just don't get it. Training Mode comes in three different magically delicious versions; Command Training, which displays your characters moves onscreen one by one, allowing you to master all the moves necessary to dish out a serious beating; Free, which lets you beat the hell our of another character, without worrying about time limits or KOs; and finally, Trial, which is basically VF4 boot camp, running you through exercises and lessons, teaching you nearly everything you need to know to zoom up the Kumite rankings in no time.

Speaking of which, another gameplay mode offered is Kumite, a never-ending series of fights in which you attempt to move up ranks, winning special game stages, nostalgic character models, and numerous items to personalize your character's looks along the way.

Another interesting feature is the ability to create your own AI that learns to fight like you through sparring with you. While there isn't much of a point in fighting against your own AI, it might be fun to load yours onto your friends memory card or vice versa.

FV4 has a number of unique characters, so you can select one who suits you best. Here's a quick rundown of a few of my favorites:

Shun Di- A old Chinese man, who utilizes a fighting style that makes his opponents think he is drunk... or at least that's what the manual says... Could just be a bit of editing to keep the rating down though... His moves are VERY complex, so if you're a newbie, try someone like Pai instead.

Lau Chan- Lau is one of my favorites, and has been since I started playing VF. He has a wide variety of moves, ranging from the relatively simple, to the complicated and complex, making Lau a great character for nearly anyone.

Pai Chan- You may notice that Pai has many moves that are similar or identical to Lau's. This is because Lau is Pai's father. Pai is very quick and agile, able to throw together damaging combos with deadly speed. She, like Lau, possesses a wide variety of moves, making Pai simple enough for a VF newbie, and complex enough for a old VF player.

Vanessa- Vanessa is one of two characters new to VF, but this doesn't mean she can't dish it out like the other characters. Vanessa is one of the fastest characters in FV, but isn't quite as agile as the other female characters, remaining on the ground more than jumping into the air. She has two fighting stances, Mui Thai and Defensive (normal). Mui Thai allows her to move much faster, but not do as much damage than the normal stance. Because she requires you to think about which stance to use, when to attack, or what attack to use more than any other character, I think that Vanessa is only suitable for those who have got a grip on the game pretty well.

In closing, VF4 is by far, one of the most deep fighting games I've ever played (this from a guy who claims to not like fighting games all that much). If you own a PS2 and enjoy beating people senseless (sans-the senseless violence of GTA/State of Emergency), buy this game. Now.

Well, if you'll excuse me, Lau needs some exercise. VF4, here I come! ^_^

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/27/02, Updated 04/27/02

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