Complex, Concise, and Character
First and foremost I have been playing fighting games since Tekken back in the good 'ol days of the Playstation era and the Arcade era, back when people actually went to arcades on a regular basis. I was never really a Virtua Fighter fan at all (I had played it a couple of times on the Saturn and the arcade, but never got into it), however, back when Virtua Fighter 4 came out for the PS2 I decided to give a go. I was, bewildered by the sheer unique complexity of the game comparable to games like Tekken and Dead or Alive. I however, persevered and played it through until Tekken 5 came out, along with life intervening and multitudes of other things.
A few years later I got an Xbox 360, after I had saturated myself with Dead or Alive 4, I decided that it wasn't the game for me. I ventured forth to try out Virtua Fighter 5 Online. Once again, the same sheer unique complexity of the game reached out and slapped me in the face. I was daunted by the complexity of the combos, the conciseness of the execution of the grabs and reversals, and the terrible voice acting of the characters. So, now I've begun to get into the real meat of the review, and we'll start with the first "C" of the title:
The Fighting system-Every fighting game has its own unique idea of combos and the buttons associated with said controls. Virtua Fighter 5 Online has a pretty standard "Y=Punch, B=Kick, and X=Block". Where the complexity lies is in the combinations of said buttons used together and creatively according to the allocated combo system for the respective character. Each character has a unique set of moves associated with their respective martial art that is executed incredibly accurately in the animation to said martial art. Brad Burns (kickboxing) bobs and weaves, slicing with upper cuts and hooks, piercing with crosses and jabs; while Kage-Maru (Hagakure-ryu Ju-Jutsu) maneuvers like an acrobat, splitting the air with kicks, open-palm strikes, with incredible precision and deadliness.
The Art of Reversing and Grappling-Some fighting games pride themselves on their grappling (DOA), others pride themselves on their striking (Tekken), but none seem to do a great job of combining the beauty of both. Virtua Fighter 5 Online does such with a conciseness and accuracy unparalleled by any other 3D fighting game. In Virtua Fighter 5 Online, you have certain characters with certain very specific reversals and grabs tailored to that character's specific martial art style. I.E. Lau Chan (kickboxer) can do some neat grabs while cracking your rib cage with some lighting fast palm-strikes, while Goh (Judo) and Vanessa(Vale Tudo-Anything Goes) can pretty much reverse any strike you throw at them to their own advantage. It's all about how well and concise you execute these maneuvers. The reversals and how they're executed (via the actual button inputs and the animations) are so unique to every character that it'd be an doctorate dissertation just to explain them to you. So I'll spare you the time.
Well...Character, what more can be said?-The characters in Virtua Fighter 5 Online are just that, they're characters. Despite the horrific voice acting (which strangely grew on me, especially once you've decided to pick with a character and stick with said character), I believe that's what makes them unique and personable. These characters aren't meant to be the flashy and visceral (Tekken) or the bodacious and beautiful (Dead or Alive), they are meant to be realistic and down-to-Earth. These characters can then be customized with the aid of a very unique and pseudo-online mode called Quest Mode. This mode allows you to fight at local "venues" against opponents from all sorts of skills; every now and then you'll have a "tournament" that will allow you to win big cash and prizes. You can then upgrade your character's look and subtle icons (which have no effect on the character's abilities, it's all flair).
With most fighting games, you have pretty solid standards when it comes to what should be on the game in terms of playable content. Virtua Fighter pretty much has all that needs to be on a fighting game (including a ranked and casual online versus mode, unique to the Xbox 360 version). VF5 has:
Quest-Pseudo Online mode that allows you to battle the game's characters with unique aesthetics.
Dojo-Practicing your moves against a dummy, a playable 2nd player, or an A.I. controlled computer.
VFTV-This allows you to watch replays of online matches against other opponents.
Arcade-A standard arcade mode that allows you to right through a cast of enemies till you get to the indistinguishable boss.
Now, what everyone has probably been waiting for--the Cons:
1. The game's sound affects and voice acting is damn near sub-par. It's almost painful at first to hear the English voice-overs of certain characters.
2. To those who are looking for a casual button-mashing 3D fighter (DOA), this can be incredibly frustrating, as the kick button, usually only executes ONE type of kick and ONE animation.
3. The game's arenas can be a bit stale when compared to the likes of Dead or Alive/Soul Calibur IV. They are always in some sort of squared off area either with fences (high or medium) or no fences at all.
4. This may be a minor complaint, but the ending boss is well...damn-near-border-line absolutely absurd. You'll see what I mean when you get there. I don't really see how the boss has ANY relevance to the "story" of the game.
So there you have it. It was a bit lengthy, but I appreciate those who read it. This is my first review, and will not be my last. Hopefully down the road I will learn to perfect and hone my skills as a reviewer. Have fun gaming. See you online.