Virtua Fighter 5
A full 14 years after Virtua Fighter gave birth to the whole 3D fighting scene, Sega's franchise remains the most respectable way to get your face smashed in at the local arcade. While button-mashing noobs can achieve a modicum of success at the Tekkens and Mortal Kombats of the world, a skilled VF player can eviscerate uninitiated foes in seconds flat. This latest installment, VF5, doesn't tinker with the winning formula much at all--two new competitors, agile Mexican luchador El Blaze and spunky Monkey-Fist gal Eileen, join the diverse returning cast for another round of realistic 1-on-1 martial-arts action.
Looking back at the previous arcade-to-console VF ports, you'll notice that none of them truly replicate their coin-op cousin. VF4 and VF4: Evolution (both for PS2) came awfully close--visually, these games suffered only a slight downgrade during the trip home, and a bevy of new, clever singleplayer modes helped extend the games' appeal. But this VF finally matches the arcade version's good looks and, as expected, includes a large supply of additional features. "With the technological capabilities of the PS3, we really think we did a great job making it look exactly like the arcade version," explains VF5 Producer Noriyuki Shimoda. "Plus, we were able to add some features that are not included in the arcade version, such as the commentary mode and quest mode." Commentary mode adds real-time play-by-play by two announcers to either single or versus play. Some might find these quips a bit distracting, but the often funny and insightful wordplay actually personalizes the proceedings while dishing up trash-talking fodder. The quest mode brings back all the best aspects of VF4's beloved single-player game (A.I. opponents based on top VF players, plenty of tournaments to complete, and oodles of unlock-able outfits and accessories).
Sadly, fans' most requested feature--online play--isn't a possibility here. "Our stance still remains firm in regard to online play," Shimoda explains. "We are really focusing on making this game the perfect arcade conversion, which is unfortunately not possible with complete online yet because of the latency issues." Couldn't we at least have some sort of online lea-derboard system to help expand our VF5 bragging rights? Maybe that'll show up exclusively in the 360 version, which is due out this summer....