Wow. 10 years. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface yet with this fighter and I have played it a lot. I still ALWAYS have my Xbox 360 connected to a TV in the house for this game alone (and a few others). Granted, right when this came out I had my second kid crawling around, so there hasn’t been much time for serious fighting game play or practice.
I first played Virtua Fighter 2 in the arcade at the University of Florida (and later at the arcade in Madison, WI) and waited EAGERLY for it to come out on consoles. I could never get anyone to really play it with me a ton, and in the later 90’s we had TOBAL 2 which eclipsed everything. While I followed the series, I didn’t get into it again until VF4, which is amazing. The Kumite mode in that game really pushed it over the edge, where you go to different arcades and compete in different tournaments and the AI of the players follows the styles of various real people!
To put it in the most basic terms: VF5 is the greatest fighting game ever made.
- It’s very easy for new people to pick up (it only has three buttons!!!) and at the same time it is by far the deepest fighter I’ve ever played. Please see this essay on closed and open stances if you disagree.
- It’s not combo heavy. Like King of Fighters / Samurai Shodown, it’s got combos, but they are difficult to pull off and don’t dominate play.
- Every character is like a new world of gameplay. The difference in playing even Brad Burns vs Jacky, which in many other games would be almost palette swaps, is like the depth of the ocean. Let alone exceedingly different characters like Aoi and Wolf.
- It’s not a defensive, footsy game. Tekken and Street Fighter are footsy games. They are good games, but the footsy is really an annoying part of the game to me, especially in Tekken where you can full screen combo off a low kick.
- There are no tiers. Certainly there are character tiers at high level play, but you, my friend, will never notice them. If you get good with a character, you will be able to fight vs every other character. The last tournament I watched had a Jeffry (low tier) vs Akira (highest tier) IN THE FINAL.
- It has not been eclipsed by any other 3D fighting game. DOA and Tekken, while of course more popular at this time, are SHADOWS compared to Sega’s masterpiece. I like DOA 5 and 6, I think they are way more fun than Tekken, but I did the TASTE TEST with my kids and some neighbor kids and VF won out 100%. The only game that came close, for me (and notable others) was, of course, Tobal 2.
- It’s fast and it’s high damage. Rounds can last awhile or be over quick. This isn’t due to people being caught in endless combos like the Anime fighters, but due to general high damage of all the characters. Again, like King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown.
- Creative play. The core thing about Tobal and VF compared to a lot of fighters is their ability for players to play a single character in many different ways. Watch a mirror match up in VF and you won’t see the same play-styles or even the same moves. It’s insane and very different from a lot of the 2D fighters where you have your bread and butter comboes that you see constantly (and supermoves)
- NO meters, no super moves. Only one character has a meter-equivalent and that’s Shun, who gets drunk. All a character’s moves are available to use at all times otherwise. VF proves you don’t need that shit (though it is fun in 2d fighters) to have the best fighting game ever.
- Counter Picking – this is a big thing in King of Fighters and Street Fighter. Ryu beats Ken, Ken beats down everyone else. This is also a big part of Tekken. This has no part in VF, again, because VF effectively has no tiers.
- It has only three buttons
People still play, there are tournaments going on even now. This is from just the other day.
Watch in high level play in VF that the players keep their characters right near each other at all times. Look at ANY other fighting game and there’s a lot of long/medium play and when characters get close in it usually means someone is instantly full screen comboe’d. This is because the players are testing their Yomi vs what the other players will do with the whole guard, attack, throw rock paper scissors.
Platforms. VF5 has not been officially ported to the PS4 or XBONE. You can play it on PS Now (yuck) or buy it on the XBONE as a backwards compatible game. I believe most competitive play is on the PS3 still. So like Tobal 2 (the subject of another post) this is a game you have to work at getting to play.
So get your PS3, Xbox 360 or Yakuza on the PS4 and play some Virtua Fighter!