X3F hands-on: Virtua Fighter 5
We spent the better part of this morning wrapping our fingers around the new Virtua Fighter 5 demo on Xbox Live Marketplace. If you're familiar with the series, you can probably stop reading this right now. You know what to expect, and you know that you'll love it. For all the other fighting game fans out there, as well as fans of pretty games in general, go ahead and read our thoughts on the demo. You can find them after the break.
First of all, the game is gorgeous. The character models are damned near perfect and there is not a jaggy, pixelated line in sight. That's not to say everything is perfect, though. Frankly, we find Sarah's idle animation to look a little otherworldly, as though she's floating more than hopping. Still, the fighting animation is top notch and easily on par with Dead or Alive. In fact, the graphics actually surpass Dead or Alive's if we're considering realism as a standard. Virtua Fighter's characters feel much more real than the stylized look of DOA's buxom heroines and rippling heroes (Gen Fu and Eliot notwithstanding).
That won't be the last time we compare the game to Dead or Alive either. The comparison has been raised ever since the first Dead or Alive title was released (using the same arcade technology as Virtua Fighter 2 no less). The games use identical button schemes, with separate buttons for punching, kicking, and defending. Players can walk in eight directions using the D-pad or control stick. Where Dead or Alive relies on quick and flashy (albeit satisfying) combos and reversals as its bread and butter, Virtua Fighter 5 is a much more technical fighter. With every character having literally dozens of moves, the game is about utilizing openings in your opponent's defense and anticipating his moves. Virtua Fighter doesn't have the instant appeal of Dead or Alive (button mashing will get you nowhere), but it's incredibly involving once you master a few moves.
Unfortunately, that's where the 360 version sort of breaks down. The Xbox 360 D-pad is just woefully inadequate for the precise control demanded by Virtua Fighter 5. Too often we found our D-pad inputs read as something different than we intended. This can result in the wrong move being performed, or worse, no move at all. When almost every move has a specific function (closing distance, retreat, breaking crouch guard, etc), pulling out the wrong one can result in a lost match. Also, fighting games just weren't made with gamepads in mind, as pressing multiple buttons with your thumb can be tricky. Sure, you can spider your fingers over the top of the controller, or make use of the triggers and shoulder buttons as shortcuts, but it just doesn't feel right. Still, this is hardly the game's fault, and a good joystick will solve those problems immediately. What's that? You say there's a stick just for Virtua Fighter 5? Oh, good.
The demo doesn't have online play, though Versus mode is intact. Versus mode has an interesting commentary feature in which two commentators, um, comment on the action as it unfolds. It's a unique feature, but we imagine we'll be turning it off after a few matches. Once you hear "Ooh, Player 2 can't afford to lose" for the fifth time, we imagine most other players will too. Still, if you like feeling so important that people are actually watching you play a video game, the commentary feature might fool you for a little while.
All in all, the demo really has us pumped for the full game, which will be hitting shelves later this month. If you're a fan of the series, you should definitely check it out. If you like fighting games at all, you should at least give it a try. If you're new to the series, we suggest you pick Sarah as your first character, as she gives you the most bang for your combo buck.
Feel free to agree, disagree, or complain that we didn't use this article as a way to lavish praise on Mortal Kombat in the comments.
Reader Comments (Page 1 of 2)
10-12-2007 @ 6:00PM
why didn't you use this article as a way to lavish praise on Mortal Kombat?
10-12-2007 @ 7:15PM
Uh, yeah, the demo wasn't that great, I had no idea what I was doing and easily beat the other fighter, and this isn't an ego thing, it really was way too easy. I hope there's a difference in the real game.
10-12-2007 @ 7:15PM
I'm definitely getting it. Awesome game and awesome series. Too bad the demo is so easy. If it was harder I could replay it without getting bored.
10-12-2007 @ 7:24PM
Otis Whitaker said...
The real game is harder, much harder.
