SEGA Ventures: Virtua Fighter 4 – Evolution [Part 3/3]

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SEGA Ventures is a series at The SEGA Source where one of the members plays through a SEGA game that is longer than just a few hours long, giving a summary of our thoughts along the way in a three part set of articles, a diary of sorts. This time we will be sitting down with Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, the 2003 upgrade of the 2001/2002 arcade and PlayStation 2 release of Virtua Fighter 4.

How ‘Bout A Warm Up? Come On!

With newly found belief that I would finally be able to beat Quest mode after all these years of not bothering to try, I had set aside a few days to myself to accomplish just that. My mind was made on finishing off my playthrough with Sarah as I felt I had progressed the most with her. I was still not that great of a player overall, so before I moved on to finish Quest with her, I figured it would be best to try a new style again, hopefully learning more like I did with Wolf.

I decided to first choose Goh, who is more about grapples than even Wolf himself. Almost all of his combination attacks are with when you have your enemy pinned on the ground. It is something I was certainly not good with and he could easily be my least played character in the whole franchise, so it was going to be tough for sure, but I was ready.

The first thing I noticed with Goh was just how surprisingly well I held my own with him! He was somewhat similar to Akira in ways I did not really expect, obviously designed to be more of a defensive fighter than Sarah, which I might actually be better suited to, even if I always pick the fastest characters in any other fighting game and always seem to find ways to beat the hardest difficulty settings.

Tenka Musou segaventures

Speaking of other fighting games. I had recently picked up a few others I found on the cheap. I never really directly compared the Virtua Fighter series with any other 3D fighter because I am usually only interested in playing one fighter at a time – I am not the most hardcore fighting game fan in the world to say the least.

I always had a bit of a soft spot for the Soul Calibur series for years due to it’s PlayStation 1 and Dreamcast origins, but when I played Soul Calibur IV right next to Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution it was almost like torture. Obviously it is not a terrible game by any means, but the gameplay had not been altered at all for years, in fact almost all of the same attacks and animations were reused from older games as standard – Even the whimsically outdated grappling mechanics had not been altered since the Dreamcast release. The only new addition to the series was “Leveling up” your characters, which allowed them to have special powers like sucking life out of your enemy or something. It is a neat gimmick, but when compared to VF4E’s flow and gameplay balance it just seems like garbage and a weak attempt at a new concept.

Even the attention to detail in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution is spectacular. Something somewhat lost with Virtua Fighter 5 was the great detail in the character’s appearances. For example, Brad looks just like you would expect a kickboxer to look like, with large calves and a slim but sturdy upper body and someone like Pai is very attractive, but clearly very serious about what she does with the perfect blend of muscle and a strong set of stances. In Virtua Fighter 5, Brad is kind of goofy and Pai is more of a standard “Cute girl” cliched fighting game character.

It Seems To Be… I’m The Winner!!

With my Goh save file I had progressed faster now than I ever had with any other character yet, even with how obvious it was that I just simply was not suited to his playstyle I was just clearly getting better. It was a great feeling. It had to be short lived though, as the time I had set aside to get better at the game was running out. I was going to finally try and beat Quest mode with Sarah.

Initially when I continued my journey with Sarah I did not do good. I was obviously improving and I was able to unlock all of the extra levels, but there was a massive amount of content I was certain I would never be able to see, regardless of how much better I became. When the last tournament in the game rolled in I had even tried to beat Arcade mode a few times on the Hard difficulty – Which I actually succeeded in! I even was able to come across all of the different kinds of Dural variations available too, which had some really impressive effects for the PlayStation 2!

I started up the final tournament only to be blown away by just the huge amount of characters I had to face. More than I ever had played right next to one another. Sometimes when you are in the heat of the game you are sent into almost a trance-like state, but with this I knew I would need some time in between many of the fights. I was not too sure if this would break my momentum, and worst of all, if it took hours for me to finish and I was not able to win I would have been extremely disappointed and frustrated.

Within the day I spent on it, I would go off and watch something or go outside for a small walk – Anything that could calm my nerves for what could have happened. It worked too, I did great and rarely lost any round at all!

Then came the final match with Kage – Truly the character I always had the most trouble up against, his crazy style would always throw me off guard. I lost the first and second out of three rounds in a row. My forehead was full of sweat and my stomach was empty of any kind of nourishment, making sounds I could only describe as being similar to Shun’s laugh. I bucked up and won the next two matches, the second of which was done with a perfect.

And then it happened. I lost on the final match.

Yes! I Dun Handcuff Lightning!

In any other moment of my life in a last second defeat on such a long journey as that, I would have likely turned into some sort of man-beast prowling the streets in search of blood, but I was actually fully satisfied. I never really wanted the game to end, and perhaps subconsciously I even set myself up for a defeat, but it did not matter anymore. I realized from there on that I had only even tried out 30 or 40 percent of what was actually available to me in the game, potentially I could be playing the game forever even. It was best that I moved on with my life though, only to set aside the game to try and beat again one day, maybe years from now again. Who knows, by the time Virtua Fighter 6 comes around, maybe I will have to re-learn everything all over again. The concept honestly could not excite me more.

On my attempt to mastering Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution I had found new love for not just the series, but videogames in general. I have learned to appreciate every single detail and thought gone into developing every game and just how much love is necessary to make one great. You can tell AM2 had a blast making this game and the series overall. They wanted all of their fans to enjoy it as much as possible, and every little touch gone into here shows it. A truly magnificent game, one of the best I have ever or will ever play. If you are a fan of the genre or even the medium I highly recommend you try this out.

As the years have passed, the availability may have dropped a bit, but so has the price – Making this easily one of the best videogame deals around. Pick it up, invite some friends over and have a great time, you will not regret it.

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