Updated, streamlined version of PS3 Virtua Fighter 5 (see entry 1224): stage lighting and effects have been changed--not for the better in my opinion, for instance they took out the rain and puddles in the downtown cage stage...so maybe this was for performance reasons...but anyway, aesthetically the stages aren't as lovely as they used to be--the camera is more zoomed-in, two fighters have been added: the so far for me forgettable tall emo Jean, and Taka Arashi, the sumo from VF3, who...kind of seems like a big airbag; Quest Mode is gone, and in fact there isn't anything to do in single player in FS (there is netplay this time around, though!), aside from Arcade mode and training, *unless* you buy the item/costume packs: with those you can waste a ton of time in the costume editor making weird looks for all the characters, and if you get all the packs, you get access to the beefiest actual single-player gameplay mode, Special Sparring, in which you can run through a bunch of different ~5-9 fight gauntlets of themed, customized AI opponents: there's one where they're made up to look like movie monsters, for instance.
Special Sparring, and spending way too much time in the costume editor, then, is this game's Quest Mode, and, it's pretty good; it's shorter bursts, but I can almost get into that next fight, next fight, next fight fugue state I seem to seek out, going through bunches of the enemy gauntlets. Yeah, the first couple fights are a little too easy, but fortunately after that the difficulty settles into a nice smooth groove, and you can get good battles in.
Even if you buy the complete edition or whatever it's called on the PSN store, you may find Special Sparring still greyed out when you run the game: in my case, this seems to have been because the PSN store only downloads 16 items: the game itself, and 15 character item packs--problem is, the game has 19 editable characters; for some reason, the two multi-character packs the "complete" edition pulls down, even though their descriptions list 19 characters by name, don't actually download the packs for Sarah, Jeffry, Shun, or Lau. So, I had to go download those from the store individually--then Special Sparring was available.
The fighting, aside from the closer-in camera showing more detail of the characters, feels quite similar to VF5 (vanilla)--which is good, because it's smooth and intuitive-feeling, but with a lot of depth if you want to dig in. I'm not quite sold on most of the newer characters yet--Goh, Eileen, Jean, and whatever the miniature luchador's name is--but the old ones all feel distinct in meaningful ways (I still hate Lion ;P), the game is fast-paced, but doesn't feel too fast to control, and has a unique feeling of moves and stances building and flowing naturally into other moves and stances. I dislike the side-step evade/dodge--that came along in VF3--and the silly ground-bounce combos--those came along in VF4--but, I have to admit they give the game a loose, free, rushing feeling that is almost necessary to counter-act its otherwise highly technical nature; it's a feeling that's missing in VF2 and Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary (on the NA VF4:Evo disc, under Options: Extras), and those games feel stifling by comparison.
I also dislike the colored flashbulb effect that bursts on the fighters when they strike each other--that came along in VF4, and was made always-on (in VF4 it was optional) in VF4:Evo--but I found that, unlike larger screen flashes (there are some of those during the load screens, I close my eyes : P), the hit FX flash is bearable to my photosensitivity if I wear sunglasses while playing. Which makes me cooler.
Also, in the costume creator, you can spend a lot of time just on sunglasses options, so that fits. And Sarah needs something to cover up her uncanny-valley eyes; I really wish they had modeled the character models, at least the faces, after the higher detail models they made for static images, which are completely different 3D art; most of the fighting model faces are all right, but Sarah's is bad--VF4 Sarah's face is way better--and Pai's isn't great.
A lot of the costume components aren't very good looking, and many don't go together that well; a lot are just really, really big and silly; also, some characters have notably worse costume options than others. Probably just as well, I spent way too much time in the costume editor as it is. ; P
The Special Sparring AI on Very Hard can in general be beaten by spamming a few simple moves, which does not work against the higher dan ranks in VF5 Quest mode (on Hard):
The FS AI is more aggressive, but that may be to its own detriment. Also, characters in general had their offensive power increased from 5 to FS, but the AI's defensive ability does not seem to have been ramped up to compensate.