Virtua Fighter 5 is a 3D fighting game developed by SEGA-AM2 and distributed by Sega. Location testing began on November 26, 2005, followed by a nationwide release for Japanese arcades on July 12, 2006, and then a worldwide arcade release shortly thereafter. The fifth major release in the series, it is the successor to Virtua Fighter 4 (2001).
The game went through multiple revisions, including Revision B, Revision C, Revision D, Virtua Fighter 5 R, and Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. The Revision B version was ported to the PlayStation 3 worldwide on February 2007, while the Revision C version was ported to the Xbox 360 on October 2007 (under the title of "Virtua Fighter 5 Online" worldwide, and "Virtua Fighter 5 Live Arena" in Japan). The Xbox 360 version features online play via Xbox Live along with numerous bugfixes and improvements. The game is popular in Japanese arcades, as players use "IC Cards" to store custom player data (appearance, name, emblems, etc.) and manage their persistent battle stats.
The story is minimal and revolves around the Fifth World Fighting Tournament, where the 17 best fighters in the world have been called to attend. The Judgement 6 (J6) organization continues its plans for world domination via their cutting-edge fighting machine, Dural.
The original arcade version of Virtua Fighter 5 was a debut title for the Sega Lindbergh arcade system board, along with The House of the Dead 4, also released in 2005.
Virtua Fighter 5 significantly increased the polygon counts over its predecessor. According to Sega, each character in Virtua Fighter 5 uses over 40,000 polygons and each background uses up to 300,000 polygons, with diffuse reflection, specular reflection, bump mapping, and normal mapping, at 60 frames per second. This was the highest character polygon count at the time, giving it the most detailed character graphics of its time. In comparison, the Xbox 360 game Gears of War used 10,000 to 15,000 polygons for its characters in 2006 and even the PC game Crysis used 24,000 polygons for its characters in 2007. Virtua Fighter 5's character polygon count was unsurpassed until Ninja Gaiden II in 2008.
Like its predecessors, Virtua Fighter 5 was considered to have the most advanced graphics in a video game when it first released in arcades. According to 1UP in 2005, it was the "best looking fighter (or even game) ever", with the writer Shivam Bhatt stating:
"Sega makes grand use of its new Lindbergh hardware, and it really shines through in their character models and level designs. In the City level, the fight takes place on wet pavement scattered with puddles all around. These puddles react and reflect in a remarkably realistic manner as the fighters run around the room. The Temple level features fallen sakura blossoms that fly around whenever the characters move. Each level features lots of neat visual tricks like this, adding to the overall appeal of the game."
"Of course, one only noticed such things if they could peel their eyes off of the amazing new character models. ... The characters of VF5 are of that caliber, with amazingly realistic muscle tone, skin shading, sweat, and motions. Jeffrey benefits a lot from this upgrade, as the individual hairs on his arms are shown in remarkable detail. ... I lost a match simply because I was too busy staring at Lei Fei and Lion move around the arena in a fluid dance. Even button mashing looks pretty, as every move links into the next smoothly, without sudden jerkiness as the game reacts to each button press."
According to GamersXtreme in 2012, the game's graphics "still holds up to today’s standards, and in some ways still surpasses them", and "lighting effects are absolutely phenomenal, even by today’s standards."
Virtua Fighter 5 plays like a traditional Virtua Fighter game. There are three color-coded buttons: Guard (green), Punch (blue), and Kick (red). Players perform joystick and button combinations to create strings of attacks, which can be blocked, countered, evaded, or outtimed by a faster attack. The moves are very technical and require much attention to the character's orientation. Each character has a wide array of unique moves, some relying on quick hits and evasion while others relying on strong attacks and throws.
There are two types of Arcade Modes: Normal and Score Attack. Both work pretty much the same: the player chooses a fighter and progresses through the game before a bonus round with Dural. Score Attack, however, always uses the default settings and contains online leaderboards (for the Xbox 360 version).
Standard versus mode that can be played locally or online via Xbox Live (in the Xbox 360 version). This is the only mode other than Quest Mode where players with custom characters can change their rank and earn items. (Online play uses its own separate rankings for ranked matches).
The major single-player mode in Virtua Fighter 5 is Quest Mode, which is a simulation of playing in Japanese arcades. Players use their character data to travel through many arcades, defeating rivals and winning (or losing) tournaments. There are hundreds of rivals to play against, each varying in difficulty, play style and character data (including appearances, emblems, and pre-fight quotes).
The locations include the Home (which allows you to adjust certain settings and check Quest Mode status), the Event Square (where "official" big tournaments are held), and seven arcades, each with over 130 unique computer players varying in ranking. Each arcade has three free units with an opponent. On some occasions, arenas would have small tournaments with prizes of either gold, an emblem, or an item. Defeating all rivals in an arcade in the Xbox 360 version earns an achievement.
- Sega Arena Coast - Easiest. Mostly beginning players.
- Club Sega Downtown - Mostly beginning and intermediate players.
- Club Sega Bay Area - Mostly intermediate players.
- Sega World Route 101 - Mostly intermediate and advanced players.
- Sega World North - Mostly advanced players.
- Sega Arena East - Wide variety of players.
