Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution
Virtua Fighter or Tekken, Virtua Fighteror Tekken… Daddy or chips. Life is full of tough decisions, some based on hard facts, others simply on tastes. Well, it seems that last time the titans clashed the majority of you good people went for the Namco brand, leaving VF4to become a bargain for some educated punters who noticed it glinting from the bottom of a bucket. So why did this happen? We’d say that Tekkenhas been synonymous with the PlayStation for years and years and many of you would have remained loyal because, hey, why take a risk. It’s not for us to say which game is better since opinion, even in this office, is divided. Of course, everybody is right, nobody is wrong so don’t take the review score to mean that this latest version of VFis worse or better than Namco’s puncher. It’s just different. And it’s great. So we’ll assume you’re not that savvy with the whole Virtua Fighterthing. What differentiates it from other fighting games? Well, the series was the first to enter the brave new world of 3D and so set the model for other games to follow and even copy. Any similarities between characters from Tekken and VFthen are purely intentional. What differentiates them is the control technique. Namco attributed each arm and leg to a face button while you move away from an opponent to block; SEGA gave us but three buttons to concern ourselves with – kick, punch and guard. Initially this may give the player the feeling that they don’t have access to that many moves, but they’d be wrong since there are literally hundreds to dish out by pulling off combos and stringing them together however you see fit. This lack of buttons and vast array of attacks makes the whole show not only much faster (you’re faced with less buttons to concern yourself with) but it also gives it arguably (we won’t argue – see above) a greater depth and artistry. And since the wonderfully motion-captured dances are far more pronounced and defined than those on display in Tekkenand don’t lean toward the fantastical that much (no teleporting space ninjas, no kicks that produce explosions) the whole show has a much greater Bruce Lee feel. So this is Virtua Fighter 4 evolutionand in keeping with the previous four games the most obvious new additions are two new characters in the bulky forms of Hoh Hinogami and Brad Burns. To be brutally honest we’re not too enamoured with these new chaps since they’re just not as fun to watch or play as the Jet Li-a-like monk Lei-Fei, or Vanessa Lewis, the triple-hard lass with the impossible abdominal muscles. And their fighting styles and therefore their use to balance a fight has already been covered by older favourites. So why buy this if you can find Virtua Fighter 4 for a bargain? Because it takes all the greatness of its predecessor and, for starters, cleans it up. The “jaggies” are gone and the graphics are more disciplined. Lighting has been improved, most notably in the level that features moving lighting sources courtesy of some helicopters spotlights. Tasty. But these are just aesthetic touches, so it’s good to see that the equilibrium between characters has also been tweaked. We could nail down more minor points, but it’s easy and correct to state that this is now a truly brilliant fighting experience with a greater sheen than before and with new fighting modes, which stop the product from being solely a great two-player experience. Now we come to the one problem with the game. This will sound pretty dumb, but here you go – it’s in Japanese. Yes, a Japanese import game features Japanese text – well knock us down with an oriental fighting fan. But this is a point since the new modes, story et alrequire you to understand descriptions and if you’re not au fait with the lingo then a great deal of time must be invested in deciphering what means what and what does which. It’s not all bad news on this front though. The game not only comes with a very nice laminated and rather spiffy manual (in Japanese, naturally), we’re also provided with a single sheet that covers the basic moves available in the game IN ENGLISH. Rule Britannia! We’ve had a great deal of pleasure at the hands of evolution, even those of us who still swear quite vehemently that Tekkenis ‘The Daddy’ (bonjour Chris) admitted that it’s a damn fine game with an extremely spicy one-more-go feel that shows up modern pretenders like Mortal Kombat as being decidedly lacking in comparison. If you buy on import, get it. If you’re not an import buyer then just relax in the knowledge that something very special is on its way. Virtua Fighter evolution– it’s like a finger pointing to the moon. Don’t look at the finger or you’ll miss all the heavenly glory. Not too sure what that last bit meant, it’s “zen” or somefink.