skrutop's Virtua Fighter 4 (PlayStation 2) review

VF4 is a good fighting game, but Tekken 5 is better.

I played a lot of Virtua Fighter 2 years ago. However, I never fell in love with the series; I was always a Tekken fan. When I bought VF4 for the PS2, I was determined not to compare it to Tekken. But I just couldn’t do it. VF4 is a great fighting game, but it’s not as good as Tekken.

First off, the character roster in Virtua Fighter is much smaller than Tekken’s (depending on the version). You might make the argument that the VF crew have many more moves and subtleties to master. However, I didn’t find that to be the case. As I learned their moves, I realized that there’s a small subset that are useful in a fight. Tekken suffers from the same affliction, as a lot of character moves are too difficult or slow to pull off in the heat of battle. So, you and your friends will jam on the same combos until someone falls. With fewer characters to master, there’s even less variety in the combat. The new character Veronica, is especially cheap as she will counter a lot attacks without any button input. Sure, you can get around this pretty easily, but it’s frustrating to have a character who can catch your leg without even hitting a button.

Combat itself is as smooth and controlled as it ever was. The VF series has consistently had great controls, and you characters respond quickly to any input that you tap. The move sets for the characters seem to have been sped up as well, which makes battles more frantic and fun. The computer gets nice and hard to fool as you progress through the story mode, though the AI can never compare to a human. I found VF’s combat to be pretty simplified compared to Tekken, but there are some thing about Tekken’s controls that I’ve taken issue with as well (for instance, left punch+right kick moves are hard to pull off on the PS2 controller). I’ll concede that combat comparisons are a matter of personal taste. I just like Tekken’s better overall.

The graphics are great on this game. I like Tekken’s character models a little more, but VF4 boasts some great visuals. You can also customize your characters with different colored outfits and accessories. This is basically a throw-away feature, but it can add a bit of personality to your characters. The backgrounds are also very good, though not distracting.

I’m sure that a lot of VF purists would tell me that I’m way off base with saying that Tekken is a better fighting game. However, I did try VF4 and it wasn’t to my tastes. I doubt that there will be a clear winner between these franchises, but for my part I can’t call VF4 a better game. However, I can say that it is very good.

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