- Sega World South - Hardest. Mostly elite players.
On certain occasions (when the player has reached certain ranks), the Event Square would announce a big tournament. Unlike tournaments from arenas, the player can retry the same tournament over and over until placed in the top three. Tournaments are single-elimination, and players who lose the semi-finals can battle the other loser for 3rd place. Being in the top three of a tournament allows the player to proceed into future big tournaments. (As well as earning an achievement for the Xbox 360 version, with the exception of Virtua Fighter World Tournament)
- Beginner's Try - 8 participants.
- Amateur's Tournament - 8 participants.
- Challenger's Cup - 16 participants.
- Virtua Fighter Championship - 16 participants.
- VF Climax - 16 participants.
- VF Battle Masters - 16 participants.
- Virtua Fighter World Tournament - 32 participants.
- Virtua Fighter World Tournament Finals - 32 participants.
The game's training mode includes three selectable game modes taking place in the Dojo stage:
- Command Training - Against a non-moving Dural, players perform every move in their command list consecutively. (Though they can skip moves if they find one to be difficult)
- Free Training - Standard training mode with customizable settings such as the opponent's character (and who controls it) and which Dojo stage to use.
- Command Time Attack - Same as Command Training, only you cannot skip moves and you are timed. Contains online leaderboards in the Xbox 360 version.
Basic "watch mode" where players can watch replays of previous matches, watch exhibition matches between two computer opponents (including Continuous and Random Continuous options), watch promotional material for Virtua Fighter 5, and view online/offline leaderboards.
Players with custom character data can use the Customization Mode (which is also accessible in Quest Mode) to customize their character's appearance, emblem (icons that show up next to your name in matches), and pre-fight quote.
On certain occasions in VS. Mode and Quest Mode, battles turn into Item Battles, which contain a treasure chest. Defeating that opponent earns the player whatever is in the chest, whether it's gold, an item, or a disc orb. Whenever players collect seven disc orbs, they will receive a special item. Players can use gold to buy new clothing items for their character in the Item Shop.
Each character data in offline mode (and gamertag in online mode) start off as the lowest ranking: Tenth Kyu. As they defeat opponents of similar ranking, their experience bar fills. As they get defeated by opponents of similar ranking, their experience bar drains. When their experience bar is nearly full or empty, they will fight a Ranking Match, which indicates whether winning will promote them or losing will demote them. The ranks are the following (in order):
- Tenth Kyu, Ninth Kyu, Eighth Kyu, ..., First Kyu
- First Dan, Second Dan, Third Dan, ..., Tenth Dan
- Master (must defeat five Tenth Dans in a row to be promoted, lose to one and get demoted)
- Defender (<70% win rate) / Hunter (70%-80% win rate) / Warrior (>80% win rate)
- Enforcer (<70% win rate) / Raider (70%-80% win rate) / Veteran (>80% win rate)
- Sentinel (<70% win rate) / Barbarian (70%-80% win rate) / Gladiator (>80% win rate)
- Protector (<70% win rate) / Assassin (70%-80% win rate) / Vindicator (>80% win rate)
- Guardian (<70% win rate) / Slayer (70%-80% win rate) / Avenger (>80% win rate)
- Paladin (<70% win rate) / Berserker (70%-80% win rate) / Vanquisher (>80% win rate)
- Liberator (<70% win rate) / Destroyer (70%-80% win rate) / Conqueror (>80% win rate)
The game features 17 playable characters and 1 boss opponent (Dural) that can only be unlocked as a playable character in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions by completing Arcade Mode with each of the 17 characters once. All of the characters from Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution remain, with the addition of Eileen, a young fighter who uses Monkey-style Kung Fu, and El Blaze, a lucha libre wrestler.
Each character has two default costumes (A and B) with two unlockable costumes (C, which can only be unlocked for custom characters by reaching the rank of 1st Dan, and D, which can only be unlocked for custom characters by completing an "orb disc"). With custom characters, players choose a main costume and a sub-costume (in case your opponent uses the same character with the same costume).
There are three types of stages in Virtua Fighter 5: Open, Fence, and High-Fence. Each vary in size and difficulty to get knocked out of the ring. Open areas are larger and easy to knock others out of the ring while High-Fence areas are smaller and impossible to knock others out of the ring. Each character has their own stage (though in VS. matches, they are randomized or player-selectable)
The Dojo stages are only unlockable in Home versions by completing Command Time Attack mode with any character.
Open (53' x 53')
- Aurora (Sarah Bryant)
- Island (Jeffry McWild)
- Sanctuary (Dural)
- Waterfalls (Vanessa Lewis)
- River (Shun Di)
- Great Wall (Lau Chan)
Fence (40' x 40')
- Palace (Lion Rafale)
- Deep Mountain (Lei-Fei)
- Shrine (Aoi Umenokouji)
- Temple (Kage-Maru)
- Terrace (Brad Burns)
High-Fence (33' x 33')
- City (Jacky Bryant)
- Abandoned Dojo (Goh Hinogami)
- Arena (El Blaze)
- Stone Forest (Pai Chan)
- Snow Mountain (Wolf Hawkfield)
- Ruins (Eileen)