Sega Ages: Virtua Fighter 2 Hands-On
We try out the PlayStation 2 version of Sega's classic arcade fighting game.
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TOKYO--Sega had a playable work-in-progress version of the PlayStation 2 port of Virtua Fighter 2, the second arcade game in its groundbreaking fighting series. The game is being released under the "Sega Ages" series, the publisher's continuing line of classic-game rereleases for the PS2. Fans of the series, especially those who have been playing Virtua Fighter for years, are probably especially curious about this one, since there has never been an arcade-perfect conversion of the game for a home console--the Saturn conversion was an amazing achievement, but the graphical compromises that Sega made to fit the game on that platform kept it from being a truly perfect arcade port. So it was with high hopes that we made our way to the work-in-progress PlayStation 2 version on the Tokyo Game Show floor.
Sega's in-house development studio AM-2, under the direction of designer Yu Suzuki, is responsible for the amazing series, and the studio is handling the game conversion itself. AM-2 has stated that it planned to make the Sega Ages version an arcade-perfect game, but unfortunately this isn't the case. We know this may be troubling news to Virtua Fighter fans, so we'll break it down quickly so as not to prolong the pain. The good news is that the game is based on the original arcade game powered by Sega's Model-2 hardware, and not the Saturn game. The new game even has the option to switch between the original Virtua Fighter 2 and the updated VF 2.1, which featured some key gameplay additions. As a result, you can look forward to fully 3D environments and extra details, such as the bridge on Shun Di's stage.
Now the bad news. The game's frame rate is off. Not by a lot and not consistently, but it is off just enough that longtime players may be driven slowly insane. To be fair, it's possible to compensate, but it seems aggravating that a conversion of the game on a powerhouse system like the PS2 couldn't be arcade-perfect. As far as gameplay goes, as we've stated, VF2 is certainly playable and still ranks as one of the best entries in the series. Longtime fans may have issues with the game's performance but newcomers will likely be fine with it. Color and resolution also appear to be a little rough around the edges, which is also disappointing, but it's fixable, if the team has time.
Sega Ages: Virtua Fighter 2 may not be quite the conversion we'd hoped for, but it's still Virtua Fighter. The game is currently slated to ship next month for the PlayStation 2 in Japan, though it's not scheduled for release in the US at this time. For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of Tokyo Game Show 2004.