Ever since word hit that Sega's Virtua Fighter 5 would be getting an Xbox 360 version in addition to the PS3 version released earlier this year, there's been much curiosity as to how the game was going to turn out on Microsoft's platform. The original arcade version of VF5 was developed on Sega's Lindbergh arcade hardware, which Sega reps had noted made converting games to the PlayStation 3 a pretty easy affair. This seemed to be supported by the striking PlayStation 3 version, which of course raised the question of how the Xbox 360 game would make out. Sega dropped by today to demo a work-in-progress version of the 360 game--the first playable incarnation--and we got an answer. Though the game is still early, with the expected rough edges, we do have to say we're quite impressed by how it showed.
The early version of VF5 already had the game's roster of 17 fighters playable--though we weren't able to get our mitts on the controller to try it out firsthand--and all four game modes seen in the PS3 game, arcade, versus, quest, and dojo, were included. Though our first barrage of questions to the Sega reps targeted specifics on what's being added or tweaked in the game over the PlayStation 3 version, we didn't get a ton of answers. The info we did get was basic overall, with some interesting tidbits thrown in. To sum up, the game will have 720p support and offer the core content found in the PS3 game.
In addition, the team is improving the artificial intelligence, as well as adding analog stick support and rumble. The dojo mode will now feature exact recoveries to help you perfect your timing and let you change your starting position if you so desire. Though this isn't related to the software, Sega noted that Hori is planning to release a fighting stick for the game in the US. The questions that got no comments and "wait for E3" replies focused on if there were any new modes being included, support for downloadable content, Xbox Live support of any kind, or anything else cool being tossed into the game. We'll cross our fingers and hope for the best.
The graphics will surely be the most scrutinized aspect of the game, and they're looking surprisingly good for being in such an early state. We didn't totally geek out and bust out the magnifying glass and calipers to pore over the game's visuals, but we did do a bit of nitpicking. So far everything looks very, very close to the PlayStation 3 version and, in a few spots, just as good. Aliasing even seemed to be a bit cleaner on the bitmap portions of the backgrounds, such as Jeffrey's island stage. The overall texture quality was good, though some needed refining here and there. Color in the game stood out a bit; depending on the stage, the palette seemed to be a bit on the dark side and didn't pop quite as much as the PS3 game, but the game is still early and sure to be obsessed over by the dev team until it meets AM2's standards.
Based on what we saw, Virtua Fighter 5 is shaping up to be a solid conversion of the arcade and PlayStation 3 games. The visuals could use some polishing, but they already look very close to those of the PlayStation 3 game. We can't comment specifically on gameplay until we try the game out ourselves, but it seems to move as speedily as the PS3 iteration, and the fighters animate smoothly. We have a raft of specific questions about the various enhancements the game is set to have, but since Sega wasn't talking specifics yet, we'll just have to hope AM2 is going to do more than port the PS3 game. Virtua Fighter 5 is slated to ship later this summer for the Xbox 360. Look for more on the game from this year's E3 and in the coming weeks.