| The Good
´ Excellent graphics
´ Fighters have a wide variety of attacks
´ Lively stages and backgrounds
| The Bad
´ Jaggies, although practically unnoticeable
´ AI mode very confusing
´ Small number of fighters compared to other fighting
"The World Fighting Tournament: a worldwide competition
for fighters who believe in the superiority of their own fighting
skills and technique." This is how the manual describes
what Virtua Fighter 4 is about. It may seem simple
on the surface, but hidden beneath is a complex fighting game
that will take you a very long time to master each of the
All of the fighters from Virtua Fighter 3 are back,
along with two newcomers, Lei Fei and Vanessa Lewis. Each
fighter has a staggering number of moves they can perform,
an average of 77 distinct moves per fighter, and thatīs without
projectiles! Take that, Street Fighter! Vanessa Lewis
tops out at 123 moves, in case you were interested. This is
a very deep game that will take you a long time to master.
Graphics: This seems to be one of the focal points
about Virtua Fighter 4. First, because the graphics
are so stunning, but also because the game contains jaggies.
Well I'm here to tell you that the jaggies are there, but
there's no way you'll care about them while you're playing
this otherwise beautiful game. The environments are the highlight,
in my opinion. Snow, water, and sand are the three elements
you'll encounter on the floor of the fighting arena and each
are realistically recreated and interact with the battle taking
place. For example, when there is water on the floor, it splashes
up when you slam someone into the ground and when your fighters
move about the arena. In the snow arena, snow even gets trampled
down so you can trace your path in the arena and even work
the snow down to the wooden floor beneath. Wind and light
are also represented accurately, almost to the point where
you don't notice it because it's so natural.
The backgrounds are also alive with activity and add more
realism to each arena location. One arena is set in the middle
of a large aquarium, with fish and sharks swimming by as you
fight. Another arena is set amongst Roman-inspired pillars,
and lighting strikes these pillars as the match progresses.
Another arena is set in a cage surrounded by screaming fans,
and all the fans are separate, 3D polygonal entities instead
of the drab, one-dimensional bitmap fans we're used to seeing
in games like Madden. Really makes the crowd come to life!
With all this going on, you almost forget about how good
the fighters look. Very detailed faces and outfits, and the
fighting animations are very fluid. This game moves very fast,
and the character models don't miss a beat. Never any slowdown
or choppy framerate, no pop-ups, but there are jaggies. Barely
noticeable, but they're there. Like I said earlier though,
you won't even have time to notice or care about them.
Game Modes: As stated earlier, there are a lot of
moves to learn if you want to be a contender in Virtua
Fighter 4. Fortunately, there are three different training
modes to help you familiarize yourself with all the attacks,
throws, jump attacks, down attacks, rising attacks, and reversals.
Button mashing will get you through your first few matches,
but if you want to excel in Kumite mode, you'll need to practice
here a lot. The first Training Mode is Command mode, where
on-screen instructions walk you through all the moves your
fighter can perform. The next is Free mode, where you can
set up specific situations to train in. Finally, Trial mode
places you in certain battle situations and then explains
what you need to do. This mode focuses on repetition so the
moves get burned into your brain.
Arcade mode is just what it says - a direct translation of
the arcade version. Battle your way through the other fighters
for a chance to take on Dural.
Vs. mode is for when you have friends over. You and a friend
can battle using any of the 13 fighters, or load a built-up
fighter from your memory card. No tournament mode, but it
does keep track of wins for each player.
Kumite mode gives you an endless number of challengers and
is really the heart of the single player experience. Here
you can choose a fighter and increase their ranking, gain
special items, and save your fighter to the memory card.
AI System mode is perhaps the most confusing mode in the
game. You have two options, sparring and replay. In sparring,
you basically teach your AI character different moves and
combos. There's no winning or losing here, just teaching.
Once you feel your AI fighter has learned enough moves and
combos, you can go into reply and watch your AI character
fight. If your AI character performs a move you like, press
the circle button and your fighter will "remember" that move
and use it again. If you didn't like the move/combo, press
X and your fighter will know not to use that move again. An
odd mode that is not explained well at all in the manual,
and will take a lot of time to get your AI fighter any good.
Kind of a Tomogotchi mode for those interested.
Controls: The controls are very simple, it's just
how you use them in combination with each other to create
all your combos, throws, and reversals. There is one guard
button (square), one punch button (X), and one kick button
(circle). The triangle button acts as a secondary punch button,
and the shoulder buttons are simply combinations of the normal
buttons. For example, L1 is punch and guard together. Easy
controls to remember, but difficult to remember some of the
long move commands during the heat of battle.
Audio: Most of the battle tracks are laden with rock
guitar, which works with the fast-paced fighting. Sound effects
are very good for the hitting and environments (water splashing,
etc.). Voice-acting is good, but gets a little repetitive.
Thankfully, most of the talking only lasts a few seconds.
Not much to say in this game besides taunting the other fighters.
Overall, Virtua Fighter 4 is very well done and will
definitely please fans of the series and fighting fans in
general. There's really not much to complain about, unless
you're a graphics whore and can't get past the jaggies. Can
I say whore? Anyway, this is a very deep game that will take
you a long time to master your chosen character, and should
provide a balanced challenge all around.