Virtua Fighter 4
Virtua Fighter 4 has always been the purists beat 'em up. While most of the other fighting games can usually be conquered by selecting a certain character and performing a specific move or simply bashing the hell of out the gamepad, the Virtua Fighter series has always demanded a more skilful approach. To succeed at any of the previous Virtua Fighter games you have had to invest a great deal of time in your chosen character, learn their moves inside out and use them appropriately to suit your opponent.
Virtua Fighter 4 comes with a host of gameplay modes. There's the Arcade mode in which you have to fight through 14 opponents. The VS mode is where you can give your friends a thrashing. The heart of the single player game though is the Kumite mode. In the Kumite mode you can improve your rank and unlock accessories and costumes. The Kumite mode alone offers endless replayability and if any one section of the game elevates Virtua Fighter 4 to classic status, it is this one.
The key to success with Virtua Fighter 4, as we mentioned earlier, is to put in the practice and learn the moves. There are 3 types of training that you can take part in to improve your skills. There is Command, in which you have to follow the onscreen commands. Free, in which you can do as you please and set up your opponent to behave as you want to. Finally, and perhaps the best training mode of all, is Trial. Trial sets you an objective and you have to carry it out in order to progress but unlike other fighting games in Virtua Fighter 4 you are carrying these objectives out against a fully responsive opponent who will try and prevent the attacks. Trial is the section of the game that will make you a beat 'em up master if you persevere with it.
Visually, Virtua Fighter 4 is very good. The fighters all look impressive and are animated superbly. The girls may lack the breast bobble that their Dead of Alive 3 counterparts have but in every other respect they are certainly up to scratch. The arenas in which the fights take place, for the most part, look impressive. Some may point to the lack of anti-aliasing in places but to be honest this isn't a problem and doesn't affect the gameplay one iota. For those of you whose TVs support the 60Hz you'll be pleased to know that the game supports this mode.
Beat 'em ups aren't really a problem genre for deaf gamers and Virtua Fighter 4 is no exception. Fighters comments aren't subtitled and the announcers aren't subtitled either. The good news though is that all the instructions in the training mode are text only. To be perfectly fair the unsubtitled comments are trivial and do nothing for the gameplay except that you could argue that it takes away a minuscule part of the atmosphere. On the whole Virtua Fighter 4 is perfectly suitable for deaf gamers.
Virtua Fighter is without doubt the finest beat 'em up you can play on the PS2 and surpasses even the Tekken games with it's excellent gameplay. The fighting has a more natural balance than in other beat 'em up games and you have to be as effective on the defensive side as you are on the the offensive. If this is a genre you are into then you should make Virtua Fighter 4 top of your wish list.
Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10 Virtua Fighter 4 is a highly challenging and highly impressive fighting game. If you want depth in your beat 'em up and a more realistic approach to your fighting then Virtua Fighter 4 is the game for you.
Deaf Gamers comment: Virtua Fighter 4 is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. There are some comments from the fighters and announcer that are missing but thankfully all the tutorial modes are fully subtitled.