The disappointing thing is that it doesn’t look as though Sega is going to include any online play options. That would be a glaring missed opportunity so early in next-gen life, and as it stands, we’ll just be getting a deep single-player mode with the option of playing against one pal, offline.
The thing which will have the series’ most die-hard fans drooling is the new Frame-By-Frame mode, which enables you to see in minute detail how you perform moves - and how opposing fighters perform their tricks of the trade. There are also numerous options in the game’s Training mode that enable you to perfect every last aspect of your fights.
Your sparring partner, for instance, can be customized to just about any imaginable stance, thus making it easier for you to simulate any given situation. Alternatively, you can set him to flawlessly perform a sequence of complicated moves so that you can then try them out for yourself. There’s so much scope for tailoring the game to your needs that it’s obvious Virtua Fighter 5 really wants you to be as good as you can be at it.
As for the fighting proper, it looks extremely fluid, which is hardly surprising given the game is already gracing Japanese arcades. Of course, the lack of a rumble function in the Sixaxis controller does detach the player a little from the action, but it’ll quickly be forgotten once the hyper-addictive, multi-layered fighting takes hold.