Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution Review
This highly technical, complex yet accessible, genuinely entertaining fighting game should belong to anyone with any interest in the genre.
Though it was released a year and a half ago, Virtua Fighter 4 remains the overall best fighting game currently available on any platform. Actually, technically, it isn't--that honor now belongs to Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, a suitably impressive follow-up to last year's game. VF4: Evolution is part of Sony's $20 "Greatest Hits" collection right out the gate, presumably due to the success of last year's game, but it isn't just a rerelease for those who might have missed out on VF4. This highly technical, complex yet accessible, genuinely entertaining fighting game should belong to anyone with any interest in the genre.
The most obvious difference between VF4: Evolution and its predecessor is that the newer version features two brand-new characters, for a total of 15 different selectable fighters. The newcomers are Brad Burns, a thuggish kickboxer, and Goh Hinogami, a freaky-looking judo fighter. Brad and Goh actually seem a little out of place among Virtua Fighter 4's fairly straightforward but now-classic cast of characters, such as Japanese martial arts master Akira and professional wrestler Wolf. In fact, the new fighters in VF4: Evolution would certainly look more at home among the exaggerated lineup of Namco's Tekken series than they do in the ranks of the relatively understated Virtua Fighter cast. Clearly, then, these characters are intended to spice up Virtua Fighter a little, since for better or worse the series has never been as over-the-top as other fighting games. Purists might not be thrilled by the new character designs and the attempt to give Virtua Fighter more of an edge, but be that as it may, these are a couple of interesting and distinct new fighters. Brad can dodge, weave, and sway to avoid his foe's strikes and then counterattack with his own devastating punches and kicks, and Goh can use a variety of takedowns, grappling moves, and submission holds to overpower his opponent.
These two join the entire returning cast of VF4. The older characters, including Shaolin monk Lei Fei and shoot fighter Vanessa who made their first appearances in last year's game, have some new moves this time around to expand their already huge arsenals of punches, kicks, counters, reversals, evasive moves, throws, and more. The controls are perfectly intact--you still move your fighter around using the directional pad and attack and defend using the punch, kick, and guard buttons (and various combinations of these). Three buttons may not sound like a lot to work with, but in fact they are used for literally hundreds of different moves. Most moves in the game aren't difficult to execute (though some, such as a few of Akira's, are incredibly challenging to pull off), but learning how and when to best use them can take days, weeks, or months, easily. Much of this knowledge naturally comes from practice, and as your skills improve, you'll likely just grow to appreciate the game more and more. It's no exaggeration to call VF4: Evolution's gameplay incredibly deep.
Besides the new characters, the other big change in VF4: Evolution is that it completely overhauls the interface of the previous version. There's an even better training mode this time around, which walks you through every single move for every character and teaches you all the different gameplay mechanics and unique strategies and combos for each and every character. There's even a comprehensive glossary of terms, as though VF4: Evolution were some kind of "do it yourself" program for becoming an expert fighting-game player.
That's actually a fitting description. VF4: Evolution, like its predecessor, doesn't necessarily have as much pick-up-and-play appeal as some other fighting games. However, for those serious about these types of games or for those interested in the idea of playing games skillfully, the training mode of VF4: Evolution is a great way to learn the ropes. For some more-casual players, fighting games can be a good way to blow off some steam--pound on some buttons, pound some opponents. VF4: Evolution can fit that bill just fine, though it consistently rewards your good timing, precision, and finesse, and unlike all other fighting games, it also provides you with the resources to dramatically improve your skills. The training mode can be set up to help you with the split-second timing required for many of the moves and will teach you everything from the simplest basics on up to the most advanced combos and strategies that the world's best players use. In the game's replay mode, you can actually watch a number of nail-biting matches between some of these players, if only to get a sense of just how good you or someone could possibly get.
- Player Reviews: 54
- Game Universe:
- Virtua Fighter 4 (PS2, ARC),
- Virtua Quest (PS2, GC),
- Virtua Fighter (PC, SAT, ARC, 32X),
- Virtua Fighter 2 (PC, SAT, ARC, GEN, IP, X360, PS3),
- Virtua Fighter Kids (SAT, ARC),
- Virtua Fighter 5 (X360, ARC, PS3),
- Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (ARC, PS3, X360),
- Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary (PS2),
- Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (PS2, ARC),
- Virtua Fighter 3tb (DC, ARC)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: