Title: Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution
Developer: AM2
Publisher: Sega
Date Published: late 2002 (Arcade), 13/03/03 (Japan Playstation 2), 12/06/03 (Europe Playstation 2), 13/08/03 (US Playstation 2),
Platforms: Arcade (Naomi2), Playstation 2

Seeing as Mantrid has already done a very good node on Virtua Fighter 4, and Evolution is essentially little more than an iteration I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to read that node, in order to fully understand this one.

Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution is an update of the classic fighting game from AM2 that cements the series' reputation as the best 3D fighting games available. VF4 Evo is all that VF4 was and more. This version adds:

  • Two new characters - Brad Burns (a kickboxer), and Goh Hinogami (who practices Judo)
  • Enhanced graphics - all new costumes, stages, and better anti-aliasing
  • Large numbers of new moves for every character
  • Far better training modes - including seperate command training, free training, and trial training for beginners, medium skilled players, and experts

Basically, now that Evolution is out there's not much point in playing stock VF4. This is AM2's equivalent of a game balancing patch from someone like Blizzard. In the US this was marketed as such, and sold at a $20 price point. Of course, we UK residents had to pay the full £40. Never mind. It was worth it.

Now, amid all this praise I do have to make a small complaint. One of the original game's strong points in the Playstation 2 port was kumite mode - the ability to customise your character with earnt clothing and colours, and save the file to a memory card ready for transport to a friends house so that you could show him/her off. In Evo, kumite mode has been replaced with Quest mode. This really does break the fourth wall because it places the user as an arcade goer in Tokyo, with the aim of becoming the Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution champion of Japan. Unfortunately, AM2 have seen fit to change the save file system so that each VF4 Evo save contains two of each character. There's no provision for loading from two memory cards at the same time so the aspect of taking your character to a friend's house to show them off has been removed. In the end this isn't a major problem as I now have one of each of my characters at each of my friend's houses, but it is annoying to those accustomed to VF4's easier kumite system. Having said that, this really is the only complaint that I can level at the game. It's the deepest fighting game out there, but it's also very accessible with it's numerous training modes. The graphics are top notch and only possibly bettered by Soul Calibur 2. Control is perfect with a decent arcade stick (although that's a whole new node) and generally it's the pinnacle of the genre. Yu Suzuki should be proud of himself.

For more information, the main Virtua Fighter community on the web can be found at http://www.virtuafighter.com.

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