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1
Virtua Fighter 5
9.0
Sick
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Fighter
Release date: 10.30.2007
Earlier this year Virtua Fighter 5 was released exclusively on the PS3, and it was good, but it lacked one big feature that disappointed a lot of gamers, the ability to play online. For the months that followed, constant chatter unfolded over the web arguing whether online capabilities would actually even work properly in VF5, with Sony execs saying that there?s was the best version of the game available on a next-gen console. Well all of you who bought the PS3 version have been bamboozled, because after many months of tinkering Sega has finally released VF5 on the Xbox 360?and this time it?s ONLINE.

gameplay
There are two types of fighting games, the ones where you just keep hitting buttons until your opponent falls down, and then there?s the fighting game that requires you to become an artist behind the controller. The Virtua Fighter games are designed for those who expect absolute perfection in the virtual martial arts world, making it a science. In many ways VF5 is a next-gen remake of Virtua Fighter Evo, a PS2 game that most claim to be one of the best fighters developed. The main thing that sets the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions apart (besides online play) is the revision implemented into each console?s code. The PS3 uses revision B, and the Xbox 360 uses revision C, which is the latest arcade version that fixes some of the issues found in the previous build. More information on this can be found here.

All the main fighters have returned such as Kage Maru, Pai Than, and Akira Yuk; with two new fighters included, Eileen, and El Blaze, making the total roster 17 fighters in all. Just like the PS3 version, there is plenty to do offline in the Xbox 360 version to build up your skills. First there?s the arcade mode, which pits your fighter up against a series of opponents, each tougher than the next, until you work your way up to defeating the final boss. Of course there?s a Versus mode so you can smack-talk with a buddy on the sofa with you. Next there?s a Dojo mode where you can go to put your fighter through a series of fighting tests to build up the much needed skills you will need to progress as you get deeper into gameplay. Then there?s a really fun Quest mode where you venture through various virtual arcades and fight against different challengers to win money and unlock new items, such as costumes.

Arcade and Quest are the two modes where you?ll really earn your stripes as a fighter, learning to unleash your skills against the computer controlled AI, which at times can put up quite a challenge. As with all fighting games, the key is to play several rounds with each fighter so you can get a feel for who?s style you like the best. Once you?ve chosen the character that works for you, its time to do the homework, learning every possible combo he or she can do until it is woven deep into the tissues of your brain. This is the part that will take the most time, because no two fighters perform the same type of combo, and if you scroll through the combo list you will see that it is endless. This is especially highlighted in a mirror match, where either your AI or human controlled opponent will use the same character as you, and have access to the same list of combos. If your opponent drops low and attempts to sweep your legs to bring you down, you should know exactly how to avoid this, being that you?ve done the same move before on other opponents and should be prepared to retaliate.

Despite being different revisions, both the Xbox 360 and PS3 look and play smoothly delivering a solid fighting experience with brutal combat. In terms of graphics the Xbox 360 wins this round, mainly because it had more time to cook in the programmers? oven. Where the PS3 graphics are bright and over-colorful, the Xbox plays more with lights and shadows, so when a character such as Lei-Fei is wearing his monk outfit, just look at how the shadows settle between the layers of his robe. Also, in the stage where the characters fight with shallow water all around them, you'll notice how the light strikes it in a more realistic manner on the Xbox over the PS3. Again, the PS3 version looks great and can certainly handle the same type of light and shadow elements, but if the Sony boys pushed Sega to get the game on store shelves ASAP, there?s not much time for the fine tuning that went into the Xbox 360 version.



The one thing that does shine in favor of the PS3 version is the controller. Maybe we?ve just had so many more years with Sony?s controller, (Dual Shock ? Sixaxis?same controller, one just doesn?t rumble) that it?s become an external part of us. It?s just easy to go for hours at a time holding the PS3 controller rather than the Xbox 360 controller, which demands more of your grip. I?d like to believe I have normal sized hands, but after a few hours holding the Xbox controller trying to orchestrate kick-ass combos, I was screaming Carpal Tunnel. If you have access to a third party fight stick arcade controller for your Xbox 360, this is the game that will definitely make a lot of use out of it.

