Review by CKallander

"Longest most in-depth review"

Before I begin, I must say that this game has changed the way I rate, play and view fighting games as a whole. And let me just say right now, if you're a button smasher than I hate you, but more importantly you will get no where in this game.

Graphics(8)- this is probably the most controversial part of the game. It all depends on how much you hate jaggies. At first glance you might say ''what jaggies'' but when you get a good look at a close up pictures of one of the characters they'll really stand out. But most action isn't up close and they hardly detract from the game-play. On another note all the character models have so much detail and move so fluidly during combat you could care less about jaggies. The arenas and stages are especially beautiful and feature a large amount of eye candy. They're considerably varied weather you're battling over a sandy beach or knee deep in snow. The most spectacular is a roman coliseum in which lightning is shattering almost every statue and building in the background. Sega obviously could have worked on the jaggies a little longer, but it doesn't downgrade any aspect of the game enough to be any real nuisance.

Audio(9)- I personally really like the different tunes in this game. The characters give enough battle cry's during play and of course punches and kicks are over-emphasized as most fighters are. What really catches my fancy are the metal rifts in certain levels, and then the completely different almost classical / techno rhythms found in say an aquarium stage. It's really quite original and blends in perfectly in accordance to each arena. Overall the audio really excels in this game.

Story(7)- most fighters really don't center around a story and VF4 is no exception. In fact there is nothing in the game that remotely relates to any type of story whatsoever. Most fighter games have a little fmv sequence at the end when you complete arcade mode, but there's nothing in VF4. The only story element is in the instruction booklet. I wont go into it here, but you can rest assure that it's nothing significant. Still it would have been nice to see something when you beat arcade mode even if it was just for graphical entertainment.

Gameplay(9)- if you stripped away everything mentioned above from this game, you would find the core element that links it all together still intact. Or in other words the actual gameplay of this game is pure entertainment and yet very complex as well. Only determined fighter fans will tap into this transcendently deep gameplay know as VF4. To demonstrate as best I can to you, I will now tell you a story that happen to me recently. ''As I look to my decreasing health bar, and then to my enemies, I realize that all I need is to land one last kick for it all to be over. I rebound from a ferocious throw and do my spin kick right as she runs at me. For a brief second I sigh in relief, and then realize she has not been defeated, but she is in the process of countering my kick. As she holds my leg in her hands I scramble for the controller once more. She proceeds to bend over and flip me about her back. I however counter her counter, and instead of landing hard on my back, I land on my feet. At this point she is facing my back and I am turned away from her facing a fenced wall. Before she can recover I jump against the wall turn around in mid air and land a ravage blow right as she is getting up.'' Ladies and gentalmen...that is how deep this game is.

Besides the intense gameplay the controls help to create the perfect fighting machine for any one who picks up the controller. There's a punch, kick, and guard button. Different combinations of the three are an integral part of mastering a character. Luckily you can fully customize the controller in any way you see fit. Everything responds well as you'd expect.

The modes in this game are varied and add to the overall package. There's your standard arcade, vs, and training. By the way the training mode is the most intricate and most useful of any training mode in any fighter ever. There's a unique mode called kumite that sets you against a series of never-ending matches. This is where you gain ranks and items to customize you're character. There's abut 30 items for each fighter and collecting them is no small feat. It will take countless hours against many foes, but will be well worth it. How many fighters can you think of that let you fully customize your character. And when you do start to accumulate a few items and outfits, it'll truly be your character. The other most innovative mode to grace a system so far is Sparing. In this mode you train a computer AI. You teach him everything he knows, and then put him through Kumite or against one of your friends, yourself, or your friend's AI character. It's pretty pointless but still entertaining as always. It'll never forget the day my own pupil whooped the crap out of me. It was pretty degrading

Conclusion: Everyone who is the least bit interested in fighting games owe it to themselves to give Virtua Fighter 4 a rent at the least. And if most of your game library consists of fighters, then you'll defiantly find this game profound and rewarding. If you can get past a few jaggies you'll find this to be one of the best fighters since Soul Caliber.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/22/02, Updated 06/22/02

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