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Kick punch it's all in the mind, is what Chop Chop Master Onion would say.
I know it has seems like forever since there has been a new Virtua Fighter on a home console, in fact the last one that graced our presence was on the now deceased Dreamcast (god rest it's little soul). Now after waiting and anticipating what Sega's flagship fighter was going to look and play like on another console we are presented with Virtua Fighter 4 for the PS2. Does it retain the glory the franchise has always carried with it?
First let's start off with the basics, VF4 has taken a different route from the previous installment. The first thing you will notice is that the evade button has been removed once again bringing us down to only three buttons like VF and VF2 before it. Also the reversal and guard system seems more finely tuned and handles itself very well with the Dual Shock 2 pad. Combos now rely more on timing than anything else. Throwing is also refined, instead of hoping you have to time it just right and which throw you want to execute or the AI will smack you down. Speaking of AI...
That is one of the coolest features of VF4, the AI characters. Not only is the traditional computer very smart, it can learn how you fight and learn to counter you, you can also build your own AI character based on your skills. You slowly build a character from scratch and the game records your progress, so if your friends come over you can match them up against your created AI character and see if they can outwit your AI haha cool feature. Not to mention as you build up your character you earn rankings and special items to customize your character along the way.
Now let's talk about the graphics, this is where the game doesn't quite shine with the rest of the fighters on the market. Now do not get me wrong this game is gorgeous, but when compared to DOA3 or even Soul Calibur the jaggies really hurt this title. Character models are finely detailed and have free flowing hair and reflective clothing which is very nice. The stages have gone back to the traditional flat style VF is known for. BTW Ring Outs are a bitch hehe. AM2 did an amazing job converting this game to the PS2, but it does show in many places that this is in fact not a perfect arcade translation. The PS2 just cannot handle the Naomi2 hardware, jaggies anyone?
Overall this game is a finely crafter work of art. The VF series has returned with a vengeance and is ready to rumble. If you are a die hard fighting game fanatic like me you will appreciate the strategy involved with this title. Everyone knows that VF is the "thinking man's" fighting game and VF4 is no exception. Casual fighting game fans need not apply as VF4 takes years to master. Good luck grasshopper as next time we meet Master ZT gonna whup some ass. ZT over and out!