Ever since it literally kick-started the 3D fighting genre 12 years ago, Virtua Fighter has had a dedicated following among hardcore fighter fans. Now those fans have a reason to salivate, because Virtua Fighter 5 is nearing completion and will most likely head to the PS3 and/or Xbox 360 after it pounds through arcades.
Throughout the series, Virtua Fighter has focused on realistic martial arts and rewarded experienced players with flashy moves. VF5 is no exception; a big, fat graphical upgrade over the already-impressive Virtua Fighter 4, VF5 features realistic textures, fighters who react more convincingly when they get kicked in the teeth and skin that looks somewhere between genuinely sweaty and weirdly plastic.
It also stars at least 17 of these freakily detailed fighters, including a couple of new faces: El Blaze, a masked Lucha Libre wrestler in leather bell-bottoms, and Eileen, a miniature boy-woman done up like a flamenco Robin Hood. Further details are sketchy at this point; while it was briefly tested at the Club Sega arcade and has been shown off at the AOU2006 arcade-machine expo (both in Japan), it hasn't yet shown up in completed form. Assuming it's at least as good as the last game, though, Virtua Fighter 5 is worth keeping an eye on.