Taking 3-D fighting to the next level

Alison Young
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February 23, 2007
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Since Sega’s first Virtua Fighter game came into the video game arcades in 1993 it has been part of the foundation of the 3D fighting game genre.

It was actually the very first 3D fighting game in the industry, and its fame hasn’t ceased (especially in Japan). It’s even on display in the Smithsonian Institute’s collection of Information Technology Innovation.

This apparent popularity continues as Sega released its latest Virtua Fighter 5 into the market this week on Feb. 20.

With Virtua Fighter 5, this series keeps you fight fans at the top of your game. Some additions include improved AI (artificial intelligence), new offensive moves (attack from the side or back), new fighting styles, real-time commentary, greater customization (unlock new items never offered before in other Virtua Fighter games) and on-screen comments (enter in your personal statements or a rally cry).

In previous Virtua Fighter games I’ve enjoyed playing, the characters are Pai Chan (action star), Akira (kung fu teacher) and Lei Fei (monk). Virtua Fighter 5 adds on two new fighters to the elite group, bringing the total to enter this Fifth World Fighting Tournament to 17.

The new gal Eileen (whom I mostly played for testing purposes) has two special moves - the Kou’ou Roukyu, a fast take-down throw with good range and surprise elements, and the Jinrai Santen, a basic one-two-three-hit combo that will knock an opponent down in the end.

The second new personality you’ll see is El Blaze. His two special moves are the Shutdown Knee, a one-two-three combo that staggers the opponent at the end allowing for a good follow up, and the High-Speed Huracan Rana, a fast take down throw that has very good range and surprise elements.

Whomever you decide to pick, you can outfit them in the costume of your choice. The more tournaments you win, the more money you will earn to buy items from the in-game shop. The AI in the game becomes significantly more difficult as you progress through the game. If you train in the Dojo quite a bit, you’ll be good to go, and ready to face the big league national tournaments to take your opponents down.

Gameplay modes include Arcade (seven stages against a variety of computer generated opponents), Versus (play against a live friend/opponent), Dojo (training) and Quest.

The Quest mode is interesting since it takes away the potential monotony of just beating up your opponents.

This gives you a roleplaying game type of experience that allows you to travel to other locations and face other AI opponents with varying skill levels. Success in these battles will advance your character’s rank, earn money, unlock emblems and win items to equip your fighter.

You definitely cannot complain about the impeccable graphics it shows off. You can see every last detail on Eileen’s face, down to individual eyelashes. On the downside, the game seems to lag a little bit. If I had to compare it to Tekken 5 (another 3D fighting game), it moves a little slowly. If you’re looking for a huge leap of a change from Virtua Fighter 4, you won’t find it. It seems Virtua Fighter 5 was a big improvement process rather than a jump to something different. Despite that, it won’t stop me from admiring the Virtua Fighter games, or this latest addition to the series.

Virtua Fighter 5 is currently available exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation 3, but an Xbox 360 version will be out there soon. You can find it at your nearest GameStop (www.gamestop.com), CompUSA (www.compusa.com) or Best Buy (www.bestbuy.com) for $59.99.

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