4: Evolution (SEGA for PS2)
by Eric Chon
I have always been on a quest for the perfect fighter, the game that brought the frenzy and madness of an all-out brawl to my screen. It was close once in Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, but that had fireballs, dragon punches, and all that fancy crap. What I was looking for was, essentially, a fighting simulation. One that was fathoms deep and required pure skill to excel in. I’ve found that in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. It took some time to get here, but it’s been worth the wait.
Essentially, the fifth iteration of the game that pioneered three-dimensional fisticuffs, Virtua Fighter is also the first one to perfect it. It retains its simple three-button control scheme (punch, kick, block) but contains near-infinite depth. I would actually liken it to a martial art: It would take years of practice and dedication to hone your skills and master a character, and because of this, Virtua Fighter tends to be ignored by those whose attention spans are akin to insects. It’s a punishing game for the uninitiated, but there’s gold in them hills. Gold in the form of fists beating your face in with exquisite control and form.
To be quite honest, Virtua Fighter 4 had almost all of this already, so why put out Evolution so soon afterwards? I guess the guys at Sega are just nuts about kicking nuts. They’ve also broadened the appeal of this once austere game: Characters are more balanced, graphics improved, and a host of other subtle gameplay tweaks. But it’s the major ones that will grab and toss you like an aikido master.
Two new characters are introduced that will probably draw a few from the Tekken crowd (of which I was one), and the single-player campaign mode will actually make you a better player. It’s that good. You can also earn money to “buy” accessories like new outfits, stages, sunglasses, and even hair colors. Obsessive people beware!
Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution is a complete package in every sense of the phrase. It has enough game to keep you occupied for months, and it just so happens to be the best 3-D fighter made. You’d do yourself a disservice by not picking this up.