Overview of Virtua Fighter 4

Virtua Fighter 4 is a fighting game for the Playstation 2, created by Sega's formidable AM2 division. It is the 4th in the series and was released in March of 2002 (North American PS2 release date).

VF4 features 13 fighters in 13 arenas. It has ring outs, although the terrain of the arenas is now flat (in Virtua Fighter 3 and Virtua Fighter 3tb there had been extensive use of uneven combat surfaces).

The fighters cover several different martial arts, including drunken boxing, jeet kune do, aikido, karate, wrestling, thai boxing, and shaolin kung fu. Game play actually varies greatly across the different fighting styles. The drunken boxer must take drinks of his rice wine in order to become more intoxicated, thus opening up new moves. The shaolin monk has different styles of kung fu available to him. The Aikido fighter relies heavily on counters, and the wrestler has a wide assortment of throws.

There are several gameplay modes. Arcade is a normal tournament where you fight each opponent, each getting slightly harder. There is a kumite mode where you fight a greater variety of foes to increase in rank (individual player stats are monitored in Kumite and are saved to the memory card). There is also an extensive training mode which allows you to practice your characters fighting moves, as well as more generic ones. The game will also take you through training exercises demonstrating various aspects and strategies of gameplay. Perhaps the most interesting mode is the new AI mode, which allows you to train your own figher which does the fighting for you, based on moves that you teach it.

The actual combat features quite an extensive game play system. There are several levels of moves and counter moves, throws and counter throws. There are counters to counters, although with reaction times in hundredths of seconds, only truly skilled players will ever use the full gambit. Button mashing fighting is still supported however, and each character is given a ranking from beginner to advanced to give the newbie an idea of who is more immediately accessible.

On the new Player Files

One of the major new additions to the series is the concept of a player file. You create a player file, picking your favorite character and from then on in the Arcade, Versus, and Kumite modes you can push select at the character select screen and choose your player file instead of one of the normal characters.

What does this do? Your player file will track a number of things, including a huge variety of stats, win/loss ratio, and any special items you have gained. Items include alternately colored pieces for your characters costume, as well as entirely new pieces (Lei Fei quickly earns a new pair of greaves for example). Under the edit file option you can mix and match items and colours, and get this; even have the game give you advice based on your stats for your total career!

Another cool bit is the new ranking that is tracked. It starts off as 10th kyu and as you work down through 1st Kyu, tougher opponents will challenge you. After 1st Kyu is 1st Dan and you work your way up to 10th Dan, then get into some funky titles (war god, etc).

Once you are into the Dan ranks you can lose ranks if you start losing to many matches. The real kicker here is your rankings extend to the versus mode! So when you're fighting your buddy (who can have his own player file), you could actually lose ranks! This really should add some spice to PvP matches!

Character List:

Akira Yuki Hakkyoku Ken style (karate)

Aoi Umenokouji Aiki Ju Jitsu (Aikido)

Jacky Bryant Jeet Kune Do

Jeffry McWild Pancratium

Kage Maru Ju Jutsu

Lau Chan Koen Ken (a kung fu style)

Lei Fei Shaolin Ken (Shaolin Kung fu) (new in VF4)

Lion Rafale Tourou Ken (kung fu)

Pai Chan Ensei Ken (kung fu)

Sarah Bryant Jeet Kune do

Shun Di Drunken Kung Fu

Vanessa Lewis Vale Tudo (new in VF4)

Wolf Hawkfield Pro Wrestling

Dural - bonus character, end boss

Some Critique of the game

Virtua Fighter 4 is a deep and fun fighting game, however I have a few beefs with it:

- lacks cinematic cut scenes: Bascially Namco with its Tekken and Soul Calibur has kept the bar high here. VF4 has some back story according to the manual and such, but one wouldn't know it in game.

- some aspects of the game not explained very well. This is a *very* technical fighting game, probably far more technical a fighting game than I will ever have the patience to master. It's great to have a game that takes you beyond button mashing, but when you can't find proper instructions and the various techniques, it can be very frustrating. The training mode is quite detailed, but in several instances I just plain couldn't figure out what to do.

- various UI problems. In game everything is fantastic, but the menus and such are not intuitive, expecially for such a complex game.

- language issues. The characters either speak English, or Japanese. It's kind of odd to me. It would add a tiny bit of character to the game if each fighter used his or her native tongue. Also some of the voice acting is just plain bad, and the dialogue is poor as well (although that's part and parcel for a Japanese fighting game).

Some Basic Hints & Tips

- Many moves require multiple simulatneous button presses, this can be quite difficult to accomplish on the Dual Shock controller, standard on the PS2. Fortuneatly Sega has mapped button combos to the shoulder buttons:
L1 - Punch + Guard (ie: throw)
L2 - Punch + Guard + Kick (fall recover, many other moves, including counters)
R1 - Kick + Guard (various special moves)
R2 - Kick + Punch (various special moves)
This really makes things a lot easier on the PS2 controller!

- Push SELECT at character select screens to access your PLAYER FILE. Okay this is actually in the somewhat meagre manual, but I was a few days trying to figure out how to start tracking my character stats! Your enjoyment of VF4 should be greatly improved by using the player file system (well so far...once I can actually lose levels too it might be more frustrating!)

- In Kumite mode pay close attention to the ranking of your opponent- it is located under their health bar. Even when I was only 3rd Kyu, I caught them throwing a 5th Dan fighter at me. Well I suppose one should play their best at all times, but why expend needless mental energy on a 10th Kyu fighter?

Message me if you would like to add any character guides. I've added some basics for Lei Fei, but this game is quite complicated and encourages specialization in one character! I might hard link all character names anyways, but the spelling is often different, so it's kind of tricky- so let me know if you've made one under a particular spelling and my spelling needs to be ammended!

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