Earlier this year, we were able to travel to Japan to see an early version of Virtua Fighter 5 for the Xbox 360. At that time, the developers were certain that online play could not be included - as it would compromise the quality of the play experience too much.
That changed today. Sega has announced that, when it ships this fall, Virtua Fighter 5 for the Xbox 360 will, in fact, feature an online versus mode. To find out more, we spoke again to Yoshihiro Tsuzuku, the 360 version's director.
GamesRadar: In our prior interview, you said "we've chosen not to pursue online versus play for this version." Can you explain the change?
Yoshihiro Tsuzuku: In the past we were not sure we could execute online, but have heard that this is something that the fans of the series are really excited about, so we are happy to announce we are able to deliver online for Virtua Fighter 5 on Xbox 360.
The biggest reason why we decided to include online versus play is because we received so many requests from the fans. It was quite surprising that there were many fans that expected online versus play even with lag.
Another reason is that the Xbox 360 has a great environment to realize this feature. Conducting a careful study of the development environment, we finally convinced that the online versus play can be implemented on VF5.
GR: The reason given for not pursuing online play in VF5 before was network latency. How is this problem being addressed?
YT: To be honest, it's very difficult and almost impossible to solve this problem completely. No matter how we include this feature, the online versus gameplay can not be the same as the arcade versus gameplay unless the network improves drastically. We are currently making efforts to bring it closer to the arcade version as much as possible though.
Convincing the core gamers is not easy, but we are continuing to make necessary adjustments to offer a game that a lot of people will enjoy.
GR: Can you combat latency, using these techniques, enough to deliver a playable online game for VF5?
YT: As I mentioned, this can not be solved completely due to the nature of the internet. This time, we are trying to make necessary tuning so that players can play the online features comfortably.
GR: What revision of the arcade VF5 is the 360 version based on?
YT: The Xbox 360 version will be based on the most recent Japanese arcade version.
GR: What sort of online modes are you preparing?
YT: It features the following 5 network modes.
1. Human vs human online battle using the VS Mode and Xbox Live.
2. Ranking of the above online battle.
3. "Score Attack" Ranking in ARCADE Mode.
4. "Clear Time" Ranking in ARCADE Mode.
5. "Clear Time" Ranking in DOJO Mode.
Also, we are considering uploading the replay data for some of the Rankings. Of course, downloading the contents in the marketplace is also being considered. Please look forward to it.