It is back to the future in a way. For the new year I've been having some fun with VF4 and VF4 EVO. There is no online mode. Its all about the single player and two player experience. Remember the days where each player's profile was stored on a separate memory card? I digress.... What struck me over the last couple of days is just how far advanced the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Virtua Fighter 4 was compared to any fighter back then and any fighter on the market today. First, I'm talking about the A.I System Mode that allowed the player to create and train their own AI to be used as the ultimate sparring partner, or to send in to matches and battle on your behalf. No other 3D fighter (that I'm aware of) had anything like that then or now!!. Rather than have an elaborate story mode and cut scenes which most fighters had at the time, VF 4 chose a different approach to fighting games. It was all about developing skill and measuring how good you were. In order to make the game challenging the AI was challenging. Kumite mode and the Storm Lords and High Kings, and Subjugators could give you a real run for your money. Second, was the ADVICE Mode. No fighter 2D, 3D or otherwise (please correct me if I'm wrong) has ever had anything like Virtua Fighter 4's ADVICE mode. This mode would keep track of your playing and would score you on: Striking Attacks Accuracy Defense Throwing Mobility Finishing Patterns For example under the Defense advice you would be rated on: Block success rate Low block failure rate Mid block failure rate Hits taken from high attacks Hits taken from mid attacks Hits taken from low attacks Evade failure rate For instance my Evade failure rate was 23.3% and other player's average stats was 32.3% I was ranked a B for Evade failure rate. On the other hand my blocked low attack rate was 25% where the average player had a 7.5% meaning my low attacks were being blocked much more than other player's low attacks and I was ranked a C. And strangely enough I still suffer from that weakness today in VF5FS LOL. It wasn't about how many players you could find online in ranked mode! VF 4 focused on giving the single player a reason, method and means to improve and get better. It provided detailed player assessment (far more than other fighting games I've ever played). VF4 was like having a virtual coach/trainer. It was all about the AI and getting good enough to beat it, and then your skill would be deep enough and strong enough to really enjoy the 2 player experience. And if you could find no one else to get into VF4 with you, the single player experience was certainly good enough to keep your attention for hours on end. In this regard Virtua Fighter 4 was far far ahead of its time. IMO I think we're going to back to this AI model and single player experience in the near future. Here's why: First there are just too many good games and too many platforms (i.e. PS4, XBox, PC, Mobile, Interactive TV, etc) There are more gaming experiences available than there are human players!!!!! So at some point you'll want to play a game and everyone will be playing something else! We're already at that point NOW! When I'm interested in getting on a match of VF the other VF players I know are in other games and when they're interested I'm in another game. Or when I jump into some of the multiplayer experiences I get the message "waiting for 2 more players" or something to that effect. The only solution to this will be for game developers and publishers to step their AI game up. That is creating better, more flexible, more adaptable, more entertaining AI or (AI bots). They have to be good enough so most people won't realize they're even playing against an AI. Or so entertaining that some people would prefer to play against the AI. Here is where Virtua Fighter 4 was well ahead of its time with its A.I. System Mode. You could train your ultimate sparring partner and as the ADVICE Mode system scored you, you could make your partner better and better which made for a nice fighting game experience. Just watching your A.I. design fight against the game's A.I. is a treat. I'm not saying that the multiplayer experience is gone forever. I am saying that Virtua Fighter 4 already had the answer to too many games not enough players dilemma. Or we all want to play but our schedules don't line up problem. The A.I. System / ADVICE system was perfect for that. I've spent hours recently messin around with it. Of course there is lots of room for improvement. But it was a first. Its a shame that Sega did not continue to develop and supply this mode. However if you have VF4 its still fun and useful. And if an updated version gets added to Virtua Fighter 6 OMG! Virtua Fighter is the best 3D arcade fighter ever made. The series has left behind better features than most fighting games have ever had. AFAIC Virtua Fighter gave to the 3D gaming Universe: A.I. System Advice System Quest Mode License Mode Tutorial Mode Scoring Mode Underground Tournaments Mode Dojo Mode These were all innovations when they were introduced and no other fighting game really matched those innovations (IMO). Sure VF lacks a story mode, but these modes are better and more entertaining in the long run. I know those that only care about 2 player or online VF don't care much about these modes, but these modes have inspired and influenced many of the fighting games features we find in games like (Tekken, Soul Calibur, DOA,etc) today. And these modes are the reasons why thousands of players still enjoy VF offline. Yea I play a little VF online I have 3 or 4 thousand online matches, but I have over 100,000 offline 1P matches because I personally enjoy single player more. For anyone that has not tried/experienced the A.I. System and ADVICE system in Virtua Fighter 4 I strongly recommend it as a lot of fun and a look into the future of what will eventually happen to fighting games. VF has always been ahead of its time. That's why they can take off a decade not produce any VF and when they come back still be ahead of the pack. Maybe Sega and VF6 have a A.I. and Single player, Two player Experience Surprise for the World, with innovations we've never seen in a 3D fighting game before. So far that's been the case with every major release of VF. Maybe they've been silent all of this time because something good is brewing. In either case even if we never see another VF we have a lot of good versions already out there. In my case I have a couple of fully functioning PS2's and PS3's and VF 4, VF4 Evo, VF5 and VF5FS and I still spend lots of time in single player in all of these versions. And revisiting VF 4's A.I. System, ADVICE system, and EVO's underground tournaments has just reminded me why VF AI & Single Player Rules!