Myke was asked by a magazine editor to write some VF4 stuff for the magazine. Myke would rather spend time with his girlfriend. I would rather spend time writing about VF than trying to figure out why my damned model won't balance, and so here is what I sent the guy. I think it's supposed to be a little light-hearted. ------------------------------ > Past: Where did the game come from, what old games did it supercede Virtua Fighter 4 is programmed and designed by game gurus Yu Suzuki, Katagiri [you should find out his first name] and the venerable Sega studio called AM2. It is the fourth iteration in a series that spawned the 3D fighting game genre as we know it, Virtua Fighter. Virtua Fighter 1 introduced the 3D fighting genre. Virtua Fighter 2 took Virtua Fighter 1 and put it on steroids with textured graphics and unprecedented depth. Virtua Fighter 3 developed the 3D dimension as an integral part of the gameplay. Each iteration introduced innovations that are copiously copied by other franchises. Players can only wait in anticipation to discover just how much further Virtua Fighter 4 can push 3D fighting as we know it. 9: Every iteration in the Virtua Fighter series has been amazing for breaking graphical and gameplay boundaries. Gamers in the know have come to expect only the greatest things from this sterling franchise, and had VF3 only been a little more popular outside of Asia, the score would have easily been a 10. > Characters; how cool are the new ones, have they dropped any old favourites There are two new characters in VF4, Lei-Fei and Vanessa. Lei-Fei is a Shaolin monk whose fighting style is stance- and attack-linked based. Think Hwoarang, but VF-style. Both beginners looking to pull off impressive looking moves and advanced players intrigued by his myriad of stances and attacks will find him addicting to play. Vanessa's origins and fighting style are presently unclear, but she occupies a previously empty space in the VF universe of characters; she is a lithe but powerful dark-skinned female character. Taka-arashi, the sumo wrestler from VF3, unfortunately will not make an appearance in VF4. Issues of character integration/realization into the VF4 universe, lack of popularity relative to the other characters, and probably a lack of time and resources have led Sega to exclude him from the sequel. Let us hope he makes an appearance on home versions of the game. 6: Hardcore VF players have always assumed that every character introduced will remain in future sequels, as each character takes much time to learn and play at a high level. Taka-dedicated players will be disappointed to learn that the sumo wrestler will not be returning in VF4. Casual gamers expect more than just two new characters, even if they are two fully realized and distinct characters. Lei-Fei's ease of accessibility and Vanessa's uniqueness compensate, but only for so much. > Moves; are their new moves? how great are they? are some too powerful? Recovery time for many moves in VF4 have been shortened, allowing the action to move at a much faster VF2-like pace. As always in the VF series, moves are wonderfully animated but this is even more apparent in VF4; you will gawk and gape at how smoothly and impressively characters move, step and attack. Many of the new moves seem to be stance and reversal based. Most characters have been given a special reversal/parry, guard break or unique 3D movement of some sort. Judging by the feedback from VF4 play testers in the U.S., no one seems sure how these new stances and reversals will be implemented at high levels of play, but players are excited to find out. 8: Many of the new moves look gorgeous, some are strange. All offer endless potential for exploration and development of new game theories. > Environments; what are the backgrounds like, are there new environmental > features (like Tekken's 'walls') that make a big difference to the game? The interactivity of the stages in VF4 exceed even that in VF3. Tiles on the ground break and stay broken as bodies get crushed to the ground. Flakes of snow meld and form as characters move and fall. Sand flicks upwards into the air as characters dodge and kick. "Walls" clatter and break as broken bodies are flung against them. However, in VF4 Sega decided to remove the varied terrain featured so prominently in VF3. Casual observers will decry this as a step backwards, but dedicated players realize that Sega's decision to have uniformly "flat" stages is a commitment towards attaining the best balance possible across all characters, and this means ensuring that no one character has a big advantage over another in a certain type of environment. 7: Despite the better game balance, many will miss the randomness of varied terrain, as randomness sometimes helps a random player get wins. The mentally disciplined gamer will miss the added variability and depth that uneven terrain offers. Otherwise, the stages are what we have come to expect from the series. > On-line: What are the on-line plans, how will they affect the gameplay. VF4's biggest innovation to the series and the genre is the community aspect as realized in VF.net. VF.net is a system that customizes the game for the player. Each player uses a network card that keeps track of players statistics, rewards bonuses in the game for accomplishing certain things and displays the player's ring name in the actual game, amongst other things. One report, for example, claims that your character will wear a demon mask in the game if you can exceed a certain number of wins and stay above a certain winning percentage! Sega has also teamed up with NTT Docomo's i-Mode service to strengthen the community aspect of the game. Those with i-Mode compatible phones (which is everyone Japan, from your grandmother to your pizza delivery boy) can receive an e-mail message notifying you of a certain player or a certain win streak in progress at a certain arcade. A famous Tetsujin in town racking up 50+ wins? Head over and be the one to break the streak and build a reptuation in the process! It is innovations like these that will have players coming back to the arcades for more practice and more competition. Already, the arcade gaming scene will never be the same. Unfortunately, at this time, whether VF.net will make an appearance in Europe or the U.S. is unclear. Most do not expect the feature to be implemented in the Western hemisphere due to little interest. 10 for those who get to use it: VF.net will revolutionize the fighting genre as we know it. Executives and programmers have been seen to be running amok at Namco headquarters in haste for the next release of Tekken after Tekken 4 -- Tekken 4, Tekken.net Edition. 1 for those who don't, because there is nothing online about VF4 at all otherwise. > Gameplay: Finally, anything not already covered plus, the 'feel' of the > game. Is it a step forward, how much so? Sega has always tried to make the VF series accessible and fun for beginners while offering depth and complexity for advanced players. Many feel that Sega failed to accomplish this with Virtua Fighter 3, but Virtua Fighter 4 may finally be the iteration to achieve that balance. Most players have described VF4 to be a mix of VF2 and VF3. VF4 has VF2's "feel" while retaining many of the gameplay concepts introduced in VF3. Sega introduced features in the game that will allow a beginner to enjoy the game but also structured the system in such a way that an advanced player will be able to more easily defeat the beginner. Overall, the one common remark for VF4's gameplay is that it is fun. It is fun because it is fast, because the action is free flowing, because the animation and graphics are gorgeous, and because the game feels so new and different yet still familiar. There is a sense of thrill and excitement of the many gameplay mechanisms lying in wait to be discovered and explored. 9: It's too early to tell, but based on those that have played the game, it's thumbs up all around. -------------------------------- Thought y'all might be interested. Be on the look out for it. I won't mention the mag just in case they decide not to run with the story.