Sunday, March 23, 2008

Virtua Fighter 5: Demo Notes

I'm not a big fight-game fan. But I figured I'd give Virtua Fighter 5 demo a whirl.

At first glance, the game shell menu seemed excellent. It was easy to tell what I had selected, what was not selectable (grayed out as unavailable in the demo), and there was ample persistent help text to explain what I had selected. However, there were a couple of dings:

  • The persistent help text did contain some jargon (e.g., fight against "CPU-controlled opponents").
  • There was no persistent help text for the Quest, Dojo, VF.TV, Customize, and Options menu selections. They were simply unselectable. There was no way to learn what these features are -- which is a shame because you'd think this would be a great opportunity to educate me about all the cool features you'd get in the full version.
The game play, at its core, seemed about as fun as any other fighter. It's very rewarding to kick the crap out of opposing fighters in stylish ways. Also, while the "vs. CPU" demo was very short, you could play an unlimited number of 1v1 battles against a friend -- which makes sense as this is the core way to experience a fight game.

A few complaints I have:
  • Fighter selection: There's no way to learn about what kinds of fight styles the characters have at a glance. The martial arts style is cryptic for those unfamiliar with the genre and there are no full body shots that would suggest how the fighter would behave based on physical appearance.
  • The single player demo is very short -- 3 easy rounds and back to the main menu. While there is a cryptic message about trying some custom options using the RB and 2p select (I have no idea what this meant), the experience wasn't anything I could sink my teeth into.
  • I didn't like the countdown timer during fighter select. I wanted to try and learn more about the various fighters, but when the short timer ran out it simply selected the fighter that I was currently hovering over and started the bout.
  • I also really dislike the trend in fight games (not just the VF series) where they use one system of colored circles to indicate Punches, Kicks, and Guards... And a different system of colored circles to indicate face buttons (A, B, X, Y). So you get weird mapping like the Blue X button translates to Green G icon (which means Guard); the Green A button translates to the Blue P icon (which means punch). When you look up combos they are displayed in the icon circles -- which means even though you see a green circle (making you think A button on the controller) it actually means press the Blue X button (guard). So confusing.
I could see goofing around in this game with friends, but I already prefer Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive so it would be hard to justify jumping into this series as it doesn't seem to out shine them in any ways (e.g., Soul Calibur has cool weapons and outrageous characters; DoA seems a lot more flashy in terms of how easy it is to do cool combos and special moves).

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