Virtua Fighter 5

Saturday 23 September 2006
As much as we love new games, there's nothing quite like the tantalising sense of excitement of knowing that the sequel to one of your favourite series is coming to a new system.

Virtua Fighter has been the absolute deepest fighting game series around for years and it's also one of the most enjoyable to play. The latest arcade version - which you're not going to get to play unless you come to Japan or live near one of those rare arcades that still have real games - is a marvel of beautiful graphics and perfect gameplay.

The PS3 version, judging from Sega's booth at Tokyo Game Show, will not disappoint in any way.

The game is a symphony of punching and kicking. The characters are beautifully detailed and their moves all look, well, perfect. In the latest version, the characters look even better than in the past - not just because of the increased power of PS3 bringing more detail, but also because work has obviously been put into smoothing out their animations.

Two new characters join the fight: Mexican lucha libre wrestler El Blaze and Eileen, a young girl who uses monkey-style kung fu. El Blaze, in particular, is a lot of fun to play - his wrestling moves are both stylish and powerful.

Above: The stage used for Lion's 'home' battles is set in his own family manor

The version at the show was a simple arcade mode that allowed us to play several rounds against the computer before the demo ended.

The game was indistinguishable from the currently released version we played earlier in the week at a Tokyo arcade - the beautiful, detailed backgrounds and the high-speed gameplay were all fully intact. But, by the same token, we saw no hint of any new modes that might be tucked into the home version of the game. A character customization mode is planned, however.

We also hope that Sega works on including similar quest features to VF4 on PS2, and manages to hook the home version up with VFNet, its arcade ranking system.

Because the arcade version is synonymous with fighting quality, Virtua Fighter 5 stands as one of the most appealing PS3 games in the works.