The VF series has some of the best single player AI ever made... infact, as far as fighters go, it has probably the deepest single player ever made.
10-12-2007 @ 8:31PM
"Unfortunately, that's where the 360 version sort of breaks down. The Xbox 360 D-pad is just woefully inadequate for the precise control demanded by Virtua Fighter 5"
it wasnt much beter on the PS3, but atleast here you can use the Stick, and an arcade stick is available. The 360 version is the better version in everyway, graphics, gameplay, AI, Features and content. And it should be better, its been on PS3 for months now.
10-12-2007 @ 9:16PM
i honestly suck at the arcade sticks. i've grown accustomed to playing fighting games with the PS2 D-pad and using the triggers for quick moves.
i could use the stick on the 360 pad...but something didn't feel right when compared to the PS2/3 pad for this game.
anybody know a good converter besides this one:
i don't really want to spend the 52 LBs. or $80 to import it!
10-12-2007 @ 11:22PM
Here's the BEST way to play a Virtua Fighter game, hands down:
10-12-2007 @ 11:46PM
Nice. but i think you meant this:
10-13-2007 @ 12:36AM
Even sanding down the 360 pad, I've never been totally happy with it. I can't stand the PS2 d-pad either, though, so in that sense it's kind of lose-lose for me.
10-13-2007 @ 12:44AM
I might try this :)
10-13-2007 @ 8:05AM
this game is sick!! I played a demo, and its off the chain!
10-13-2007 @ 10:30AM
Brucie B said...
Not Impressed... I'll wait for SC
10-13-2007 @ 12:45PM
i wasn't impressed, because i was so impressed with the PS3 version. but i'm glad it's coming to 360. if your not a fan of the series, this game wont turn you. same cheesy characters, incredibly deep combat. it is called "virtua" after all.
ive been playing more of the demo and am actually getting used to the analog stick of the 360 pad. it's longer of a response time than a d-pad, but it's workable. ill get it.
10-13-2007 @ 6:37PM
jules c said...
Vf5, yawnnnnn. Just tell the truth please, ok i will this game is DOA 1 through 4 and those all were horrible games. We did not need this on our system, it sucks anyway. Ms should have let ps3 keep this garbage and give us a true nextgen game. Do not buy this untill it goes down to 20 bucks!!!
10-13-2007 @ 6:52PM
The Demo sucks. Graphics look great but it feels like the same game from 12 years ago. I can't wait for Soul Calibur. That game is always refreshing.
10-13-2007 @ 8:52PM
DOA-basic formula since DOA2 on DreamCast
Soul Calibur- same since SC for DreamCast
same goes for Tekken, same for VF5.
i have to say that VF5 is heaps and bounds faster than VF4.
i happen to like all these fighting games. each iteration gives me new characters, graphics movesets and costumes. each one feels refreshing to me.
so how is it Soul Calibur is more refreshing if it basically is the same game from Dreamcast days?
10-14-2007 @ 8:02AM
Anyone who talks down to VF5 compared to other fighters do so for one reason only: They suck at it. VF is boring because it's hard. Sure the AI in the demo is hilariously simple, but when you get to the good AI players later in the game... good god. VF4 is no doubt the hardest fighting game ever, and I have no doubt VF5 will also be hilariously hard.
10-14-2007 @ 12:36PM
agreed wholeheartedly Tobbertooth.
what i truly feel about Virtua Fighter is that it is the one fighting game, where you get good at it, you automatically get good at all fighting games. with the exception of memorizing 10-hit combo juggles.
VF5 should have some really sick AI Champs that will for sure boost your awareness and breadth of skill.
10-14-2007 @ 3:01PM
10-14-2007 @ 5:09PM
hahaha, wow. boring eh? yeah i'd agree the demo was a bit boring. but playing against another player never gets old, regardless of what fighting game you are playing. is it because the fighters don't use weapons? or that everyone is not a Jiggling Ninja girl?
just do everyone a favor and don't get the game.