It's about time the somebody makes another fighting game for the Xbox 360! Outside of Xbox Live Arcade games like Street Fighter II Turbo and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Dead or Alive 4 is the only Xbox 360 fighting game of note. While I can't argue against the busty babes that adorn every inch of Dead or Alive, Tecmo's fighter lacks the depth that I want from my one-on-one experience. Thanks to Sega, Xbox 360 owners will finally have a second option for their 3D fighting. That option is Virtua Fighter 5, one of the greatest fighting games of all time.
For what it's worth, this is not the first time Virtua Fighter 5 has been released on a home console. Earlier this year Sega released what was supposed to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive, however, for whatever reason, Sega decided to share the love and release the game on the Xbox 360 six months later. While the half-year wait has been excruciating for fans, the good news is that Sega has actually gone through the already solid game and made it better than ever. And even though this is the only version of the game on the Xbox 360, Sega even went ahead and added the word "Online" to the title just so nobody would confuse this for some other version of Virtua Fighter 5.
To be fair to Sega, the name tells you everything you need to know about this game. This is the fifth iteration of the Virtua Fighter series, the franchise that first introduced arcade gamers to the concept of a 3D fighting game. While it's nowhere near as popular in the U.S. as other fighting games, Virtua Fighter has a name for being one of the deepest and most balanced fighters on the planet. And like the title suggests, this version of Virtua Fighter 5 is "Online." Surprising almost everybody, Sega decided to make this Xbox 360 version the first Virtua Fighter game to offer online multiplayer support. It may not be the prettiest name around, but Virtua Fighter 5 Online gets the job done.
For many Xbox 360 owners this will be the first time ever experiencing a Virtua Fighter game, up until now this 3D fighter has only been on Sega and Sony consoles (unless you count the port of the 2D Virtua Fighter 2 on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console). Thankfully this Xbox 360 debut is a perfect port that in some ways is actually better than its PlayStation 3 and arcade releases.
Virtua Fighter 5 Online has a lot going for it. On one hand the game is easily the best looking fighting game on the Xbox 360, not that it takes much to unseat 2005's first-generation Dead or Alive 4. But most importantly this is one of the best playing fighting games of all time, it offers deceptively deep controls and more moves than you will ever know what to do with. It also features a huge line-up (18 in all) of interesting fighters that all look and play differently. What's more, the game features one of the most compelling single-player modes ever featured in a fighting game.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, at its core Virtua Fighter 5 Online is a standard 3D one-on-one fighting game. You control the game using only three buttons, one for punch, kick and block. Don't be fooled by the uncharacteristic amount of buttons, each character in Virtua Fighter 5 features dozens of powerful attacks and counters. Each battle takes place in a square ring; some of these levels allow you to hit your opponent over the side for an instant win. If you've played the first four Virtua Fighter games then you'll feel right at home with this fifth installment, and even new fans should get the hang of things without much effort.
What sets Virtua Fighter apart from all of the other 3D fighting games on the market is how different each of the characters feels when playing. This is not one of those games where if you're good at one fighter then you will be good with all of them. This is the kind of game where you spend months of your life perfecting your skills with one character. That's not to say that you can't dabble with a few other characters from time to time, but the fun in the game is learning everything there is to know about a singular character (and then taking him into the ring and showing no mercy to your opponent).
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