Obviously, the cherry on top for the Xbox 360 is the ability to take the action online, which is something that PS3 owners are just going to have to get some therapy and deal with it. The online mode is very simple, offering only ranked and unranked options that you can either join or create your own. You can set your fighter up in matches against opponents around the globe via Xbox Live for ultimate supremacy. A scoring system is in place letting you know how many wins and loses you or the person you select to fight has, as well as a fighting percentage ratio. So if your ratio is just 22% you may want to think twice about going up against someone with an 88% ratio, because if you lose your ratio will be lowered. This is a simple system but it does trigger very high competitive fever, because you will want to be the person way up there on the leaderboard.

The online fighting for the most part was lag free, playing and looking just as good as it does offline. Finding constant new opponents was disappointing, making me fight up against the same handful of players over and over again, but I?m sure this is a result of getting the game the first week of it?s release. Hopefully, in the weeks to come the online competition will be flooded to balance out the fight ratio. It would have been great if an instant rematch option was offered so you or an online opponent can decide whether to continue fighting in order to save face after being defeated, or just walk away. As it is now, as soon as the fight is done, you?re just thrown back to the main online menu to look for another opponent. There is also no career or tournament options online, which would have really broadened the playing field; instead you?re just performing as a freelancer going from fight to fight.

No matter which console you?re playing this on, you?re getting a solid game with intense fighting techniques and endless combos that will keep your thumbs on ice for a long time. Xbox 360 owners get an extra perk of being able to expand their competition on a global scale because of the online capabilities, which is a definite plus. VF5 is not for the casual gamer; it?s for the hardcore fighter fans that know these characters as if they?re apart of their bloodline. Next time you see someone playing this game, just look at their face and you will not see someone who?s smiling like an idiot as if they?re playing Wii Tennis, you?re looking into the eyes of an artist trying pull off their most perfect combo?Ever!
graphics
If you?ve got an HDTV, both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions make for great show off material displaying some of the best visuals in a fighting game to date. The Xbox 360 version offers more details, featuring spectacular lighting effects that are very noticeable if you were to play each version side-by-side. The backgrounds on both look very impressive, but they are nothing more than eye candy because you?re limited to just the ring area you?re fighting in. It would have been nice if the backgrounds were more interactive such as in the Dead or Alive games where if you fall off a cliff, the character travels with the environment to continue the fight on a new plateau. On the Xbox 360, the graphics remain intact online, and as of this writing there have been no issues with lag, so the long delay between the release of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions worked out very well.

sound
Kicks, punches, grunts, crazy techno music, and laughable English dialogue?Basically a fighting game. This one won?t win any prizes for sound design, but you?re not playing this game to test your speakers; this is an ass-kicking simulator. For some reason all fighting games from Japan sound exactly the same; seriously, if you had DOA, VF and Tekken all playing simultaneously in the same room with your eyes closed, would you know the difference?
replay value
Mastering combos, and unlocking prizes and costumes will keep you going for a while, especially since there are 17 characters to choose from. Arcade, Dojo, and Quest can always be revisited to learn a few new tricks, and the Xbox 360?s online features add another layer to the expansion of the game. Those of you who want to see your greatest takedowns can always watch them on VF.TV, which is basically a movie viewer where you can save your greatest hits. Die hard fighting fans will definitely have this disc spinning in their console for a long time.
bottom line
Any Xbox 360 owner who loves fighting games must have Virtua Fighter 5 in their collection, not only because it?s online and 1-Ups the PS3 version, but because is a great fighting game. Who knows what Sega has in mind for the sixth Virtua Fighter, but it has to include beefier online options, and of course new characters. For now VF5 is the perfect adrenaline rush and thumb breaker that we gamers crave for; particularly the Xbox crowd who now know that good things come to those who wait.

Check out our PlayStation 3 review of Virtua Fighter 5.
Review by: Johnny McNair
Posted: 11/30/1999
Gameplay:
9.5
Graphics:
9.0
Sound:
7.5
Replay Value:
9.0
Bottom Line:
9.0
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