||Virtua Fighter 3tb
Get Virtua - Review By Ryoutou
Fans of the Virtua Fighter series of games have been awaiting this title for what seems like forever. Long known for its technical and astoundingly accurate gameplay, the Virtua Fighter epic has broken more ground than most games in the genre ever walk across.
Unfortunately, Virtua Fighter 3tb enters into an arena filled with stiff competition. Namco's Soul Calibur burst into the Dreamcast scene and set the standard in which all other 3D fighting games are to be judged by. Additionally, since the average gamer will buy only one fighting game in the next six months, it has to stand on even ground with the competition or risk being left on the shelves. This long time VF fan was as eager as any to see how it measured up when the discs were spinning and the combos were flying.
Virtua Fighter 3tb is not very button-masher friendly. I for one can't stand it when a kid plays me in a fighting game and darned near beats me just by pressing punch at the speed of sound. From my experience with this game, there is a relatively large division between the experienced player and the neophyte. Additionally, the game is very deep. It's got hundreds upon hundreds of combinations to learn. You could play this game for ten years and probably still be learning new stuff. This makes for a game you can get a lot of use from if fighting good human opponents is your main thing.
Virtua Fighter fans will feel right at home with VF3tb.
The moves in VF3tb look very realistic. As in, they don't usually look incredibly superhuman. You won't see fancy pyrotechnics or bloodbath type moves in this game. The engine really soars in the believability factor, and that can only be seen as a good thing. Hit a guy with a cowboy hat in the head with a hard kick, and the cowboy hat falls off just like it would in real life.
The controls are pretty easy to learn, even for beginners. There are jump, kick, evade, and guard buttons, and they all behave as expected. Throws are present in the game, usually by a button press in conjunction with guard. Of course, the real challenge lies in learning combinations and strings and that's where you will find the division between old school players and newbies.
There are several fighting styles represented in the game. Taka-Arashi is a Sumo wrestler and his hands are as quick as his legs are powerful. We've got a ninja; we've got a Native American cowboy dude. Want surfers? We've got you a surfer. A skater, a China doll, and even a drunk old man await for your beating pleasure. And of course, there's a few normal characters like Akira for the middle of the road types.
The AI is pretty ruthless at the upper levels, at least for beginners. It seems most of the attacks are either insanely fast random attacks or very short strings rather than long complex combinations. This makes the AI more unpredictable than a human, but easier to beat once you get to a certain level.
In VF3tb you can change your views very easily. As a matter of fact, you have a dedicated button for it. With four views available, you can watch your butt get stomped (or the reverse) from many different angles. The views are first person, about a foot behind and up from your character's head, above, and obligatory side view. First person is neat every now and then, but it's so blazing fast that I doubt anyone plays it seriously from there. The foot-behind-and-above view isn't much better. Both above and side are perfect though, and the camera work in the side view is very quick.
Next comes the terrain. Surprise, there is some! Unlike Soul Calibur, this game has stairs, walls, and tons of other things. Height advantages are very real and can work for and against you. Also, the camera works very well in conjunction with obstacles, allowing you to see through them but still detect their presence. The maps in general are very good, the locations including everything from a desert to the to the top of a skyscraper. The levels are definitely one of the more memorable aspects of the game.
Terrain is actually a factor in VF3tb, as this sloping roof demonstrates.
There are a few other miscellaneous things that I liked about VF3tb. The first was that the practice mode shows the buttons you are actually pushing. It makes for seeing exactly what you are doing wrong in order to get a move to work and correct your mistakes very esy. Another thing I liked was that the characters spoke English. Granted, bad English, but at least I could understand it. Finally, there is actually full motion video involved in this game. It was a nice touch that should be more present in fighting games in this reviewer's opinion.
First and foremost, if you don't have an arcade stick you will likely be in for a world of hurt. Most of the moves require directional controls in conjunction with buttons, so the thumb stick of the DC controller is going to leave you at a disadvantage. This is a very minor hit on the game though, if one at all, since anyone who is serious about fighters is going to play the game on an arcade stick as it was meant to be played.
Multiple camera views a nice addition, but many players won't find them very useful.
VF3tb is a very accurate arcade port. However, it's a three-year-old game and the visuals show their age. The models are blocky compared to Soul Calibur's, and the animations are lacking as well. Also, quite a few of the characters have a pasty vampire look to them that leaves them looking all the more unnatural. Additionally, the models look as if they are "loose" to most observers. To clarify, the characters look a bit like marionette puppets that could use the "slack" taken out of the inner strings that hold the puppet together. It's not a horrible effect, but it is noticeable nonetheless.
The sound in this game, like the visuals, is lackluster for the most part. The sound effects also don't vary much and are missing some vividness and variety. Close your eyes, have your buddy pick two characters and fight with them. You will be very hard pressed to tell which he chose, and who is hitting whom. The music is very is very up-beat and reminds me a bit of games towards the beginning of the decade. Most say it sounds rather cheesy (I actually liked the music, but I'm the only one I know that does).
I mentioned earlier that the game is not very friendly to button mashers, at least not as much as competing games. This can be a bad thing as well, depending on the people you wish to play against. Getting your significant other or kids involved in the game won't be as easy since they can't mash their way to at least holding their own.
The characters in VF3tb aren't particularly well-developed or designed.
Single player mode is a bit poor. There isn't a mission mode, so replay value will be constrained to survival mode or beating the clock. Also, training mode doesn't have a command list. Granted, the manual has a small command list, but it's a very short one. You'll need to search elsewhere for complicated moves unless you like to experiment a lot.
Sadly, the storyline is a bit thin. The FMV helps, but it doesn't meet the standards I would like to see. More detailed and complex character backgrounds would have been a real treat. Some folks could care less about this, but I like to identify with the characters I play. Even though I have played all the VF games quite a bit, I felt no real connection with any of the characters.
The Final Word
Virtua Fighter 3tb is not for people who can't deal with games that don't have the very best graphics or effects. All in all, Soul Calibur puts this game to shame in the visuals department. Where VF3tb earns its money is in the gameplay. For the diehard fans of the VF or complex fighting games in general it's a diamond in the rough. Simply put, if you can only buy one fighting game for the Dreamcast then it needs to be Soul Calibur. But if you can afford to buy two or more and enjoy complicated fighting games with lots of depth, then Virtua Fighter 3tb is an excellent choice.
Highs: Arcade perfect port, realism, great levels, and the deepest fighter currently available.
Lows: Dated visuals, relatively weak single player.
Other: 1-2 Players, VMU Compatible (saving, 12 blocks), Arcade Stick Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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