The graphics in the game...wow, where do I begin? For starters, I'd like to inform Team Ninja of one thing; what they said about DOA3 for PS2 (how it can't be made) is a horse load of crap. It really is. The graphics match and excel over DOA3's, specifically speaking, the character details. As was the clothing in DOA3, in VF4 you can see the strands of cotton, or string, or the meshing, which proves the clothing and the body they rest on, are different textures that are formed of their own unique polygons. Polygonal clipping with the hair, clothing, and overall collision detection is nearly flawless. The fighters themselves, are composed of 10,000 polygons each, which makes this the most detailed fighter on the market, as rough estimates indicated that DOA3's most detailed character featured only 8000-8500 polygons. The detail is impressive. You've got facial features such as wrinkles, which actually move according to the facial animation. Detailed eyes, lips, and noses are demonstrated here, you can even see his nostrils! Looking at this pic, you can even see the teeth!! There are fighters who even gradually sweat.
The detail doesn't end there. The stages, despite being squared and limited, are classic Virtua Fighter with a dash of Fighting Vipers. For starters, many of the stages are interactive, as their fencing, railing, or whatever outlining their to prevent an easy ring-out, can be broken. It doesn't take much, just shove your opponent into them, and watch them break off, as the enemy recoils and lands on the floor. You'll be able to use that opening to score a ring-out victory. In stages that don't have destructible backgrounds, you can use the surrounding to corner your opponent and juggle him off the fencing (or what have you) once or twice. Stages that have no outling, fencing, walls or railing generally feature an interactive platform. Take a look at this screenshot and notice how the snow, which once blanketed the whole stage, has been kicked up and removed according to where the two fighters moved along. This shows how wisely AM-2 used the PS2's RAM. This effect is also used in sand and water. Characters with long and swaying hair have exactly that. The hair isn't made up of pixels or some simple and lame polygons. Instead the hair is pretty complex and thoroughly detailed. Taking a look at these picture of Vanessa (click here) and (click here) you see how her hair splits, and notice the individual strands -- it looks even prettier in motion. Lion's hair is similar, and is every bit as detailed, as shown in this picture.
I'm sure there a few wondering, why some of the pics look so jaggy. Well, on your TV screen you will not (emphasis on the italicized words) see a single jaggy. It was just a minor problem I had with my video-card's settings, it wasn't reading the S-Video feed from my PS2 properly and some of the screens, in particular those involved with a lot of on screen motion, came out jaggy. I should also mention another little environmental detail. On the fighting platform in one of the stages, the ground gradually chips and breaks off as it takes impact from a fighter's fall. Not only is this a cool effect, but it is masterfully pulled off with a pretty visual effect that shows the chips of wood hailing toward the screen. Take a look at this screenshot and this screenshot notice the before and after effect and notice the individual separating of each tile! Perhaps the coolest of all background spectacles is in the ruins stage, shown here. Notice the sky and the background. This stage is filled with lighting cracks that hit the background of this arena. Specifically, the large monuments and buildings. Look at that screen again, and notice the large structure in the background, among other enormous structures (like a gigantic statue) a lighting bolt will completely explode that building. The special effect is completely awe-inspiring. It'll really make you shout "whoah!" The sight of one huge structure, turn into a pile of rubble is fantastic. The statue in that very same stage, when it is hit by lighting, it cracks near its surface, tips over and destroys a chunk of a large wall. Notice the structure to the very left, that's the statue. Now if you would look at the next few screens, you'll notice the destruction of the bridge and the ruble it leaves behind.
Beautiful sight, isn't it? In all actuality, if you fight in the stage long enough, you will eventually see every structure crumble, thanks to the wonderful powers of lightning.
The frame is absolutely perfect, it slides at a streaming 60 frames per second, and the game boasts dynamic lighting effects as well! That about covers everything as far as visuals go. Let it be said once more, this is HANDS-DOWN the best looking fighting game out there. Not even Dead or Alive 3 can match the caliber of Virtua Fighter 4. This is some unbelievable stuff, I never thought I'd see a fighting game better looking than DOA3. Yu Suzuki and his AM2 staff have proved me wrong.
I should make note of the emphasis of the gameplay's depth! The game has retained its Virtua Fighter 2 roots, by featuring the three button set-up, over the slightly more complex 6 button set up in Virtua Fighter 3: Team Battle. While this preview has been focused largely on the game's visuals (the gameplay will be fully detailed in the import review), let it be said that Virtua Fighter 4 is what the fighting genre needs. It is without question, the greatest fighting game of all time. I don't think I've ever played a game for 8 hours straight, let a lone a fighting game. Addicted? Yup. Greatest fighting game ever? Yup. Best damn Sega game ever?? F**K YEAH!
2/2/2002 Arnold Katayev